Conducting the Special Education School Search
Important Things Parents Should Look For
Individualized therapies are essential to a student-centered learning experience for a child with special needs. An integrated suite of services can provide an incredible amount of comfort and create a more meaningful school day.
Depending on your child’s unique needs, inquire whether a school offers:
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA): For children with autism, integrated ABA therapy can be the key to independence. The right school will have ABA experts, including Board Certified Behavior Analysts, on-site in each program.
- Physical, Occupational and Speech Therapies: Community-based instruction with physical, occupational and speech therapists prepares students for real-life situations and encourages functional daily living skills.
- Music and art therapies: Integrated music and art therapy programs enable children with communication barriers to ease fears and anxieties and express their needs in a successful new way.
- Sound, sign language and other sensory programs: Children with autism often benefit from the sensation of soothing sound and sensory therapies, and may find a new way to communicate through sign language.
- Nursing Services: In addition to a fulltime nurse, check to see if your child’s teacher and paraprofessionals are trained in in CPR and first aid and are proficient in the use of an AED, an electronic device that can treat cardiac arrhythmias. Make sure staff are also experienced using Epi pens and knowledgeable about specialized diets, should your child have an allergy or sensitivity.
- Augmentative and Alternative Communication Device (AAC) Program: An educational program should provide appropriate supports to help overcome communication barriers. For children who struggle with expressive and receptive language, an on-site augmentative communication device can open a world of possibilities and enable him or her become fully engaged with the learning environment. Augmentative devices can include electronics such as iPads and tablets or more traditional items such as Picture Exchange Systems.
- Comprehensive Transition Programs: To prepare your child for the most independent adult life possible, ensure his or her school offers a diverse and individualized transition program. Depending on your child’s needs, he or she may benefit from job and vocational training and placement or even transfer to a community college. Inquire about transition services and make sure the school you choose offers a comprehensive transition program and support for families to learn and understand the complexities of navigating Adult Services in your home state.
At The Bancroft School in Haddonfield, N.J., students ages 7 through 21 have access to these and a host of additional resources at their fingertips. For more information about autism and other intellectual or developmental disabilities and to inquire about enrollment at The Bancroft School and other programs, call 1-800-774-5516.