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Applying to schools as a special need student

  • There’s no denying that special needs children are faced with a myriad of barriers. They are faced with daily challenges that most of their peers may not have to deal with; this is why their needs are unique. In addition, the requirements for each child are different, and parents have other priorities for their ward. Because of this, several factors must be taken into consideration when selecting a school for these children. This article highlights ten factors applicable to special needs students when choosing a school.  

    Positive environment

    This one is a little self-explanatory. If a good seed is planted in lousy soil, it can never bear good fruits. Also, if the ground is excellent but other factors such as water supply, sunlight, and pest control aren’t favorable, the plant will suffer. It’s the same thing with special needs students. A positive environment can facilitate growth and development. Children should feel loved, accepted, and cared for when interacting with staff and other students during school. A lack of this feeling can make them uncomfortable and hinder their progress academically and across different spheres of life.

    Infrastructure

    The level of infrastructure in a school can significantly determine how well you perform in that school. Evidence shows that high-quality infrastructure has several benefits, such as low dropout rates and improved student outcomes. However, laboratories, classrooms, playgrounds, and libraries are just the tip of the iceberg of what any good school is expected to have. Asides from the regular facilities, it is essential for the school to have resource centers that function as a learning space for special education teachers and their students. 

    Special aids

    Just like having a positive environment and modern infrastructure is essential, so are special aids and educators. Examples of special aids include psychologists, child therapists, and teachers specializing in dealing with special needs children. It is crucial for a school to have such a team of professionals because it makes it possible to cater to your needs. They do this by working alongside other staff to create a curriculum that is tailored to your academic, social, and behavioral needs.  Not only that, but they can also monitor how your needs change over time and address it without your academic life being affected.

    Accessibility

    Every factor on this list is vital to consider, but significant priority should be given to this one. The more accessible the school is to the parents or caregivers, the better. It is not uncommon for special needs students to experience meltdowns when faced with daily challenges. However, knowing that your parents or loved ones are close by can bring a sense of comfort. Also, there may be instances where your parents are requested to be present for something urgent concerning your wellbeing. Selecting a school closely situated to your family’s place of work or residence will allow them to handle the situations listed above with ease.

    Extra school activities

    Now and then, schoolwork can be overwhelming to deal with; we find ourselves unwillingly slacking behind on academic work, and our grades begin to decline. Special needs students are no exception to this phenomenon; they may be more prone to it. More often than not, the best way to handle this is to take up extra-school activities or after-school activities. As a student with special needs, be sure to select a school with after-school activities or classes that can help you keep up with schoolwork. This could be anything from a bulky syllabus to cover or too much homework.

    Transport facilities

    Before today a major factor parents had to consider when selecting schools for their children was geographical proximity. Today, this is no longer the case. Parents are now comfortable sending their children to schools a long distance away from where they live or work. The reason for this change lies in the transportation system. Earlier, we mentioned that accessibility is an essential factor to watch out for when selecting a school as a special needs student. However, if the transportation system is such that distance has no effect on how you can be accessed, the earlier point becomes nullified. While you may not use it, there is no harm in having transportation facilities at your convenience. Even better if staff can accompany you during your movement.

    Inclusive policies

    Nobody wants to get into something they don’t understand. Therefore, any school you’re looking at should state its policies as clearly as possible. Not only are they expected to list out what services they offer, but they should also say how their policies are inclusive of special needs students. This revolves around explaining how neurotypical children and special needs children interact within a classroom.

    Flexible teaching methods

    Remember that your needs are unique to you, and as special needs students, your school should be able to cater to them. Therefore, it is essential that your teachers or educators are skilled in working with special needs students. They should have the ability to tweak the school’s curriculum to conform with your learning style or, better still, design a curriculum tailored to your individual needs. This will increase your engagement and participation in your schoolwork. For this to be possible, educators and teachers should be trained in working with students through various mediums. 

    Open schooling- Provision for National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS)

    It’s not enough for your school to have flexible teaching methods, and it has to cut across all facets of its administration. When searching for a school, please find out about how flexible their examinations are as well. To make the test-taking process fair to all students, schools should ensure that their examination conditions comply with the standards set for special needs students. One way to do this is to create a provision for taking exams through the National Institute of Open Schooling. The standard Central Board of Secondary Education may be more difficult for these students.

    Transparency

    This one is non-negotiable. If the school you consider is giving you hints of dishonesty or a lack of transparency, you should consider it a red flag. Institutions should be honest about their status with their parents or guardians. At any time, there is an incident that needs their attention, they should be duly informed. Even if their attention is not required and the school is able to manage it effectively, parents and guardians should still be in the know. This will boost the trust of you and your caretakers in the school and make you more comfortable in their environment.

    Conclusion

    Just like adults, children are entitled to having equal opportunities regardless of any challenge they may be facing. For students with disabilities or special needs, special needs education is of great importance to their wellbeing. Not only does it give them an opportunity to receive standard education tailored to their unique needs, but it also boosts the chances of reaching their full potential.

    While there are schools designed specifically for special needs students, there is a chance that you may want to school alongside your neurotypical peers. In this case, you should consider schools that are inclusive of special needs individuals like you. Hopefully, this article has outlined some key factors to watch out for when selecting a school as a special needs student.

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