Boarding Schools for Students with Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities are neurobiological disorders that affect comprehension of oral language, mathematics and reading, as well as reasoning, memory, organization, and/or physical coordination. Learning disabilities are not the same as emotional disturbances, mental retardation or handicaps in vision and hearing. However, children with those handicaps are often in the same "special education" classes as those with learning disabilities.
A few boarding schools specialize in learning disabilities. Some even have a narrow focus such as "boys with dyslexia." However, the majority serve not only children with learning disabilities but also those with attention deficit, obsessive-compulsive disorder, addictions and other conditions. Learning disabilities often "travel" as comorbidities with these other issues.
Many families live in public school districts where "special education" programs are inadequate. In these cases, school districts often pay for part of boarding school costs.
Schools that specialize in learning disabilities teach to the individual child. Every child has his or her own style of learning: through hearing, vision, kinetic activity or a combination of styles. A good boarding school staff will perform extensive tests and observe each student. A team of psychologists, teachers and educational specialists will work together to design an individualized learning plan for each student and then monitor it to make sure the child is constantly learning at his or her highest level.
A good program offers specialized equipment such as software to enable a learning-disabled child to organize her work. Short class times with frequent breaks enable children with attention deficit disorder/hyperactivity to succeed.
Many children with learning disabilities suffer from such poor self-esteem and depression that they become more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs. A boarding school placement, even for a year or so, can really help them begin to enjoy school. As their self-esteem improves, they become less likely to act out in inappropriate ways and more focused on academic achievement.
Some boarding schools mix students with learning disabilities with those who have severe psychiatric problems.
Some school districts, particularly in large cities, already offer good programs for children with learning disabilities.
Many parents believe that every child should be mainstreamed and not endure a label. They argue that their child will not enjoy special treatment in college or on the job.