More often than not, special education programs are found in public schools that receive funding directly related to serving students with special needs and learning disabilities. Special education programs in private schools are fewer and further between. In part, this is because of the lack of designated funding, and in part, because most private educational institutions have smaller class sizes and are more readily able to cater to the special needs of any given student. There are, however, private school and private tutorial options at all levels for students with special needs.
According to the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC), there are 6.6 million students being served through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 3.4% of those students are being served by a private schools of some sort. A group like the NAPSEC connects parents and students with private schools and organizations that serve special needs students from preschool to adulthood. Some of these learning centers are more traditional private schools, and some of them are organizations that offer tutorial services from private educators.
Private institutions like The Summit School in Edgewater, Maryland provide a range of educational services to special needs students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Summit educates students in grades one through eight and works to integrate students into traditional high schools. The tuition is $28,472 for the 2013-2014 academic year, which is comparable to many traditional private schools. Also, like most traditional private grade schools, financial aid is available in different forms.
An excellent resource for finding private preschool, elementary, middle, and high schools in any given state is the site Private School Review. This site allows you to narrow your school search to find private special education schools in your home state. An investigation of these institutions will show schools with small student populations – for example, their list of private special needs high schools in Missouri shows a range of student totals from 6 to 194 while elementary school student totals range from 11 to 194 – that allow teachers greater freedom to concentrate their attention on the individual needs of each student. Schools on this list focus on providing education to students with vastly differing special needs, from mild learning disabilities to severe mental handicaps. Many offer individualized learning programs geared towards specific needs students. In addition to fairly traditional classroom settings, many of these schools offer tutoring and other services from education professionals who are trained to help special needs students. The yearly tuition rates at most of these schools range from $10,000 to $30,000 and many have financial aid opportunities.
There are also plenty of options for special needs students preparing for college. Colleges designed exclusively to serve the needs of these students are far more rare than are private preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools. However, many colleges have programs that are designed to meed special educational needs, and some are better than others. The website Best Colleges Online ranks twenty colleges that excel at catering to students with special needs. The University of Iowa, which tops the list, has designated residence halls and community-based internships for students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. At West Virginia Wesleyan College, students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, and other special needs can make use of the Mentor Advantage Program which offers a wide range of support to help with the college transition. Other colleges have special programs to assist students with autism, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, and physical impairments like blindness of hearing-impairment. The assistance often includes services that help with specialized study skills, job placement, and even self advocacy and social skills. These colleges and universities are all subject to ever increasing tuition costs, and some of these special services are fee-based.
There are many options for private schooling and tutoring from preschool through high school for students with special needs. When college is in view, the specialized options become more limited. However, many college programs work to ensure that their special needs students are equipped study, work, and social skills to help them succeed.