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Schools meet special needs, offer motivation

SPECIAL NEEDS: There are some children in public and private schools who need special attention. Physical, mental and learning disabilities sometimes require that students get extra care from teachers who are trained in handling students with specific needs.

The school district offers programs for students who are autistic; educable, trainable and profoundly mentally handicapped; emotionally handicapped or severely disturbed; hearing or visually impaired; and specific learning-disabled or speech- and language-impaired.

In public schools, it has become more commonplace for students with special needs to remain in their regular classrooms and have an exceptional education teacher come to the classes. However, there are some classes that are held separately.

If you think your child has a learning or developmental impairment, contact the Florida Diagnostic Learning Resources System for a free screening (462-9688). The agency also provides a reference library support groups and services available for parents of children with special needs.

There are five public schools that exclusively cater to children with special needs. They are Calvin Hunsinger School and Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Center in Clearwater, Hamilton Disston School in Gulfport and Nina Harris Exceptional Student Education Center and Richard L. Sanders School in Pinellas Park.

Review the lists of public and private schools to find out the special services they offer.

CHALLENGE and DISCOVERY SCHOOLS: These schools cater to students who lack the motivation to succeed in mainstream systems. Teachers can give students more attention, either individually or in a small group. Pupils concentrate on basic skills and personal responsibility to improve achievement.

Enrollment is limited to 180 at each challenge school and 420 at each discovery school.

Robinson Challenge in Clearwater and St. Petersburg Challenge serve fourth- and fifth-graders. Clearwater Discovery and Lealman Discovery serve sixth- through ninth-graders. The district provides transportation.