Regular vs. private: Choosing the right school for children with special needs

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Parents of special needs children are often faced with the question of whether to enroll their child in a specialized or regular institution. While each offers a unique benefits, special needs educational advisors generally recommend the following considerations to inform choice:

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The type and severity of the condition: There are many forms of disabilities and each has to be addressed differently. Some students might need highly specialized instruction such as sign language interpretation or occupational therapy. Others might do well with minor tutoring at home. Determining the form of instruction is highly dependent on what the child has, how he or she can manage with basic instruction, and the level of social communication with which the child can keep up. The last factor, perhaps, is the most controversial. Regular schooling might not be ideal for children with anxiety or social disorders, as this increases the probability of bullying, miscommunication, or even poor instruction.

Home factors: In general, private and specialized institutions are suggested for students with special needs. However, these facilities are typically more expensive than public schools. Research has shown that most families with special needs children come from the low-income families, who find the cost of education more challenging and often enroll their children in a public school.

Educational institutions must recognize that special needs child have individual needs and may or may not respond well to traditional educational practices. Parents are also encouraged to determine appropriateness of schooling individually and on a per case basis.

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For many years, David Ostrer, an education consultant, has helped parents choose the correct school for their special needs children. Find out more about education by following this Twitter account.