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How to Choose a Top School for a Child with Special Needs

See also: Choosing a School

When it comes to parenting skills for children with special needs, there are plenty of vital things to learn over the years. One topic that many parents tend to worry about a lot though is how to select the right school for their children.

After all, kids spend a huge number of hours during their formative years within educational facilities, so it’s incredibly important that their experiences there are as enjoyable and informative as possible. And finding the right school can be even more difficult if your child has additional needs or concerns.

If you’re looking for some tips to follow to help you find the right school for your young one with special needs, read on.

Decide on Priorities

Choosing a school for children with special needs

One of the first steps you should take when needing to select a school for your child is to work out exactly what your priorities are when it comes to their education. After all, every family’s priorities will differ and not every school will be able to provide exactly what you’re after.

It’s important then to understand what your child’s strengths and needs are, physically, emotionally and mentally, and to look for a school which can effectively match these. You should also keep in mind that you want to find a school that will continue to be suitable over the years as your child’s strengths and needs change. That way you won’t have to move your child to a different school if something changes, which can be traumatic for a child who has adjusted to a specific school setting.

When considering potential schools, you also need to think about things such as your family’s values, beliefs, budget, available time, and more.

For example, you need to be sure that:

  • The school fees will be affordable for you over the long term
  • The school is located in a convenient area that doesn’t take you or your child too long to reach
  • Its educational and teaching philosophies align with your own (e.g. you may wish for pastoral care to be a large part of the curriculum)

You may also have a preference when it comes to the size of the school that your child attends, or the breadth of topics studied. If your child has specialized interests, it would be worth making sure that the school has an excellent program for that area.

Compare Mainstream Schools with Specialized Ones

When it comes to educational institutions, there are a number of different options to choose from. As a result, you will have to decide if you want to send your child to a mainstream school with relevant facilities, or a specialized school tailored to their specific needs.


Some mainstream schools, for example, have support services for children with special needs. This may include particular facilities on the campus, or special-education teachers on the staff who can provide specially modified programs.

At mainstream schools like this, one benefit is that your child will interact regularly with children who do not have a disability, in addition to possibly also getting to spend time with other special-needs children who are in attendance. This can be the best of both worlds.

Special-Education Schools

There are also self-contained special-education schools where all of the students who attend have special-needs. These schools are set up specifically for children with disabilities, so they will have all the necessary equipment and facilities, and teachers with experience. One downside, though, to these facilities is that they don’t give special-needs children much opportunity to interact with typically-developing peers. But if your child has particular needs, it might be better for him or her to be around others in similar situations.

Teaching Staff - School for children with emotional difficulties.

Schools for Those with Emotional Difficulties

Note too that there are many different types of special-education schools around the country. Some are designed for children with physical disabilities (such as schools for the deaf or the blind), while others, such as Diamond Ranch High School, cater to children’s mental and emotional needs.

These types of alternative venues can help support students with issues such as bi-polar disorder, ADHD, PTSD, mood disorders, and more.

While these aren’t physical disabilities, disorders like these can greatly affect school-work, and teachers that understand how to help can make a real difference in your child’s educational success.

Visit and Evaluate the School

When evaluating school options, it pays to look at the level of diversity and the type of community to be found within each venue. Apart from seeing whether any other children with special needs attend each school, you should also investigate the approach of the principal, teachers, and other staff at the institutions. That way if you have any questions you can address them before your child enrolls.

Look for a school where you feel that your child will not only be safe, and have his or her educational needs met, but that their social and developmental requirements are also met. A positive approach is one that focuses on a student’s abilities, rather than on their disability. It should also support learning at an individual pace and level, use creative methods of adapting the curriculum, environment, and offer activities that ensure all children are included.

To really get a good feel for which type of school is best for your child, as well as which specific venue is the top choice, you should pay a visit to each before making a decision. While onsite, make sure you meet the principal and other leaders at the school, as well as some of the teachers on the faculty. It also helps to try and meet some of the current students if you can to see if they are well presented, polite, and approachable.

While visiting schools, compare things such as classroom resources and other facilities, the teaching methods, and how discipline is handled. While you will get an overview of a venue on an open day or at another public event, keep in mind that you will generally receive the most accurate impression of a school if you’re there on a normal day.

About the Author

Tiffany Rowe is a marketing administrator who assists in contributing resourceful content throughout the World Wide Web. Tiffany prides herself in her strong ability to provide high quality content that readers will find valuable. She enjoys connecting with other bloggers and collaborating for exclusive content in various niches.