When to Consider a Specialized School

by Andrea Wackerle

When to Consider a Specialized School

Moving from a public school to a private, specialized school is a big commitment, emotionally and usually financially. However, the impact can be powerful! If any or some of these situations apply to you and your child, it may be time to look into a specialized program that will better meet your child’s needs.

Change in Attitude Toward School

Your child may begin to say they are “bored” with school, which can often be a coping mechanism for an area they are struggling with. Your child may also start to show frustration, negativity, or a lack of motivation toward school that wasn’t present before. These are both indications that a specialized school could be a positive alternative to your child’s current classroom setting.

Beginning to Accept the “Stigma”

Students with ADHD or other learning differences face so many challenges in the classroom that they actually begin to believe some of the myths of having a learning disability—that they are stupid, a failure, etc. These stigmas couldn’t be further from the truth! A specialized school can help break the mold that your child has put themselves in so that they can start to see all of their amazing strengths!

Lack of Support from Teachers and School Officials

Hopefully you have an IEP or 504 plan for your child and your child’s teachers and school officials are doing everything they can to accommodate your child’s needs. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. If you have been struggling with getting your child’s school or teachers to make the proper accommodations for your child, it may be time to consider a specialized school with smaller class sizes and a greater ability to work with your child on an individual level.

Low Self Esteem or Lack of Motivation

Low self-esteem and a lack of motivation likely stem from challenges your child is facing in the classroom. A prolonged presence of these feelings can have a negative impact on your child’s future success. A specialized school that places focus on helping your child achieve success in and out of the classroom can help break some of these negative feelings and build your child’s confidence and zest for learning!

Avoids Responsibility

Avoiding responsibility is part of being a teenager…to an extent. Learning to take responsibility for day to day tasks as simple as brushing your teeth are a huge part of growing into a successful adult. If your child is struggling in these areas, look for a school that also focuses on developing responsibility and helping students build essential life skills.

NEEDS Structure

Does your child thrive in a structured environment? Or fall apart during free time? Specialized schools are typically very structured, 24 hours a day. The daily schedule stays the same, the support system is consistent, and there is typically always a staff member available to offer guidance and support. This structured environment could be just what your child needs to stay on the track to success.

Thrive in Small Groups

If your child is already facing challenges in the classroom, a large class size and lack of personalized attention are probably making it easier for them to fall further behind without much notice. Learning in a small group setting helps your child to stay more focused and get the attention they need should they have questions, ideas to share, or need help staying on task. If you do decide to consider a specialized school, be sure to consider class size as an important success factor.


The ADDitude Resource Directory is a great source for finding schools in your area that specialize in ADHD or learning disabilities. Many states also have their own directories of private schools.