The “Three R’s” are a well-worn cliché of education, and often the traditional neighborhood school will meet your child’s needs. But if you think your special needs child needs more help than their district school is providing, or the district is not implementing the child’s IEP, or the school is unable to manage your child’s behaviors, perhaps it’s time to think about a non-public school (NPS).
Federal law entitles all children to a “free, appropriate public education” (“FAPE”) and NPS’s exist to serve students whose educational needs are not met in their home schools. NPS’s contract with individual districts and work as part of the student’s educational team to implement educational plans, set academic goals, design and implement behavioral plans, provide behavior support, occupational therapy, speech and language, adapted physical education, psychological counseling, and many other services.
Not all NPS’s are the same. Many serve a wide range of disabilities and needs. Others specialize in one area. You should research, tour the school and meet with school administrators to determine if the needs of your child can be met.
Most NPS’s offer smaller classes, higher student to teacher ratios, immediate on-site assistance and support in the areas of behavior, and communication and vocational transition training. Depending on the disorders and disabilities served, an NPS may be trained in and use a variety of modalities such as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Floortime, Augmentative Alternative Communication (AAC) programs and devices, specialized computer programs and specialized academic materials for non-typical learners. NPS’s that specialize in particular disabilities are more likely to have staff who specialize in specific disabilities, thereby having more ability to integrate clinical skills with educational strategies.
Strong NPSs have the ability, because of size and specialization, to attend to the individual needs of special needs children. This in turn, sets the student up for success and the increased possibility of reaching their potential.