Montessori for special needs children? — The Bump
Pre-School

Montessori for special needs children?

Anyone have a special needs child who goes to a Montessori school?  Or have any general insight to Montessori in general?

My son has some pretty significant social/emotional delays as well as some sensory issues.  He currently has a blanket autism spectrum dx and attends an integrated preschool which is great.  His preschool staff, including his teacher who runs a camp for children with autism and the psychologist who meets with him individually twice a week, do not believe the autism dx is appropiate for him.  Our challange comes next fall when he starts kindergarden.  He has problems functioning in groups, there is no way he will sit in a class of 26 5 yr olds listening to one teacher recite "A says ahh".  Especially since his is already reading at age 4, from self directed learning.  He tests very well and because of this, there is no way he will qualify for services at the kindergarden level since they are based on academic need.  There is a very big concern from his preschool staff about what will happen to him next year.

I think I am going to look into a Montessori school, PK-6.  I think there will be both advantages and disadvantages for my son in a Montessori program.  One advantage would be very little need to adjust to functioning as part of a large group, but that is also a disadvantage since he will need learn as part of a group when he is older. 

Kindergarden is causing me way too much stress when it is still so far away.

Re: Montessori for special needs children?

  • I would post on the special needs boards since I am not familar with IEPs.  My DS goes to preschool Montessori but it only goes to Kindergarten.  I think it is amazing and can be great for a kid that is self-motivated and there are less groups and more one-on-one time.  That said his school definitely still has some circle time, I am sure some don't but I would assume that most do at least for a few minutes a day.  But, you will be feeding into his personality and like you said he will not learn to overcome his issues.  Also, they are likely not suited to deal with his special needs, how would he get services that might be available in public school?  Just something to consider but like I said, I do not know much about special needs.  My other concern is that many kids have a very hard time transitioning to regular school from Montessori and it is not really recommended to keep them after 2nd or 3rd grade b/c the transition becomes harder.  If you go with Montessori I would ask yourself if you are ready to do private for the long haul.

    But, I LOVE Montessori and wish we had the money to continue, I always used to be 100% for public education and now am totally pro-Montessori.

    Jen - Mom to two December 12 babies Nathaniel 12/12/06 and Addison 12/12/08
  • I agree.  I would definitely post this on the SN's board.  My oldest is very high functioning but on the spectrum b/c of sensory issues. My little girl has mild cerebral palsy, again incredibly high functioning.  From what I can gather being on another SN's board there are a lot of advantages and significant disadvantages when you leave the public schools.  

    If your son is getting services such as speech or ABA therapy from the schools, depending on your states laws if you choose to opt out of the public schools system you could lose those services.  

    The big issue I've personally encountered was when we put Harmon in a "typical" pre-school. He got overly stimulated very easily and just reacted violently.  This was not some cheap program either, it was one of the top programs in our area.  The problem is that the teachers were not equipped to handle his needs: strict scheduling, making sure he wasn't overstimulated/under stimulated, etc.  

    With that said we might be trying private pre-school again b/c the Special Ed dept here in NM is just getting ridiculous and they are eliminating his pre-k program.  If that does happen I'm preparing better.  This time where ever he ends up I've already spoken to directors of the potential schools and we will have an FT work with them and we will be paying for private OT.  I am very concerned though that we will have another repeat of this summer.  We will see if we have to cross that bridge.  

    I don't know where you are from, but where ever you are I recommend you get out there and really talk to each school you are considering.  Be honest and upfront about your child's SN's and what he will need.  Find out if the school really is teaching what you think they will be (in our town there are 3 Montesori programs but only one is good from my understanding).  Figure out if your insurance will cover private ABA, Speech, etc. and see if they school will allow perhaps an FT to help the teacher meet your child's needs.  If you do go the private route make sure he is not missing out on the supplemental therapies the schools offer.

     I hope this helps.  I'm still learning about this stuff myself.  

    Mom to Harmon 1/17/08 and twins Rachel & Callum 8/28/09 Photobucket 29o0v13.jpg
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  • Thanks for the responses.  My biggest problem with kindergarden is that there will be NO SERVICES for him in public school :-(  Once he hits kindergarden level and up, services are solely based on academic need, he has no academic need.  His cognitive tests put him 2-3 yrs ahead academically.  His preschool teacher feels he is going to go to K, have problems from day 1, get suspended, return, repeat 3-4 times.  Then the school will call a meeting and possibly move him to a different school with a SN program and services.  The idea of my son going through that causes me serious anxiety.

    While my son's preschool is wonderful, it is THE place to be for SN kids like him, and we are fortunate that it is in our district, I am quickly losing faith in the district admin.  My son's OT resigned in the middle of Sept and left as of Sept, 29.  In the meantime, my son has recieved absolutely NO OT services even though his EIP mandates 2 private sessions a week.  I understand that OTs are hard to come by and the principal is trying to find a replacement.  But she is required to go through certain procedures befor the job can be posted publically, and it is holding up finding a qualified candidate.  Like first it must be posted district wide for 2 weeks, then it can be posted through some sort of civil service listing for 4 weeks before it can be offered publically.  In the meantime, the kids are suffering.

    The program I would be looking into for him is k-6.  I am completely aware that I would need to keep him there for long haul, then at grade 7 either re-enter public school or send him to another high end private school.  I am not sure exactly how we will swing it financially, but I can make it happen if I need to.  I currently stay at home, it would mean going back to work with the sole purpose of paying for his school.

  • Our neighborhood school is a Monetessori program. DS has pdd-nos. When I started looking for a SN preschool both his private and public therapists warned me to stay away from Montesorri- even the highly rated school just a couple blocks from me. Our neighborhood Montessori school (it's a public charter school) doesn't even have ASD aides available so DS won't be able to attend there in kindy. Their reasoning is that DS needs lots of direction. That's pretty obvious to me. I can't hand him a toy and have him figure it out- I have to explain how it works and what you do with it. From my understanding that's opposite of what Montessori does. I don't mean to be a downer- I know lots and lots of people who LOVE their Montessori schools- they are blessed with outgoing, curious, and bright children. For us, DS needs as much prompts and instruction as possible. Just mho.

  • Federal disability laws and IDEA say that he should get services.  Talk to more people in the school district.  They put in wheel chair ramps, even though that's not an academic need.  It's federally required.  Speech therapy isn't an academic need by those standards, but I'm sure the school district has speech therapy?  Most private schools do not have programs for special needs kids.  You might find a montessori that does.  All schools, public or private, Montessori or whatever are very different in philosophy, implementation, staffing, etc. You're going to have to find one with programs that meet his needs.  His pediatrician might be able to give you some suggestions, if you haven't already asked there.  It sounds like such a big search to find just what is right for him- I am glad you're starting early!  Good luck to you :) 
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  • imagekmhunt11:
    Federal disability laws and IDEA say that he should get services.

    This is the road block we are getting from the district.  It looks like I am going to have a battle ahead of me on this front.  He has a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder, however, he has not be defined to have a specific disorder such as Aspergers or Classic Autism.  He would fall in the PDD-NOS category, however school districts do not give services for PDD-NOS because it isn't defined as a disability, or so I am told.

    This is why I am sort of feeling out all my options right now, researching, looking for back-up plans...

    Thanks for all the responses thus far.

  • imagekmhunt11:
    Federal disability laws and IDEA say that he should get services.

    This is the road block we are getting from the district.  It looks like I am going to have a battle ahead of me on this front.  He has a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder, however, he has not be defined to have a specific disorder such as Aspergers or Classic Autism.  He would fall in the PDD-NOS category, however school districts do not give services for PDD-NOS because it isn't defined as a disability, or so I am told.

    This is why I am sort of feeling out all my options right now, researching, looking for back-up plans...

    Thanks for all the responses thus far.

  • "Especially since his is already reading at age 4, from self directed learning.? He tests very well and because of this, there is no way he will qualify for services at the kindergarden level since they are based on academic need.? " I hate this. These kids have a need that may not be doctly academic YET but not being able to function in a group will certainly affect his ability to excel later in life. As will any other issues that may not keep him from teasing well now but will keep him from holding down the sort of job that a kid that is as clearly bright as your son is could be(so tired, did that sentence even make sense?).


    Ds is PDD NOS and I seriously don't know what we would do if we weren't in California. I didn't realize how blessed we are till I started reading the sn board and saw how hard everyone is fighting for these services that we are able to get. I have been appreciative and taken advantage of the services even before I knew how hard they were to come by but now I really know. Anyhow I wish I had great advice for you. If you post on SN you could put Auntie's name in the title, she is a resident expert of sorts on these matters and is sure to have an opinion on montessori.


    . Sounds like you have a seriously bright and special little guy and that he has a dedicated mommy willing to fight to find the right services for him and to make sure he gets them. It is my opinion that a kid with that is going to make it- it might be hard going but they will get there and that is what counts. Ok I'm sp tried so I hope I made sense.

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  • imageTinyPinkBug:

    imagekmhunt11:
    Federal disability laws and IDEA say that he should get services.

    This is the road block we are getting from the district.  It looks like I am going to have a battle ahead of me on this front.  He has a diagnosed autism spectrum disorder, however, he has not be defined to have a specific disorder such as Aspergers or Classic Autism.  He would fall in the PDD-NOS category, however school districts do not give services for PDD-NOS because it isn't defined as a disability, or so I am told.

    This is why I am sort of feeling out all my options right now, researching, looking for back-up plans...

    Thanks for all the responses thus far.

    You need to educate yourself on the Laws now! He does automatically qualify for services because of the autism diagnosis, it is one of the magical 13. His services are based on educational need, but just because he is reading does not mean there will be a need. Most private schools are not equipped to handle children with any special needs.
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