What kind of supports can my child get through school?

If you are new to the Ontario school system and you have a child that needs extra help in school, you will be glad to know that there are many supports available to students in all school boards and not just in the special education program in Ontario.

When you enrol your child in publicly funded schools in Ontario, you will need to provide only certain documents.

If your child has developmental, learning, health or other considerations that you feel the school should know about, you can let them know in the registration form or ask what other documentation they may want for your child’s file. These things will not prevent your child from enroling, it will just help the school to know as soon as possible so they can have supports in place to help your child succeed. If you need assistance enrolling your child you can ask your settlement worker or the school’s settlement worker for help.

In some school boards, newcomer students go to an assessment or reception centre where their Mathematics and English language skills are tested.

How can the school help with learning disabilities?

Your child might need to be evaluated for an Individual Education Plan (IEP). Most of the time an IEP is considered for students that need extra support with one or more of these areas of exceptionalities:

  • Behaviour - This includes children that have issues with impulse control or even anxiety or phobias.
  • Communication - This includes students that are Deaf and Hard of Hearing, Autistic, have Speech Impairments or have a Learning Disability.
  • Intellectual - This includes students identified as Gifted or with a Developmental Disability
  • Physical - This includes physical limitations that may require special assistance and those diagnosed as blind or with low vision.

Rehabilitation Therapy

Based on your child’s identified needs and age, they may qualify for occupational therapy (OT), speech therapy, and/or physical therapy (PT) through the school. Some school boards have service providers that visit the school and offer therapy during school hours. In other regions, you may need to take your child to the service provider, but it may still be covered through provincial funding.

Special Equipment Amount (SEA) for Assistive Technology

The Special Equipment Amount (SEA) provides funding to school boards to assist with the costs of equipment essential to support students with special education needs. This equipment provides students with accommodations that are required and essential for succeeding in school.

Technology and equipment purchased with SEA funding can include computers, software, equipment to support personal care, physical assists, sensory needs, vision needs and equipment for students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.

If your child qualifies for the SEA funding, their teacher or principal can apply for the appropriate technology for their specific educational needs. When necessary, your child will also receive training on how to effectively use their assistive technology and you may be invited to participate in the training so you can help your child at home.

What is the Gifted Program?

The Ontario Ministry of Education defines giftedness as an unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires enriched learning experiences beyond those normally provided. Students who are gifted may find the pace of the class relatively slow for them. Your child must be identified as gifted by an Identification, Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) in order to be placed in a gifted program.

My child needs to learn English, what will the school do?

Many schools offer support for English Language Learners (ELL). If there are enough children needing support, there may be classes for those students. If there are only a few, then there may be individual support. To find out what language programs are available, contact your local school board or your child's school.

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For More Information

  • How can I get my child assessed for school support? - Every student learns differently. Some students need more support than others. From Settlement.Org.
  • Special Education - Some students may need extra support from a special education program to help them be successful in school. This tip sheet explains the process for ensuring students get the help they need. From People for Education. Available in more than 10 languages.
  • Assistive Devices Program (ADP) - If you have a long-term physical disability, you can get help paying for equipment and supplies when you qualify for the Assistive Devices Program. From Settlement.Org
Last updated: January 26, 2023 4006509