These communities have top-notch support and services for little learners and beyond.
By Danielle Braff
There are services for special needs children in every suburb – but some simply offer more than others. If you’re thinking about moving to the Chicago suburbs and you have a child with special needs, you may want to consider these spots, which excel in that arena.
Long Grove, IL
As soon as your child is diagnosed, they will be given a team of specialists to help with every aspect of their behavior and learning. There’s a special needs full-day pre-school that runs year-round, there are special days at the local indoor place spaces and there are special days at the movie theaters. Your child’s teachers and therapists will meet with you in teams to assess your situation on a regular basis. This is an incredibly strong area for Illinois special needs kids. Plus, homes here are large, the area is friendly and it’s got tons of outdoor space to run and play.
Feedback from special needs therapists and parents shows that the educators in this suburb consistently deliver when it comes to special needs services and education. Yes, funding cuts in this area happen, but the school district and personnel aim to exclude the special education programming from the cuts, leaving this area very strong. Many people have been moving specifically to Wheaton for their special education programs in recent years.
Woodstock previously formed its special Education District of McHenry County in 1965 specifically to help students with unique educational needs. It worked with its 11 member districts to help those students with disabilities. They had their own diagnostic center, and they are very organized when it comes to providing funds for various student assistance needs (even including assistive technology). But 4 years ago, due to declining enrollment in SEDOM because the public schools were providing their own services, SEDOM closed its doors. Today, just about all the special ed learning and assistance that takes place within the schools, and they do a fabulous job.
In addition to its two public schools (one K-12 and one high school) offering special needs help, Palatine also has two private schools specifically for special needs students. One of the private schools is for grades 1-12, and the other is for grades 3-12. The city also offers many different programs, from a transitional kindergarten to a therapeutic day school setting to hearing and visual impairment programs. Students who can’t attend school due to a medical condition receive homebound or hospital instruction.
Highland Park, IL
The schools here are consistently ranked on top for their special needs programming: specifically Arbor Academy and North Shore Academy. All the special needs educational programming is organized under the Northern Suburban Education District. The students throughout Highland Park with special needs are grouped according to their educational need rather than their disability, which is key. As much as possible, they are placed with their age-appropriate non-disabled peers. In addition to standard services provided to special children, Highland Park also offers music therapy, adapted physical education, transition planning and more.