Research on learning disabilities strongly supports early intervention in children who are struggling at school. Children with learning disabilities who receive the appropriate attention and support to develop their weaknesses are just as likely to be successful learners as their non-disabled peers, provided their weaknesses are discovered early. Parents of students who need more attention might consider special education schools. Knowing the options in your area can help you select the right program.
The first place to start your research could be an independent evaluation. A team of psychologists and social workers can evaluate your child to determine his suitability. These learning experts may also recommend additional testing if they suspect the student is on the autism spectrum or language-based learning disabilities. Further evaluation may help pinpoint your child’s weakness or give some indication of the type of remedy that might be helpful.
Once you have an idea of your child’s needs, start looking at options in your area. Making a list of priorities for your family can help narrow down your choices. Your list should include practical matters, such as location, transportation, availability of after-hours assistance, and financial requirements are some examples.
Additionally, academic programs and resources should take your decision into account. Consider whether your student will benefit from tutoring, assistive technology, and smaller class sizes. Research the school’s policy on extended hours or other accommodations to see if classes can be flexibly scheduled. Many people with learning disabilities have average or above average intelligence. Opportunities to participate in International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses or a talent program may be an important consideration. Others however learn best in a non-competitive environment where lessons are project or theme based.
Finally, take into consideration the campus facilities and culture. Participation in extracurricular programs and sports can teach teamwork and sportsmanship to students who struggle with social interactions. Conflict resolution programs or a firm disciplinary policy may benefit some students.
Parents should also visit special education schools before making a decision. During your visit, sit in a class to ensure students receive enough one-on-one attention. If the special education school uses a particular curriculum that you are unfamiliar with, inquire about the program’s philosophy and methods. Ask questions about how study periods or homework sessions are structured. Teachers and administrators should have a system in place to provide regular updates on your child’s progress, so make sure you are happy with the level of communication you can expect. Finally, before finishing the visit, ask for the telephone numbers of parents with children enrolled in the school. Talking to the parents of students currently attending the school is a great way to learn more about the program.
Parents are the best advocates for children with learning disabilities. Exploring the educational options available and selecting the most effective special education curriculum can help ensure your academic success.