Special Education K-12 in NJ and the Options a Parent Has
For a parent with a special needs child when it comes to formal education, there are more options than you might think. But not everyone realizes that special education K-12 in NJ is available not only through public schools but also via private institutions.
Figuring out the best educational options for your special needs child can be a difficult task. It’s all about evaluating which educational program would best meet your child’s specific needs. Here are a few tips on how to weigh in all your options.
Understanding Your Child’s Specific Needs
The first step in the process is fully comprehending your child’s disabilities and what his or her educational needs may be. This can be done with the help of your pediatrician or child psychologist.
Educational programs will need to be tailored to your child’s particular strengths and weaknesses. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide special education and related services to eligible students. Here are the thirteen diagnoses that determine eligibility for those services:
1. Specific Learning Disability (SLD)
Under this umbrella term fall dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, auditory processing disorder, nonverbal learning disability, and other conditions that affect a child’s ability to write, read, speak, listen, reason or do math.
2. Other health impairment
Under this umbrella term are included conditions that limit a child’s strength, energy or alertness. ADHD is one example that falls under here.
3. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
ASD is a developmental disability.
4. Speech or language impairment
Under this umbrella term fall communication problems like stuttering, impaired articulation, language or voice impairment.
5. Emotional disturbance
n this category fall a number of mental disorders like anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia.
6. Visual impairment, including blindness
This condition includes both partial sight and blindness.
Severe hearing impairment that does not allow for language processing through hearing.
8. Hearing impairment
This condition includes hearing loss not covered by the definition of deafness.
This condition includes both hearing and visual impairments.
10. Orthopedic impairment
This condition is a result of damage to areas of the brain that control the body. One example is cerebral palsy.
11. Intellectual disability
This type of disability is about having below-average intellectual ability. Down syndrome is one example of intellectual disability.
12. Traumatic brain injury
This is brain injury inflicted by accident or some kind of physical force.
13. Multiple disabilities
This diagnosis includes several of the conditions listed above.
Whether you have a child with autism, behavioral problems, down syndrome or hearing loss makes all the difference in creating an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and what to look for in a special needs educational program or a special needs school in NJ.
Public vs. Private Special Education K-12 in NJ
The state of NJ supervises federal laws that all public schools provide equal opportunity for education to all students including students with disabilities.
However, mainstream public schools and particularly smaller school districts may not be always well equipped to provide the necessary resources, settings or staff to support the needs of students with various disabilities.
In some cases, the public school will make a recommendation that parents of special need students seek private schools, but in other cases parents may feel that the public program is not meeting their child’s need, and can opt to enroll their child in a private special needs school.
The consideration of the quality of the special education program is a top reason to often choose a private school vs. public one. But why this choice often feels the right choice for parents is the feeling of being accepted for their children. Children with disabilities may often experience bullying and have a hard time fitting in a public school.
At private schools, like the Alpha School, where educational programs are specifically tailored to their needs and those of students with similar disabilities, students usually report feeling accepted and being able to make friends. Which is all the reason you need to make a better choice for a successful K-12 education for your child.
Special Education Private Schools in NJ Cost
What many parents may not realize is that the cost of tuition for private special education K-12 schools may be available through the sending school district. Under the federal IDEA, public school districts and charter schools are obligated to ensure that students with disabilities receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) through an Individual Education Program (IEP).
However, if your public district is not able to offer a suitable special education program for your child, you’re entitled to have your child placed in a private school to complete his or hers K-12 educational program. And the district will pay for the private school tuition (20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(10)).
For more information, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s IDEA website which provides background about the law, as well as links to the full statute and regulations. And for more detailed information on the IDEA, including an extensive discussion of the dispute resolution process, read The Complete IEP Guide: How to Advocate for Your Special Ed Child.
About the Alpha School
The Alpha School is an approved private school for students with disabilities in the state of New Jersey. As part of the family of RKS Associates Network of Special Education Top Schools in NJ, the mission at the Alpha School is to help each child become as independent as possible, helping them get ready for a thriving future.
Located in Jackson, NJ we serve students throughout Central and Southern New Jersey. Our range of programs address autism, behavioral, speech, life skills and transition needs. Whether you live in Ocean, Monmouth, Burlington, Mercer or surrounding counties, we invite you to visit the Alpha School to see first-hand what a welcoming place we are.