WELCOME TO SPECIAL EDUCATION
The Near North District School Board believes that all students have the potential to learn and that all students should progress to the best of their ability.
The Education Act requires that school boards provide special education programs and services for their exceptional pupils. Every effort is made to address the needs of students in a regular classroom in their community school. Some students will need a variety of program modifications and accommodations to their educational program. Other students may require more specialized educational programs and services in order to assist them to reach their full potential.
Parents are important partners in their children’s education. You are encouraged to meet frequently with the school team to discuss the educational program being planned and delivered.
Services By Department
The Near North District School Board provides the following Special Education services for our students and families.
Each school must have an attendance policy and the principal is responsible for investigating all student non-attendance according to the Administration Guidelines.
Any absenteeism will have an impact upon the student. Chronic absenteeism will usually be an indicator of academic failure and may have a direct negative effect on all areas of a child’s emotional, social development and subsequent adjustment in future years. While enforcement of attendance laws for students of compulsory school age may be a priority, attendance issues at any age must be addressed.
- resolves attendance conflicts related to student, parent and school;
- acts as a liaison among community agencies, home and school;
- prepares Education Act charges and documentation, representing the board in Provincial Offences Court as required;
- coordinates service teams to support families;
- may perform other duties as assigned by the superintendent of schools and program which may include facilitating the home schooling process.
COUNSELLING SUPPORT SERVICES
Non-attendance should be considered serious and detrimental when:
- The absence is unexplained.
- A pattern is evident.
- The absences negatively impact upon academic success.
- Ten cumulative days per term or twenty per school year, and/or
- Five to fifteen consecutive days.
In cases of serious absenteeism, the Attendance Counsellor must be consulted and a plan should be made to help the student correct the problem.
Fifteen or more consecutive days of absenteeism require a decision to be made by the school principal and Attendance Counsellor as outlined in the School Register rules. As a result, it is crucial that a plan be developed to address an individual student’s particular needs and include a variety of strategies aimed at improving school attendance. Active and cooperative involvement on the part of the student, family, and school community is essential for this process to be successful.
For more information, see your school's Attendance Handbook for complete details.
The Behaviour Support Services Team is comprised of two Behaviour Counsellors and a number of Itinerant Behaviour Educational Assistants. Through the utilization of a referral process, the Coordinator of Special Education will designate the involvement of the Behaviour Counsellor and may assign an itinerant Behaviour Educational Assistant on a short-term basis to support the needs of specific students within a school.
The Behaviour Counsellor
- Provides programs and strategies for school staff in dealing with students with extreme behavioural concerns and/or students with Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Works collaboratively with central and school teams in a facilitator role to develop behaviour intervention plans and transition plans.
- Models intervention strategies for school staff involved with students experiencing behavioural difficulties and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
- Develops resources and supports required to implement positive behavioural strategies.
- May perform other duties as assigned by the Principal of Education and/or the Coordinators of Special Education.
Itinerant Behaviour Educational Assistant
The Itinerant Behaviour Educational Assistants’ duties will vary depending on the type of classroom and the student's needs. They may include:
- Assisting classroom teachers and EAs with strategies for students having extreme behaviour difficulties who are in a period of crisis or transition.
- Assisting with the preparation, delivery and implementation of plans developed with the School Team and Behavior Support Services Team.
- Providing specific demonstrations of behavioural strategies for staff and/or teachers who will be expected to facilitate and maintain the plans.
- Demonstrating positive, proactive strategies to intervene effectively with students.
- Working collaboratively as a member of the school-based problem-solving team.
- Reporting to the Principal of Special Education.
This is a voluntary counselling service for students K – grade 12. Those referred should be students who have needs beyond school resources. Referrals are following a collaborative team meeting with the Principal, Classroom Teacher and Differentiated Resource Teacher(DLRT) and are entered into the Mental Health Referral Portal by the DLRT or Principal for centralized intake. A Student Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire is part of the referral package. Referrals are reserved for school based counselling around social, emotional or behavioral issues that may be interfering in the child’s ability to meet his or her academic potential. CDCs provide support to various schools across the region. Support for students JK-6 is usually in group format using evidence-based programs. Support for students Grade 7-12 most often follows a brief intervention model including walk-in service.
Child Development Counsellor
- provides counselling for students in a group or individually at school;
- provides evidence-based strategies and programs for principals and teachers in dealing with social, emotional and behavioural concerns;
- acts as a liaison between community agencies, home and school;
- collaborates with school teams and community partners in planning for "at risk" students;
- may perform other duties as assigned by the principal of special education or superintendent of schools and program, including crisis response
ROLE OF ITINERANT SPECIALIST TEACHER
The Itinerant Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing provides support and services to students attending their home school:
- Consults with parents, principals, teachers and resource/support personnel regarding programming needs and student support
- Provides direct service to students with mild, moderate, severe and profound hearing losses, based on their listening, language and learning needs
- Provides indirect service to schools by sharing information regarding audiological reports; types, use and troubleshooting of amplification devices (hearing aids, personal and classroom amplification systems); acoustical treatment of the classroom and teaching strategies/accommodations for deaf and hard of hearing students
- Offers awareness workshops and classroom presentations regarding hearing loss and its implications
- Provides input to Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC)
- Assists with the development of Individual Education Plans (IEP)
- Assists with Special Equipment Amount (SEA) funding applications
- Monitors, manages, repairs and distributes equipment to students with hearing losses and those having central auditory processing difficulties
- Coordinates and manages trials with amplification equipment
- Consults with other professionals in order to co-ordinate services and transition supports to and from other agencies (i.e. Cochlear implant teams at CHEO or SickKids, auditory-verbal therapists, speech-language pathologists, audiologists, behavioural therapists, occupational therapists, Infant Hearing Program, Provincial Schools’ preschool and school age programs)
- Coordinates with the student, the school team and the parents to identify post-secondary goals and appropriate activities to achieve those goals
Direct Service involves individualized supports for a student and may include:
- Language intervention
- Speech/articulation/listening skills development
- Self Identification and Self Advocacy Skills
- Academic/classroom support
- Sign Language development
The Psycho-Educational Services Team consists of one Psychologist and three Psychometrists. They are accessed through a referral process available at each school.
- provides assessments for referred pupils;
- administers tests conforming to established standards and procedures for psychological testing and completes related documentation;
- provides recommendations for programming based on assessment results;
- participates in case conferences and parent interviews;
- acts as liaison with outside agencies, as required;
- serves on committees at the board, central or area level;
- provides in-service to school staffs and community agencies as requested;
- assists with interpreting reports from other professionals;
- performs other duties within the boundaries of the above role definition as requested by the principal of special education or the superintendent of schools and program
- formulates and communicates diagnoses and provides supervision for psychometrist assessments resulting in diagnoses, in accordance with the College of Psychologists of Ontario regulations and guidelines and undersigns reports as necessary.
Speech Language Pathology Services
Students experiencing difficulties with communication may benefit from the services of our Speech Language team which includes Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) and Communicative Disorders Assistants (CDA). Examples of communication difficulties could include:
- Articulation: pronouncing sounds correctly (eg. ‘tup’ for ‘cup’; ‘wion’ for ‘lion’, etc)
- Stuttering: repeating parts of words or prolonging sounds which interrupts the natural rhythm and flow of speech (eg “Here’s my p-p-p-paper”; “She llllllllikes dogs”)
- Voice: sounds hoarse, sounds stuffed up or too nasal, pitch is too high/low for their age/gender.
Oral Language Difficulties:
- weaknesses in vocabulary,
- difficulty with language comprehension (eg. following directions, answering WH-questions, etc)
- difficulty speaking in complete sentences with correct grammar (eg. verb tenses, pronouns, etc),
- difficulty clearly expressing their ideas and thoughts,
- difficulty using language appropriately in social situations (eg. interrupting, respecting the turn-taking of conversation, staying on topic, etc)
- An assessment is completed by the Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)
- Direct individual or group therapy may be offered. Therapy is typically implemented by a Communicative Disorders Assistant with the programming of the supervising SLP.
- Consultation with caregivers, teachers and other school personnel as well as outside agencies when appropriate (eg. physiotherapists, occupational therapists, etc)
- Workshops and staff training
- Home programming so that caregivers can support the development of ongoing communication goals at home.
- With the caregiver’s consent, a Speech-Language Screening is completed with every kindergarten student.
How to refer
If there are communication concerns, the student is discussed at a school support team meeting. If a referral is appropriate, the Resource Teacher will send a referral package to the caregiver that includes a consent form and questionnaire. Once returned, the student is placed on a waiting list for an assessment. Please be patient. We will do our best to see the student as quickly as possible. Once the assessment has been completed, a report will be sent to the student’s caregiver(s) and school. If therapy is needed, the student will be included in the next available therapy block. Written progress reports will be provided on a regular basis to keep caregivers/teachers updated.
Note: Early intervention is the focus of our Speech-Language Pathology services. Therefore, students in kindergarten through grade 3 will be prioritized. However, services are provided to our older students on a case-by-case basis.
The Speech Language Team consists of four Speech Language Pathologists and eight Communicative Disorders Assistants. They are accessed through a referral process.
The NNDSB employs Itinerant Specialist Teachers to support at risk and visually impaired students. Their roles include:
Conduct Functional Vision Assessments
- Test of Visual-Motor Integration (TVMI)
- Test of Visual Analysis Skills (TVAS)
- Visual Efficiency Scale (VES)
- Lea Symbols/Tumbling “E” for Near and Distance Acuities
- In-class observations
- Recommendations for Educational Programming and Collaborate on the development of IEP
Teaching of the Expanded Core Curriculum (Resource Withdrawal or Integrated Setting)
- Compensatory or Functional Academic Skills and Communication Modes
- Orientation and Mobility
- Social Interaction Skills
- Recreation and Leisure Skills
- Career Education
- Visual Efficiency Skills
Pre-School Transition Planning
- In cooperation with Family Resource Center; One Kids Place; CNIB; Infant Development Program, W. Ross McDonald Resource Services
- "At Risk" Screening
- Low Vision
- Visually Impaired (Large Print)
- Visually Impaired (Braille)
- Blind (Braille)
- Multiple Exceptionalities (Sensory)
See our ongoing initiatives in Special Education below.
Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) is the non-punitive, non-adversarial, trauma-informed model for supporting students with challenging behaviour that the Near North District School Board uses. It is based on the work of Dr. Ross Greene and described in his various books, including The Explosive Child, Lost at School, Lost & Found, and Raising Human Beings. The following are the Guiding Principles for Supporting Students with Challenging Behaviours that the NNDSB has developed, based on Dr. Greene’s evidence-based approach:
SUPPORTING STUDENTS WITH CHALLENGING BEHAVIOURS
- All students do well if they can.
- Challenging children are challenging when the demands or expectations being placed upon them exceed the skills they have to respond adaptively.
- Behaviour is an indicator of lagging skills and unsolved problems.
- Discipline approach is focussed on solving problems.
- Problems are prioritized.
- Problem-Solving is collaborative and pro-active.
- Problem-Solving involves the student.
- Concerns of students and staff are voiced and clarified.
- Solutions are focussed on the child.
- Solutions are mutually agreed to by staff and student.
For more information see: Lives in the Balance
Policy/Program Memorandum No. 140 is a Ministry of Education Memorandum that establishes a policy framework to support incorporation of ABA methods into school boards' practices throughout Ontario. The use of ABA instructional approaches may also be effective for students with other special education needs.
Applied behaviour analysis (ABA) uses methods based on scientific principles of learning and behaviour to build useful repertoires of behaviour and reduce problematic ones. In this approach, the behaviour(s) to be changed are clearly defined and recorded. The antecedents of the undesirable behaviour(s) are analysed, as are the reinforcers that might be maintaining the undesirable behaviour(s) or that might be used to help develop adaptive behaviours.
Interventions based on behavioural principles are designed to develop appropriate behaviours. Progress is assessed and the program is altered if necessary (adapted from Perry and Condillac 2003). ABA can be used with students of every age. It can be applied in a variety of situations, and it can be used for very limited and specific purposes, such as the development or reduction of single behaviours. ABA can also be used for broader purposes, such as the development or reduction of sets of behaviour (for example, to improve relaxation skills, to teach more effective social skills, or to enhance community living skills). ABA can be used for students with ASD, and it can be used for students who have varying degrees of intensity of ASD along a learning continuum.
ABA methods can support students with ASD in a number of ways. For example, ABA methods can help a student to:
- develop positive behaviours (e.g., improve the ability to stay on task, improve social interaction);
- learn new skills (e.g., comprehensive skills, including language skills, social skills, motor skills, academic skills);
- transfer a positive behaviour or response from one situation to another (e.g., from completing assignments in a special education class to maintaining the same performance in a regular class).
ABA methods can also be used to limit the conditions under which problematic behaviours occur – for example, to modify the learning environment so that students are less likely to injure themselves.
The Near North District School Board proudly supports Coordinated Service Planning in the districts of Muskoka, Nipissing and Parry Sound. To learn more about Coordinated Service Planning in our area and to see if it’s right for your family, please visit the Coordinated Service Planning website for Muskoka, Nipissing and Parry Sound found here: www.cspmuskokanipissingparrysound.ca
Superintendant of Special Education
Phone: (705) 472-8170 ext.7031
Principal of Special Education
Phone: (705) 472-8170 ext.5064
Special Education Coordinator (North)
Phone: (705) 472-8170 ext.5017
Special Education Coordinator (East-West)
Phone: (705) 472-8170 ext.6000