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Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School

For more than 40 years, Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School has helped kids build skills and develop tools to be successful throughout their lives

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Private Schools with Learning Disability Support

When considering a school for your child, be sure to check out all your options closely.

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Private schools and preschools for children with learning disabilities offer learning difference support and related programs to help children master a school setting.

Children diagnosed with ADHD, dyslexia, autism, Asperger's Syndrome and other forms of learning disabilities (LD) require - and benefit from - skilled and specialized instruction. In some cases, entire school programs may be prepared to deal with issues concerning learning disabilities, such as the Arrowsmith School, in Toronto, Ontario.

Has your child been diagnosed with a learning disorder? Are you frustrated with the way your child's current school is ill-equipped to deal with the disability? Consider one of the many schools listed below.

Considering a school for learning disabilities

When considering a school for your child, be sure to check out all your options closely. Go to the school and observe classroom instruction in action. Don't be afraid to travel far afield and look into different options and programs. As we already noted, the instruction offered by The Arrowsmith School is highly regarded.

At one time, though, it was merely "experimental" and was ignored by mainstream education institutions. Programs at numerous other private school such as those listed here all offer unique specialization in dealing with learning disabled children.

Boarding school in the United States offers a unique opportunity for children to develop socially and intellectually. A number of the best US boarding schools specialize in helping ADHD and learning disabled children including schools in Massachusetts, Ohio, Mississippi and Florida. Our look at finding the best boarding schools for learning disabled children offers a list you can sort, based on any criteria you choose. 

For children who don't fit the mainstream system

For many students, private school is a place where they will thrive instead of falling through the cracks. Independent schools for children with special needs are especially adept at creating customized learning experiences that address the individual needs and maximize the abilities of each child.

"Most special needs schools have a niche in providing services for kids who don't fit into the mainstream system," says Barbara Brown, co-chair of Partners in Specialized Education (Spectra), which represents six independent schools in Ontario. "Many students have unique problems and difficulties, and need a different type of program that's better suited to their requirements."

At special needs schools, instruction is geared toward addressing and making the most of students' specific learning challenges. Such schools address almost any type of special needs, including learning, cognitive and developmental disabilities, communication or language disorders, attention disorders, behavioural problems, and advanced learning abilities.

Underpinning almost every aspect of a student's experience at a special needs school is individualization with the curriculum, extracurricular activities and life preparation training, all catered to their unique abilities and potential.

Teachers able to work with students more closely

Special needs schools also have small classrooms, which provide more hands-on teaching in a focused environment. Often students enter private school from the public system or other conventional private schools, where they were lost in a large class and fell through the cracks, says Peter Coll, headmaster of Landmark East School in Nova Scotia, which caters to students with dyslexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and nonverbal learning disorder (NLD).

"When you put them in a room with a teacher and three other students, they get the personal attention they need. Teachers are able to intimately understand their strengths and weaknesses and work closely with them using approaches that suit their learning style," he says.

Special needs schools are equipped with the knowledge, expert staff and teaching technologies to provide a wide range of specialty interventions that may include speech and language therapy, psychology, behavioural therapy, music therapy, and social skills training.

Depending on the school, students can access intensive remedial assistance with reading, writing, mathematics, comprehension, logical reasoning, visual and auditory memory, non-verbal learning, attention span and processing speed. Schools will also typically focus on preparing students for life after graduation by promoting the development of life skills, emotional growth, independence and community awareness.

"The biggest question I hear from families is, 'What's going to happen next? Will my child be able to work, live on their own and have a quality of life?'" says Brown, who is also principal of Kohai Educational Centre, a school for students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), genetic disorders, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder (ADD), ADHD, behavioural problems and language disorders.

Experts say the best schools start early in teaching students to become independent and to take care of themselves, and some have vocational programs that help them identify possible employment paths and make connections with local employers.

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