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In Depth: Special needs schools and how dedicated programs help students

Many private schools across the country offer highly tailored learning environments, each catering to different needs.

Every child learns differently. Some thrive in relaxed, laissez-faire environments, while others require structure and rules. Some work well in large groups; others need more one-on-one attention. Some students excel in all-girl or all-boy schools and others benefit from coed classes. Read more


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List of special needs schools

 
FILTERS:
Type
Grades
Condition
 
  • Wellandport, Ontario
  • 5 to 12 Boys
  • $53,965 to $57,965

Robert Land Academy is a private military-themed boarding school (Gr 5-12) helping boys to achieve their potential and gain admission to post-secondary programs. Toronto, Halton-Peel Expo Exhibitor

  • Boarding
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Robert Land Academy 53965 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Boys ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety
  • Toronto, Ontario
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $24,225

Brighton is the leading private school in Toronto for students with academic and/or social challenges. We offer curriculum-based and remedial Elementary programs; and credit, pre-credit and non-credit Secondary streams.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
Brighton School 24225 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Down syndrome Autism Asperger's Syndrome Down syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Down syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Autism Williams syndrome Williams syndrome Williams syndrome
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Erin Mills Parkway/Argentia Rd
  • JK to 12 Coed
  • $19,590 to $66,850

Oakwood Academy is a special education private school in Mississauga. It offers programs from pre-school to grade 12. Oakwood also offers a unique 6 week summer camp focusing on social skills and emotional development.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Oakwood Academy 19590 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Down syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Cerebral palsy Cerebral palsy Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety
  • Toronto, Ontario
    York Mills Road/Bayview Avenue
  • JK to 8 Coed
  • $21,500 to $40,000

Junior Academy offers programs for students from Pre-Kindergarten to Grade Eight, in midtown Toronto. The average class size is 10 to 14 students and it caters to all types of students with different learning profiles. Toronto Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Junior Academy 21500 Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety
  • Toronto, Ontario
    York Mills/Leslie
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $18,500 to $24,000

We are a new style of independent school for diverse learners where all students learn with dignity; where a warm and nurturing school serves as a foundation for remarkable lives; and where the whole person who matters. Toronto Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
WillowWood School 18500 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability
  • Belleville, Ontario
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $24,500 to $75,900

We are a licensed therapeutic boarding school for Gr. 1-12 students requiring individualized academic, clinical, and behaviour-management solutions in small class sizes and professional home environments.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Applewood Academy for Progressive Learning 24500 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Down syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Suicidal thoughts Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Williams syndrome Williams syndrome Williams syndrome Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
  • Red Deer Area, Alberta
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • $1 /program

Venture Academy is a therapeutic treatment and education program for students who may be struggling with ADHD, learning challenges, underachieving, behavioural issues, and a variety of clinical diagnoses.

  • Homestay
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Venture Academy Troubled Teens Program (AB) 1 MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • K to 12 Coed
  • $25,150 to $26,200

KGMS/Maplewood provides supportive individual and small group instruction for students with learning differences.

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Kenneth Gordon Maplewood School 25150 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Langley, British Columbia
  • 8 to 12 Coed
  • $2,700 to $4,500

Focus Foundation is a world-class educational and therapeutic learning institution, described by Dr. Charles Huffine, former President of the American Association of Community Psychiatrists.

  • Homestay/Day
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Whytecliff Agile Learning Centres 2700 HighSchools Homestay Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Asperger's Syndrome Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical anxiety Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Drug and alcohol abuse Suicidal thoughts Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Intellectual disability Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Williams syndrome
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • K to 12 Coed
  • $12,610 to $18,885

Our school has two programs: Academy, for students with learning difficulties who have yet to consistently perform at grade level, and Collegiate, for students at or above grade level and looking for new challenges. Calgary Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
Calgary Academy & Calgary Collegiate 12610 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Riverside Dr./Bank St
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $14,800 to $16,300

Astolot Educational Centre is a day school with grades 1 to 12 in Ottawa, Ontario. Classroom teacher-student ratios are 1 to 10. Students have the ability to reach their full potential with Astolot programming.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Astolot Educational Centre 14800 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Clinical Depression Clinical anxiety Suicidal thoughts Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Deafness Asperger's Syndrome Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability)
  • Kanata, Ontario
  • 1 to 6 Coed
  • $16,000

March Academy offers an alternative program for students in grades 1 through 6. Small classes with academic programming includes weekly lessons in the arts, the natural environment and daily physical education.

  • Day
  • Liberal Arts
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
March Academy 16000 Elementary Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability
  • North York, Ontario
    Avenue Road/Lawrence Avenue
  • 9 to 12 Coed
  • $15,175 to $19,175

AVRO Academy is an alternative high school in Toronto for grades 9 to 12. Students earn credits while developing skills that best prepares them for post secondary education. We focus on student strength!

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
AVRO Academy 15175 HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Breadalbane St/St Luke Ln
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • $25,000

The YMCA Academy is an alternative high school serving youth with learning disabilities and learning style differences. Toronto Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
The YMCA Academy 25000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Blindness Deafness Cystic Fibrosis Multiple physical Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Autism Asperger's Syndrome Down syndrome Intellectual disability Suicidal thoughts
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge St/Sheppard Ave
  • 8 to 12 Coed
  • $399 to $499 /course

Ontario Virtual School is an Ontario Government approved credit-granting institution offering high school level courses for Grades 9-12 in an interactive online format. Students can start anytime with 24/7 access.

  • eSchool/Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Ontario Virtual School 399 HighSchools eSchool Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Autism Asperger's Syndrome Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical anxiety Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Multiple sclerosis Cerebral palsy Muscular dystrophy Spina Bifida Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Cystic Fibrosis Multiple physical
  • Barrie Area, Ontario
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • $1 /program

Venture Academy is a therapeutic treatment and education program for students who may be struggling with ADHD, learning challenges, underachieving, behavioural issues, and a variety of clinical diagnoses.

  • Homestay
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Venture Academy Troubled Teens Program (ON) 1 MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety
  • North York, Ontario
    Dufferin/Lawrence
  • PS to 8 Coed
  • $19,000 to $25,000

Magnificent Minds Inc. caters to learners whose needs are not being met in traditional school environments, pursuing academic excellence, and individual greatness.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Magnificent Minds 19000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Cystic Fibrosis Cystic Fibrosis Multiple physical Multiple physical Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)
  • South Wales, New York(USA)
  • 6 to 12 Coed
  • US $48,000 to US $68,000

The Gow School is a special needs private school that offers programs for grades seven through 12 in South Wales, New York. Toronto Expo Exhibitor

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
The Gow School 48000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder
  • Calgary, Alberta
  • 3 to 12 Coed
  • $15,600

Foothills Academy is an independent school for students with diagnosed Learning Disabilities in grades 3 - 12. Small class sizes allow the experienced staff to create a positive learning environment. Calgary Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Physical
Foothills Academy 15600 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Language Processing Disorder Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Asperger's Syndrome
  • Montreal, Quebec
    Prud'homme/Boulevard Décarie
  • 7 to 11 Coed
  • $19,750

Centennial is the only high school in Quebec that helps students master their learning challenges and graduate on time. Over 90% of our students graduate in five years and go on to college and university. Montreal Expo Exhibitor

  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Centennial Academy 19750 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Asperger's Syndrome Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Clinical Depression Clinical anxiety Suicidal thoughts Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
  • Métabetchouan-Lac-à-la-Croix, Quebec
    Rte 170/Rte 169
  • 7 to 11 Coed
  • $2,980 to $28,570

SMRC is a coed day and boarding high school in French Canada with a warm & relaxed natural campus, modern rooms, enrichment & support, technology enhanced classrooms & labs, 8 cultural & sports programs, 20+ activities

  • Homestay/Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Physical
Séminaire Marie-Reine-du-Clergé 2980 MiddleSchools HighSchools Homestay Day Boarding Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Asperger's Syndrome Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Carling Avenue/Broadview Avenue
  • 1 to 8 Coed
  • $17,550

Edelweiss Private Academy offers elementary education to students with ASD and other exceptionalities, maintaining small teacher to student ratio. We promote strong academic, physical and social-emotional development.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Edelweiss Private Academy 17550 Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit
  • St. Catharines, Ontario
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • $9,500 to $14,100

Brock Academy is offers programs for Grades 7-12 in St. Catharines, with small class sizes, individualized learning and a focus on STEM as well as IEP students. We offer both onsite/online credits towards OSSD.

  • Day/Homestay/eSchool
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
Brock Academy 9500 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Homestay eSchool Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Asperger's Syndrome Autism Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)
  • Rindge, New Hampshire(USA)
    Deer Run Ln/Hampshire Rd
  • 3 to 12 Boys
  • US $61,500

A friendly, active boarding school for bright boys who have good intentions but who may be too impulsive, intense, or bothersome for other schools and whose intellectual interests may separate them from their peers.

  • Boarding
  • Liberal Arts
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
Hampshire Country School 61500 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Boys ADHD (moderate to severe) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Asperger's Syndrome Autism
  • Mississauga, Ontario
    Hurontario/Queensway
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $19,725 to $22,600

Team School offers programs from grades 1 to 12 in Mississauga. Its average class size is 8 to 12 students. Toronto, Halton-Peel Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
TEAM School 19725 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
  • Ottawa, Ontario
    Donald St/Frances St
  • NS to 8 Coed
  • $9,000 to $10,300

Providence Academy is the only Private French Catholic School offering a trilingual program of study in Ontario with classes from nursery to grade eight. Tuition: $8,800-10,300. Extracurricular activities: $600-$650. Ottawa Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Progressive
  • Reggio Emilia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Academie Providence 9000 Preschool Kindergarten Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Drug and alcohol abuse Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Blindness Deafness Cystic Fibrosis Multiple physical Down syndrome ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe)
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Don Mills/Eglinton
  • Adult Coed
  • $18,500 to $27,500

Brighton Launch reimagines post-secondary education for young adults with intellectual challenges. Using a tailored skills curriculum, supported work placements and more, we prepare students for lives of success.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
Brighton Launch 18500 Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia
  • Bracebridge, Ontario
  • 7 to 12 Coed
  • $18,000 to $36,950

We uphold and pursue a pragmatic, balanced education with an emphasis on art, sports and music to cultivate talents to lead the new century.

  • Boarding
  • Traditional
  • Waldorf
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
Dewey Institute 18000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Boarding Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) Intellectual disability Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) ADHD (moderate to severe) Asperger's Syndrome
  • Etobicoke, Ontario
  • JK to 6 Coed
  • $3,600 to $18,900

Oak Learners offers a creative learning atmosphere, working with your child’s unique learning style to inspire their strengths and interests.

  • Day
  • Reggio Emilia
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Oak Learners 3600 Kindergarten Elementary Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD)
  • Middleboro, Massachusetts(USA)
  • 6 to 12 Coed
  • US $60,000 to US $160,000

Co-ed therapeutic boarding school in Massachusetts for students 11-22 years. Student support is offered for learning disabilities, OCD, anxiety, ADHD, NLD, ASD, attachment disorder, bipolar disorder and depression.

  • Day/Boarding
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Chamberlain International School 60000 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Boarding Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Spadina/Eglinton
  • 5 to 12 Coed
  • $27,500 to $32,000

Shoore Centre for Learning is a special-needs private school that offers programs from grades seven to 12 in Toronto. Its average class size is six students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Shoore Academics 27500 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Troubled behaviour / troubled teens Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Suicidal thoughts Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)
  • Ottawa, Ontario
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $14,900 to $17,700

Heritage Academy is an Ottawa private school that is designed for students with DYSLEXIA, ADD/ADHD and similar learning exceptionalities.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Heritage Academy of Learning Excellence 14900 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety
  • Toronto, Ontario
    Yonge St./Lawrence Ave.
  • 1 to 8 Coed
  • $21,800

The Dunblaine School empowers students with learning disabilities to reach their full potential. It offers programs for students from grade one to eight, with an average class size of 5-7 students. Toronto Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
The Dunblaine School 21800 Elementary MiddleSchools Day Coed Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome
  • Oakville, Ontario
    Ford Drive/Royal Windsor Drive
  • 2 to 8 Coed
  • $27,000 to $30,000

Wildwood Academy is a special needs private school in Oakville. It offers programs from grades 2 to 8, with an average class size of four to ten students.

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
  • Physical
Wildwood Academy 27000 MiddleSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Autism Autism Autism Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Down syndrome Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Clinical anxiety Williams syndrome Williams syndrome Williams syndrome
  • Toronto, Ontario
    St. Clair Ave West/Avenue Road
  • 1 to 12 Coed
  • $2,200 to $26,500

Founded on the science of neuroplasticity, Arrowsmith Program provides students with the skills necessary to overcome their learning disabilities and transform their academic, cognitive, emotional and social lives. Toronto, Halton-Peel Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
Arrowsmith School 2200 Elementary MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyscalculia Language Processing Disorder Dysgraphia Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Language Processing Disorder Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Language Processing Disorder Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Autism Asperger's Syndrome
  • Oakville, Ontario
  • 6 to 12 Coed
  • $22,645 to $23,790

Chisholm Academy, a school in Oakville for students with learning difficulties, offers an average class size of 10 students with a starting tuition cost of $17,750. Halton-Peel Expo Exhibitor

  • Day
  • Traditional
  • Learning disabilities
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral and Emotional
Chisholm Academy 22645 MiddleSchools HighSchools Day Coed ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) ADHD (moderate to severe) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyscalculia Dysgraphia Language Processing Disorder Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Asperger's Syndrome Intellectual disability Clinical Depression Clinical Depression Intellectual disability Intellectual disability Asperger's Syndrome Asperger's Syndrome Clinical Depression Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD) Language Processing Disorder Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Dyslexia (Language-Based Learning Disability) Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) Dysgraphia Dyscalculia Language Processing Disorder Visual Perceptual/Visual Motor Deficit Nonverbal Learning Disorders (NLD)

At the end of the day, it is up to parents to find the right fit for their child.

Canadian families often have a hard time addressing the special learning requirements of their child and, in the past, were forced to navigate their way through the public school system with little guidance. Many private schools across the country offer highly tailored learning environments, each catering to different needs. Whether a child has dyslexia or attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD), physical disabilities, cognitive or memory disorders, emotional and behavioural challenges, or just needs an extra push, there is a school for your child.

Here, we give you a closer look at a cross-section of schools geared to students with unique learning challenges. This can be used as a launching pad to help you find the right school for your child. For more in-depth coverage, read our comprehensive guide to special needs schools.

Strengthening mental weaknesses

When Andrea Peirson graduated from teacher's college six years ago, she wanted to make an impact. With The Arrowsmith School, a midtown Toronto elementary and secondary day school for students with learning disabilities, she knew she'd found her niche.

"I was amazed at what I saw and found it inspiring," recalls Peirson, who went on to teach at the school and is now also director of admissions and in charge of teacher training.

The coed school focuses on strengthening mental weaknesses. Most of the students possess average or above-average intelligence, but have trouble in areas such as reading, writing, mathematics, remembering and understanding; some have dyslexia or ADD.

Each student is tested to determine the nature of the disability, then prescribed "physiotherapy for the brain," as Peirson refers to it: a series of written, visual, auditory and computer exercises to strengthen learning capacities. The goal is to maximize a child's learning abilities within three to four years, and reintegrate them back into a regular school at the appropriate grade level.

"When students first come here, they feel depressed, anxious and have low self-esteem," Peirson says. "When they leave, they can read, write and think, and feel powerful in the world."

A commitment to work with each student's learning style

Throughout its 30 years, the Chisholm Academy High School in Oakville, Ontario, has been a haven for thousands of students with learning disabilities and attention issues. They come for the structured environment, individualized programs and small classes of no more than 12 students.

Dr. Howard Bernstein, founder and director, has seen the results first-hand.

"There was one child who was classically dyslexic when he came here, and he now has a master's degree in education and teaches at a local Halton school," Bernstein says. "He still has problems with reading, but he has learned to compensate really well."

Chisholm Academy is intensely committed to comprehensive testing of all students. Bernstein and his team of professionals conduct psycho-educational, ADD, intellectual and vocational assessments, and educational evaluations to ensure students enter a well-suited program.

"Our main objective," Bernstein says, "is to provide academic programming for kids who need something special to ensure they're given every opportunity to be successful."

Emphasizing social development

Twelve years ago, Charlene Pryke was at a crossroads: she didn't feel she was making a difference or the most of her teaching skills in the public school system.

Then she joined the team at Dunblaine School, a Toronto special-needs school for kids in kindergarten to Grade 8.

She started as an assistant and by 1995 had begun working as a teacher in Grades 1 and 2. She says it has been extremely rewarding to work with a group of committed special-education professionals in an environment with individualized education plans and an emphasis on social development and building self-confidence.

"You see directly the students' many accomplishments . . . you're actually a part of that," Pryke says.

Dunblaine offers a skills-based academic program that follows Ontario education guidelines.

In 2002, Pryke took the helm as principal of the school. She takes pride in the number of students who not only overcome their obstacles, but also go on to regular high school and even post-secondary school.

"Many feel that they can manage, and have the tools and the strategies in place to work just as successfully with the rest of society."

An environment of intimate, intensive, individualized instruction pays off

It's said the mark of a good organization is a happy staff, which is exactly the case at the Exceptional Learning Centre in Ajax, Ontario.

"As teachers, we often feel tired or worn out, but here we constantly feel inspired by the growth and development of the kids," says Lorraine Lewis, principal of the speech, language and learning elementary school.

What began in 1996 as a speech and language centre combined with modified tutoring evolved two years ago into a full-fledged special-needs school that caters to students with learning disabilities (both verbal and non-verbal), attention-based difficulties and Asperger Syndrome.

In addition to instruction in the traditional subjects, students also learn social, language and learning skills.

A staff of four educators, two speech and language professionals and a behaviour therapist contribute to the environment of intimate, intensive, individualized instruction.

"The kids work so hard, and it's extremely rewarding to watch them develop and become competent students," Lewis says.

A U.S. boarding school for dyslexic boys

From student to teacher to associate director of admission, Doug Cotter's experience at The Gow School, a boarding special needs school in South Wales, New York, has come full circle.

His journey at the middle and secondary boarding school for dyslexic boys began in 1982, when he and his older brother were enrolled there as a last resort. Until then, Cotter confesses, the brothers had spent many years in public and Catholic schools learning more about how to outwit the system than about the three Rs.

At The Gow School, the boys found the kind of structure they needed. The oldest college preparatory school in the United States, The Gow School provides students with small classes, a multi-sensory teaching format and a technology-rich environment. Students are educated in all subjects, including areas such as fine arts and physical education, and receive remediation for their learning disabilities through reconstructive language, a specialized phonics-based program. "Without question, this was one of the greatest experiences I've ever had, and certainly had the greatest impact on my life, which is the reason I stayed here for 11 years," Cotter says. "Hopefully I can use my experience to motivate others."

Seeing a child with amazing potential instead of deficiencies

Depending on the nature and severity of your child's learning disability, an inclusive school may be an option. An inclusive school is a regular school that has made a commitment to gearing part of its resources and curriculum to students with special needs.

The degree to which special-needs students are integrated depends on the school's philosophy. For example, at Montcrest School in Toronto, about 30 spots out of 300 are reserved for the Learning Disability Program, wherein students receive intensive instruction in general subjects and support in developing self-esteem, but participate along with regular students in physical education, drama and music classes.

There are many things to take into account to determine a good fit at an inclusive school. "What should be happening is a matching process between the expertise and focus of the school and your child's requirements," says Sue Maxwell, admission director at Montcrest School.

Maxwell advises researching several different inclusive schools and being completely up-front with admission directors about your child's special needs. Parents should also ask the following questions:

A regular school with an inclusive learning disability program

In her 16 years as a teacher and now also admission director, Sue Maxwell has seen thousands of students pass through the doors of Montcrest School, a Toronto-based coed primary school. One student who stood out for Maxwell was enrolled in the school's integrated learning disability program.

This particular student came to Montcrest School with a language-based disability, but by the time her Grade 8 graduation rolled around, she was able to eloquently share her experience with the entire school.

"She had the self-confidence to tell us all about it," Maxwell recalls. "It was a powerful speech that left the whole auditorium silent - we were astounded."

It's a success story that Maxwell has seen repeatedly.

Montcrest School students with learning disabilities find a small, supportive group setting, with an emphasis on developing self-confidence. While receiving intense instruction in math, English and reading, special education students are also integrated into regular classes in drama, physical education and music. Maxwell says it helps the special-needs students develop self-esteem, and teaches the other students socialization skills.

"Regular and special-needs students work together," Maxwell says, "and the result is that we have a real community here."

Giving individualized attention to kids who need it

In spring 2004, Nik Papaioannou wrapped up his fifth year as a Grade 11 and 12 math and science teacher at Pinehurst School, but he'll be the first to tell you Pinehurst is much more than your average school.

"There is a real sense of community here," says Papaioannou of the coed middle and secondary boarding school in St. Catharines, Ontario. "Being a boarding school and small in size, we play sports together after school, take class trips together - the kids know me as a person, outside my role as teacher, and I get to know them . . . That relationship parlays back into the classroom."

The school's strong commitment to community is key to helping teachers carry out the school's mission: To motivate all students to achieve their potential in intellectual, emotional, social, physical and moral development.

To that end, the school offers students with learning, behavioural or social problems a structured educational environment with rigorous instruction in all subjects and intense preparation for post-secondary study. Students have the opportunity to better understand their interests, skills and abilities, to develop self-confidence and to forge effective social relationships.

"I find it very rewarding teaching in a school where the classes are so small," Papaioannou says. "I can give individualized attention to kids who need it."

Students who you think couldn't make it become successful

In 1993, 12-year-old Adam Beck arrived at the Shoore Centre for Learning in Toronto, unable to read or write. But that's not what Michael Shoore, admission director of the Grade 7 to 12 special-needs day school remembers most about Beck's experience.

"When he started here . . . he had a lot of problems with language and he barely spoke," says Shoore, who founded the centre 29 years ago. "I remember giving him a brain-teasing problem in spatial visual relations, and he got it in 10 seconds. I knew that he had a lot of non-verbal abilities, but his literacy problems were holding him back."

That's no longer the case. By the time he graduated in 1999, Adam had learned to read, and has since become a member of the national ski patrol, a waterfront instructor at Camp Kodiak and an air cadet.

Adam's story is one of many that underscore the success of the Shoore formula: dedicated staff, small group instruction and personalized education programs. All Shoore students, whether studying full time or enrolled in a tutoring program, have access to a safe and nurturing learning environment, well-equipped classrooms and structured lessons that encompass homework, study skills, projects and exams.

The programs are geared toward students with ADD, learning disabilities, head injuries, weaknesses in reading, writing and math, and difficulties problem solving, organizing, setting priorities and managing time.

"Students who you'd think couldn't make it become successful," Shoore says. "They are not limited by learning disabilities - they can go to post-secondary school and build careers."

Learning to love school and become a star pupil

"I don't feel like a ghost anymore. I put up my hand and someone helps me right away."

These were the words 12-year-old Michael Szumigaj used three years ago to describe his first year at Star Academy in Mississauga, Ontario. They brought tears to the eyes of his mother, Helen. Up until then, she'd understood that her learning-disabled son had been having difficulties keeping up at the local public school, but had no idea of the profound effect it was having on his self-esteem.

All of that changed at Star Academy, a coed primary day school that features specialized learning plans for students with learning disabilities, low self-esteem and ADD. Highly trained teachers working in small class settings tailor their methodologies and help students capitalize on their individual strengths. Students learn through a unique combination of academic study and social skills development, in a nurturing environment that promotes respect and personal growth.

The experience has paid off for Michael, who is doing well academically, has discovered a passion for reading and drama, and is participating in intramural sports. He's also shown himself to be a leader by taking on managing responsibilities for the school's recycling program.

What further convinced Helen that Star Academy was the right choice for Michael was when she witnessed first-hand the school's strong sense of community.

"We would go to talent shows and science fairs, and what impressed me most was watching the older students in Grades 7 and 8 take care of students in the younger grades. If there was a problem, they would put a hand on their arm to calm them down and find out what the problem was," Helen recalls. "Because of Star Academy, Michael has changed completely and now absolutely loves school."

A supportive and intimate place for academic upgrading

For 12-year-old student Christina, it has been a life-changing experience that her mother, Eva, still marvels at. Up until the spring of 2003, Christina had been struggling through at a Mississauga elementary school, slipping further behind the other students as she tried, in vain, to absorb the day's lessons.

Then a friend told Eva about Wildwood Academy in Oakville, Ontario, an academic upgrading day school for students in Grades 3 to 8. In the fall of 2003, life for Christina took a dramatic turn for the better.

Instead of waking up each morning dreading the day ahead, Christina embraced her new supportive, intimate environs. She benefited tremendously from the school's direct instruction approach to teaching the full spectrum of subjects, which follows the formula of modeling, repetition, mastery, ongoing review and application. Wildwood trains students through individualized education plans, highly structured instruction and study-habit training.

What this meant for Christina was a genuine boost in self-esteem, marked by significantly better grades, a greatly improved vocabulary, a spot as assistant captain of her school hockey team, and even writing a short book for a class assignment.

"Christina loves to go to school now - she's always smiling and looking forward to the next day," Eva says. She has become a totally new girl.

View a list of all private schools for learning disabilities.
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