Choosing a Special Education School

A child’s mental health diagnosis can be scary but it is not uncommon. According to the National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, 13 to 20 percent of children in the United States (1 in 5) are diagnosed with a mental disorder each year.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines a childhood mental disorder as “serious changes in the ways children typically learn, behave, or handle their emotions, which can be diagnosed and begin in childhood; for example, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Tourette syndrome, behavior disorders, mood and anxiety disorders, and autism spectrum disorders.”

How do you choose the right special education school for your child?

Once you’ve identified a professional you and your child trust and feel comfortable with, a treatment plan will be developed to help manage your child’s symptoms and challenges successfully. If a special education program is a part of the path you plan to take, or the recommendation on your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP), there are numerous options for setting, size and philosophy.

Researching programs that tie into your child’s strengths or areas of interest are a good start. School districts can also be helpful in recommending programs, particularly if other students in the district have been placed there. A qualified educational consultant or advocate may also be hired to assist families interested in moving their child to an alternate school.

The best time to tour a school is when classes are in session. This gives parents an idea of day-to-day operations as well as a sense of how comfortable their child will be in the environment. Meeting teachers, clinical staff and even some attending students can also be helpful in easing concerns.

Helpful websites

A Good Read

Green Chimneys School Admissions Director Lara Signorini offers helpful insights and additional resources in, My Child Has Been Diagnosed … Now What?, an article in a past issue of Westchester Family magazine.  Read the article