The 50 Best Private Special Needs Schools in the United States
41. Forman School, Litchfield, CT
Founded in 1930, Forman School specializes in meeting the needs of students who learn differently, whether because of dyslexia, ADHD, or executive functioning difficulties. Its comprehensive curriculum is influenced by the reading innovator, Dr. Samuel T. Orton (co-founder of the Orton-Gillingham method of reading), and by Albert Einstein, one of the school’s first board members who himself struggled with reading in school. Currently, as a college preparatory school, Forman provides for the academic needs of its students and ensures that in addition to gaining the subject knowledge that students will need to attend university, students also learn to analyze and think critically in general. Every student is required to take Thinking and Writing, a course which emphasizes how the writing process is foremost about critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Students leave Forman with both academic skills and a better understanding of how their own needs and personalities affect their learning and progress.
Profile: co-ed boarding school for grades 9-12 with day options
Student-Faculty Ratio: 4:1
Tuition: $66,100/year (boarding); $54,000/year (day)
42. Trident Academy, Mt. Pleasant, SC
As an accredited school for children with learning differences including dyslexia, dyscalculia, non-verbal learning disabilities, Asperger’s, and attention struggles, Trident Academy provides multi-sensory instruction in a supportive environment. While its Orton-Gillingham approach emphasizes instruction in reading and writing, the school ensures that cross-curricular collaboration occurs among all departments so that students may apply knowledge and build upon each learned skill. Trident’s program includes Language Enrichment and Development (LEAD) for focusing on language-related tasks beginning with handwriting and working up to vocabulary and written expression. Students attend one LEAD class per day, and for those who require additional assistance, after-school academic therapy services are available. With 98% of its students going on to attend college/university, Trident Academy ensures individualized, creative attention that produces results.
Profile: co-ed day school for grades K-5 (transitioning to K-8 in 2014/2015)
Student-Faculty Ratio: 3:1
Tuition: $27,030/year (new families); $25,530/year (returning families)
43. Centreville School, Centreville, DE
Centreville School emphasizes the importance of early intervention in young children’s language and motor developmental needs. The Early Start program offers occupational and speech therapy, and students meet with a reading specialist and psychologist to ensure preparedness for Kindergarten and beyond. For elementary and middle school students, Centreville provides a core academic curriculum comprised of reading, math, science, social sciences, history, art, technology, and physical education. The school’s Social Intelligence program focuses on socialization and management of behavior and emotions, and prepares individuals for transition to mainstream schools or college.
Profile: co-ed day school for ages 3-14
Student-Faculty Ratio: 4:1
44. Miriam School, St. Louis, MO
Miriam School takes a team approach toward educating its students. Its small classes, specialized instruction, and custom curricula accommodate the needs of its students who are challenged with learning, speech/language, sensory-motor, attention, and social skill delays. Miriam’s Learning Center provides evaluative, therapeutic, and tutoring services for students and families after school, in the evening, and on weekends, and its day school program feature multi-grade classrooms with expert teachers who support each student with logical, sequential writing instruction and math practice. The school’s attention to the student’s comprehensive needs takes form in social skills groups and recreation classes. Miriam School’s students always transition equipped with the academic, social, and emotional tools to ensure future educational success.
Profile: co-ed day school for age 4-grade 8
Student-Faculty Ratio: 10:1
Awards: Deaconess Foundation Award (2007)
Tuition: $51,425/year boarding; $27,470/year day
45. The dePaul School, Louisville, KY
In the 1960s, the dePaul School opened as a place for students with learning differences who were not succeeding in mainstream classrooms, or whose needs were not being addressed in their educational settings. Today, the school provides a creative, individualized learning environment for students with a variety of needs, from difficulty with subjects such as reading or mathematics, to struggles with organization and time management. When students arrive at dePaul, they are provided with a Map for Success, a teaching strategy which combines multi-sensory, attention-based learning with a structured class setting and emphasis on practiced skills. Each student learns to integrate his/her education within daily life, even beyond the classroom. For example, as instructors demonstrate effective ways to process information, they help students to be aware of the times in which they lose focus, so that students learn to identify such situations and cope with them in and out of class. The dePaul School focuses on challenging its students, building upon acquired knowledge, and providing an education that attends to a student’s academic, social, behavioral, and physical needs.
Profile: co-ed day school for grades K-8
Student-Faculty Ratio: 8:1
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