There are four school boards in Toronto: Toronto District School Board, Toronto Catholic School Board, Toronto French Public Board, Toronto French Catholic District School Board (or "Toronto French Separate Board"). Your child's school belongs to one of those boards. Go on their website and read about "Special Education Programs and Services". Offerings and administration of those resources vary from one school to another based on the affiliation with the board.
When it is time to register your child for the kindergarten at your home school you will have to take the following steps:
- Register your child with the home school
- Inform the school about your child diagnosis (or that your are waiting for one).
- Request Identification, Placement and Review Committee meeting (IPRC meeting) for your child.
The main purpose of IPRC is to do four things:
- Identify your child as "Exceptional Pupil"
- Discuss Strength & Needs of your child (which is a foundation for the IEP development)
- Offer an Educational Placement (Regular or Special Education Class) for your child
- Discuss Program & Service Recommendations for your child
According to the Toronto District School Board Special Education Report , there are the following types of placement:
1. Regular Class
This is the IPRC placement decision for those students with special needs for whom more than 50% of instructional time is delivered by a regular class teacher in a regular classroom.
There are three types of Regular Class Placements:
- Regular Class with Indirect Support
The student is placed in a regular class for the entire school day and receives direct instruction from a regular classroom teacher who receives specialized consultative services.
- Regular Class with Resource Assistance.
The student is placed in a regular class and receives direct specialized instruction, individually or in a small group, within the regular classroom from a special education teacher.
- Regular Class with Withdrawal Assistance.
The student is placed in a regular class and receives instruction outside the regular classroom for less than 50% of the school day from a special education teacher.
2. Special Education Class
This is the IPRC placement decision for those students with special needs for whom 50 % or more of instructional time is delivered by a special education teacher in a special education classroom where the pupil-teacher ratio conforms to Regulation 298 (R.R.O.1990, Section 31).
There are two types of Special Education Class placements:
- Special Education Class with Partial Integration.
The student is placed in a special education class but is integrated with a regular class for at least one instructional period daily.
- Special Education Class Full Time.
The student is placed in a special education class for the entire school day.
It is very important to understand what type of placement will help your child to reach his/her highest potential, and sometimes it is very hard to choose.
If your child is going to start kindergarten, and you think that your child can handle a busy environment with 20-30 kids around, than regular class with Resource Assistance or a Special Needs Assistant could be the right choice. Every child is different, and you know your child better than anyone else. It is important to have a realistic idea about your child strengths and needs, and what kind of environment your child can handle and benefit the most from.
When it is time for your child to enter the grade one, as an option, you may consider entering your child in Intensive Support Program for children with Autism (ISP Autism) offered by Toronto District School Board. The placement in this program must be recommended by the IPRC. Below is a brief description of this program:
Students placed in an Intensive Support Program (Autism):
- Are identified with an Autism exceptionality at an IPRC
- Are assessed as having average thinking and reasoning skills
- Demonstrate evidence of severely impaired social, communication, and behavioral skills, as shown through professional and/or teacher assessments
- Show evidence of lack of success with significant special education support and services and the use of ABA strategies.
Secondary Autism ISP programs are run similarly to Secondary Resource programs. However, it is a crucial piece to the model of the Autism ISP program that the students have consistent teacher(s) able to support them throughout the day, in a designated room.
The ISP room is available to provide resource support to those students who need it throughout the day, in addition to offering GLE. An Autism resource classroom is staffed by the Autism ISP allocation, for GLE instruction and non-integrating student instruction with the understanding that in any one period the staff student ratio does not exceed 6:1. The students have the opportunity to be fully integrated for their credits and additional support staff is allocated to facilitate their integration.
Recommended Class Sizes: Primary - 6, Junior - 6, Intermediate- 6, Senior - Numbers must comply with the Secondary Accord.
No matter which school your child goes to, you need to be able to "advocate positively and effectively" for your child (Ed Mahony, n.d.). We also believe that good interpersonal skills and positive energy matter. It is best to start building a trusting and open relationship with your child's school right away.
There are a few simple rules that could help you be successful in the interest of your child:
- Learn about rules, laws (Education Act), policies and program memoranda on special education and your child's condition. (For example, autism is covered in PPM 140.)
- Know what your child's strengths and weaknesses are, i.e., what are the needs and talents. Track your child's progress and changes within each category of skills. Even better: Create a table for those characteristics and update it every 3-6 months. Your child changes all the time.
- Try to collaborate and build team around your child's issue.
- Follow the chain of command. Talk to the classroom teacher first before going up to CERT/MART, Vice Principal, Principal and, ultimately, the School Board.
- Be calm and respectful.
- Listen to and evaluate different perspectives on the same topic and/or the child.
- Prepare and rehearse your questions. Anticipate different scenarios and response options.
- Keep your own notes on all interactions (email, phone, face-to-face meetings) with the school and the School Board. Ask for a copy of the official meeting notes when possible.
- Never go to school meetings alone. Take a relative or another parent to support you.
- Bring along a translator or request one from the school/board in advance.
- Never agree to anything that you do not understand.
- Never sign anything that you do not agree to or otherwise understand.
Education System (Ontario, Canada)
Policy/Program Memorandum No. 140:
Ministry of Education:
Special Education: General
Identification, Placement and Review Committee
The Individual Education Plan (IEP), A Resource Guide (2004)
Individual Education Plans (Samples):
People for Education (covers many topics)
Autism Ontario Toronto Chapter, Education Topics
School Advocacy as Constructive Communication: "Shared Solutions" Manual (MOE, 2007):
City of Toronto, Services for Children with Special Needs
"We All Belong" and "Keeping in Touch" Newsletters
List of Educational Consultants & School Issues Advocates:
- Autism Path Team: If you are new to this country or do not have any friends and relatives living in Canada, we can help you by coaching and/or accompanying to a school meeting. Since we are not educational consultants or lawyers, we cannot provide any legal representation. We cannot guarantee any positive outcomes of your meetings either. We are an extra parent support resource, parent advocates, and as such there are limitations to what we can do. Please email us with your questions and concerns at email@example.com.
- Parent Advocacy with Dr. Forman: http://www.parentsadvocacy.com/parentsadvocacy/home http://www.parentsadvocacy.com/parentsadvocacy/resources
Parent's Advocacy in the Schools, Leaside Post Office, 1531 Bayview Avenue, Toronto, ON M4G 4G8
- Ed Mahony, Education Consultant, ("Positive Advocacy"):
http://mahonyadvocacy.com/ and 905-906-6021 (voice/text).
- Autism Ontario SEAC Representatives in each School Board: http://www.autismontario.com/client/aso/ao.nsf/Toronto/Chapter+-+Contacts (bottom of the page).
- Georgina Rayner ("How to Grow a Spine! Advocating for your child with ASD in the School System"), Parent Advocate at firstname.lastname@example.org or 5 Martin Road, Toronto, Ontario, M4S 2V1
- Patricia (Pat) O'Connor, Education Consultant
- Lynn Ziraldo, Learning Disabilities Expert from York Region
- Human Rights Legal Support Centre
400 University Avenue, 7th Floor Toronto, Ontario M7A 1X8
By telephone :Tel: (416) 314-6266 Toll Free: 1-866-625-5179 TTY: (416) 314-6651 TTY Toll Free: 1-866 612-8627
Disclaimer: Autism Path does not endorse any individual or an organization mentioned in this two-page hand-out. We will upload relevant school-related information on its website at http://www.autism-path.com/education.html. Stay tuned for more information and updates! The Autism-Path website is designed for information purpose ONLY. Do not start any biomedical interventions at home. Please contact your child's physician (pediatrician) to get a professional opinion.