When a child’s health problems cause physical disabilities, his parents might consider placing him in a school for the physically disabled. While traditional school districts do provide as many services as they can for these students, some students might benefit from a more specialized learning experience.
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Schools for the physically disabled provide educational and health services for students with physical impairments. A physical disability could include, but is not limited to, visual, auditory, mobility, speaking or manipulation problems.
A 1998 UNICEF study found that most traditional schools lack special facilities and services to provide for the educational and health needs of students with physical disabilities. The study also found that 89 percent of schools claimed that they didn’t have admissions criteria for students with disabilities.
According to the Disabled Schools Guide, schools for the physically disabled can provide specialized help for those with more challenging conditions, or those who might also have sensory or cognitive difficulties. In addition, the teachers at a school for the physically disabled have specialized knowledge and can tailor the student’s educational experience to his needs. These schools also have other personnel, such as psychologists and medical doctors, who are a part of the student’s care.
Schools for the physically disabled are more likely than traditional schools to have the latest technologies and equipment to assist students. Some schools even have residential facilities. Boarding at school can encourage independence and confidence, according to the Disabled Schools Guide.
To attend a school for the physically disabled, students must have a referral from their school district. The referral verifies that the child with physical disabilities can’t receive adequate services at his local public school. The Montana School for the Deaf and Blind, for instance, requires documentation of the child’s medical and education history. After receiving this information, the schools review the child’s file to see if he is eligible for services.
School districts are encouraged to mainstream students with both physical and cognitive disabilities. Mainstreaming allows children with special needs to remain a part of a typical educational environment. Schools make accommodations to allow students to be in traditional classrooms. For instance, a school might install an elevator if it has a student who uses a wheelchair.