Private Schools Offer Help for Students with Learning Disabilities



Children Learning

Getting children the best education is important for every parent and the primary reason parents enroll their children in private schools, even religious schools. But what if a parent’s best intentions become thwarted upon discovering their child has a learning disability (LD) such as ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, or something on the autism spectrum? What then? 

Often, private schools can still be the best choice for learning disabled children. Typically, class sizes are smaller which provides a better ratio of teacher-to-student. The ratio advantage can offer more individual time for a student’s needs. Charter and Montessori schools are prime examples of flexibility.

Additional advantages of a private school environment include the ability to go almost anywhere once the student is tested and accepted. School zoning will not restrict placement. Academically, private schools may be more challenging for a learning disabled child—a huge advantage for those who get bored easily. Research shows that learning disabilities are no measurement of intelligence capability. If anything, children with learning disabilities are typically quite bright.

For parents and teachers suspicious their child may have difficulty learning, the first step is to get a professional diagnosis. Once the specific disability and its severity has been identified, help can be obtained—even if the child is in a private school setting. Some private schools have developed resources to accommodate their students in-house. Extra help is sometimes contracted through outside specialists such as Lindamood Bell and Speech Therapists, who are trained to help students with dyslexia or comprehension disabilities.

While private schools may not have the exact same services available as those in public schools, which are mandated by the federal government, some help may be available under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Once a child has been evaluated either by the school district or a licensed professional and found to have a learning disability, parents can formally apply for special education services to be delivered via the private school that operates within the public school district. This is a key element that IDEA legislation provides.

Overall, the private school environment may offer better opportunities for the learning disabled student. Given an individual school’s commitment through a teacher ratio, greater latitude and creativity, along with existing IDEA provisions, the learning disabled student can experience an enlivened education with less stigmatization than in public schools.

What is ADD/ADHD?

The core diagnostic symptoms for ADD/ADHD include inattention, inability to sustain attention required to complete a task, distractibility, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. Behaviors can vary in severity. Subcategory symptoms can include memory, organizational skills, difficulty in learning from mistakes and social behavior anomalies. ADD/ADHD is a genetic brain-based syndrome, and diagnosis needs to be determined by a professional.

What is Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a reading fluency, spelling and comprehension disability derived from a phonetic and phonological awareness problem. At its foundation, dyslexia is an inability to decode words, match letters to sounds and use the sequence of letter-sounds to see and read words accurately, with fluency.

What is Autism?

Autism is a broad range of mental acuities and performance challenges typically characterized by interrupted and/or cyclic thought processes affecting social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and/or nonverbal communication challenges.

While this is not a comprehensive learning disability list, the above remains the most common. Moreover, none of the above syndromes represent IQ or mental capability. Instead, they reflect interruptions in a child’s ability to learn in the most commonly delivered ways in American educational systems today.