If your child has a diagnosed learning disorder such as ASD, ADHD or dyslexia, there are several pathways they can take to complete their school education.
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Some schools provide a modified program within a traditional school setting while others offer innovative, specialist programs that challenge the whole way we view disability education. Research is the key to finding the right solution for your child’s needs.
Programs vary widely from state to state and school to school
In Australia, diagnosis and funding for educational support of children with learning difficulties varies considerably from state to state and this impacts the services schools can provide. You should attend any open day or school interview with an open mind. Take along any diagnostic assessments or recommendations from health professionals in order to openly discuss the suitability of the school for your family.
As part of a modified support program, schools may offer any or all of the following:
- Teacher aides
- Teaching tools such as stress balls or sloped writing boards
- In-house or readily accessed allied health staff, such as psychologists or speech therapists
- Accessible and inclusive facilities
- Multi-sensory environments, such as Snoezlen rooms, which offer visual, tactile and auditory activities to soothe or stimulate children as required
- Education programs for staff and students about diversity and inclusion
Additionally, some schools offer specialist programs with targeted learning enhancement. The Arrowsmith Program is one example gaining increasingly positive feedback.
Specialist programs - Arrowsmith leads the way
Several Australian schools are embracing the Arrowsmith Program, which approaches the challenge of learning difficulties via the emerging science of neuroplasticity. Rather than supplying tools to help a student compensate for their learning difficulties, Arrowsmith specialises in strengthening learning capacities. In many cases, Arrowsmith students will return to a standard academic environment after 3 or 4 years in the program.
The following schools in Australia teach Arrowsmith as an alternative pathway alongside traditional teaching methods to allow children to transition across programs when they’re ready:
New South Wales
- The Illawarra Grammar School in Mangerton
- Blackheath and Thornburgh College in Charters Towers
You are the best advocate for your child. Their education will be a partnership between you and their chosen school. As you research the alternatives, be open about your concerns and choose a school that is welcoming and willing to discuss your needs. You’ll be comforted to know that there are many options available to children of all abilities.