Central Ohio is home to a number of schools that focus on educating children who have special needs, be they medical, developmental and/or emotional. The schools offer a variety of services ranging from specialized therapies to counseling to music programs.

Central Ohio is home to a number of schools that focus on educating children who have special needs, be they medical, developmental and/or emotional. The schools offer a variety of services ranging from specialized therapies to counseling to music programs.

Columbus Parent contacted local schools, asking them to share details about how they serve their students and their families. These are the schools that responded.

The full-length versions of these profiles follow here, as does a story about the Ohio State School for the Blind's goalball team.

-Compiled and edited by Melissa Kossler Dutton and Jane Hawes

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THE GRAHAM FAMILY OF SCHOOLS

This organization of four tuition-free schools started in 2000 with The Graham School. Its primary mission is to educate urban students who face a variety of challenges, including but not limited to special learning needs. The organization has since expanded to include the Graham Primary School (founded 2012), the Graham Expeditionary Middle School (2010) and The Charles School at Ohio Dominican University (2007). Between 12 and 35 percent of the students in each building have special learning needs.

Graham Primary School, 140 E. 16th Ave. Columbus 43201; Grades served: K-4; K-5 beginning 2015-16; Enrollment: 174; Teacher-to-student ratio: 1:22

Graham Expeditionary Middle School (GEMS), 140 E. 16th Ave., Columbus 43201Grades served: 6-8; Enrollment: 156; Teacher-to-student ratio: 1:23

The Graham School, 3590 Indianola Ave., Columbus 43214; Grades served: 9-12; Enrollment: 264; Teacher-to-student: 1:25

The Charles School at Ohio Dominican University, 1270 Brentnell Ave., Columbus 43219; Grades served: 9-13; Enrollment: 358; Teacher-to-student ratio: 1:25

From information provided by Debbie Addison, director of advancement for The Graham Family of Schools:

What differentiates your schools from others that serve students with special needs? Our schools fully integrate all students into typical classroom settings. Intervention Specialists collaborate with classroom teachers to provide differentiated curriculum and other services as needed.

What role do parents have in setting goals for their children? Parents are important members of goal setting/IEP(individual education plan) teams. We maintain regular communication with the parents of all of our students and have established procedures for parents to maintain regular contact with teachers and intervention specialists.

Do you offer therapies or services to children who attend other schools? No.

How do you incorporate new technologies or emerging research about children with special needs into your curriculum? Our schools are committed to regular professional development within a strongly collaborative culture. We make every effort to keep up with developments in the field including new technologies and emerging research and as a team, regularly consider ways to improve what we are doing in the classroom with each and every student.

.................................................................... HAUGLAND LEARNING CENTER

Founded in 2004, the Haugland Learning Center focuses on serving students with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Haugland has developed its curriculum using behavior-analytic and data-driven principles.

Location: 7690 New Market Center Way, Columbus 43235

Grades served: K-12;

Enrollment: 225;

Teacher-to-Student ratio: 1-6 generally, but also 1:3

Tuition: $20,000; the fee for educational services is covered in its entirety by the Autism Scholarship Program for those students who qualify.

From information provided by Carol Jackson, director of admissions and parent advocacy at the Haugland Learning Center:

Tell us about the students your school serves. Our center-based program serves children in grades K-12. While most of our students are diagnosed on the autism spectrum, our methods work well for all students. We serve both ends of the autism spectrum, as well as in between, but the majority of our students perform close to grade level academically.

What is the focus of your curriculum? Our focus is to help students reach a functional level of academics, if they are significantly behind. If they are close to grade level, our focus is to help students catch up academically and continue to challenge them if they're at or above grade level. We ensure tool skills are mastered so that they can be applied to increasingly difficult academic tasks. In addition, we teach problem-solving skills at every level and encourage students to be active participants in their own learning. We also focus on social skills and preparation for life after school, whether that be employment or higher education.

Do you offer therapies or services to children who attend other schools? Yes.

What differentiates your school from others that serve students with special needs? Onedistinctionis HLC is a chartered, non-public school, not a therapy center. Another important difference is our approach is behavior analytic, a data-driven, research-provenacademic methodology for shaping educational behaviors toward a successful ending. We avoidpunishmentprocedures and focus on a positive environment. We are committed toserving students who have been unsuccessful in more traditional settings.

.................................................................... HELPING HANDS CENTER FOR SPECIAL NEEDS

The Helping Hands Center was founded in 2005 and is a non-profit organization designed specifically to meet the educational and therapeutic needs of students who have autism and other developmental disabilities.

Location: 2500 Medary Ave., Columbus 43202

Grades served: Pre-K/early-intervention through grade 8 – will serve 9th grade in 2015-16;

Enrollment: 125;

Teacher-to-student ratio: 1:1 to1:3

Tuition: Education Center tuition $21,000 - $40,000 annually. Funding sources accepted include: Autism Scholarship, John Peterson Scholarship, Medicaid Waiver's such as IO Waiver, Level 1 Waiver and SELF Waiver, Title XX, some private insurance

From information provided by Helping Hands' co-founders and co-executive directors Abigail S. David and Erin K. Nealy:

What is the focus of your curriculum? Helping Hands Center approaches education from a holistic perspective and utilizes principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, using positive reinforcement to help children learn and be attentive to others; Discrete Trial Instruction, teaching in simplified and structured steps; and, follows the academic content standards set forth by the Ohio Department of Education.

What differentiates your school from others that serve students with special needs? Helping Hands Center is a truly unique learning environment that has a joyful atmosphere where developmental distinctions don't exist. Each student is celebrated as their own special being in an environment that is loving and compassionate.Families are given the support they need during a time that is often confusing and stressful, and children actually look forward to going to school.

Does the school offer therapies or services to children who attend other schools? Yes.How do you incorporate new technologies or emerging research about children with special needs into your curriculum? Helping Hands Center believes all children should have a voice and is a leader in the use of augmentative communication for developing language. Helping Hands Center is a LAMP (Language Acquisition and Motor Planning) certified facility.Every classroom has iPad technology used both as a learning tool and for reinforcement. The center has a board-led Curriculum and Education committee that is currently working to identify and increase technologically-based curriculum as well as provide additional resources - such as SMART Boards - for classrooms.

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OHIO STATE SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND

Established in 1837, the Ohio State School for the Blind was the first public school for the blind in the United States. For nearly two centuries, it has served thousands of students and their families, providing academic, vocational and life-skill educations.

Location: 5220 N. High St., Columbus, 43214

Grades served: K-12, Post-secondary programs. The Ohio State School for the Blind serves students with visual impairments, including those with multiple disabilities, ages 5-22, who currently reside in the state of Ohio.

Enrollment: 103;

Teacher-to-student ratio: 1:8

Tuition: No cost to families or districts, except transportation costs provided by local school district.

From information provided by elementary-level teacher Cecelia Peirano, high-school teacher Karen Koehler and parent mentor Lauri Kaplan:

What specialty services do you offer and who provides them? We offer special programs in music, adapted physical education, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language services, transition planning, orientation and mobility. Braille, technology instruction, and other academic subjects are taught by certified teachers of the visually impaired.

What differentiates your school from others that serve students with special needs? We offer optional residential services for students throughout the week and occasional weekend activities. The residential staff provides a home-like environment which helps students learn independent living skills. In addition, they participate in a wide array of recreational activities in the evenings. Students also have the opportunity to participate in varsity and junior varsity sports in wrestling, cheerleading, track and field, goalball, forensics and swimming. Additional clubs include Girl Scouts and Leo Club. Music is an integral part of the curriculum and students are encouraged to take advantage of a variety of options, such as choral groups, general music classes, instrumental ensembles, marching band, piano, voice and other private lessons. Our world famous marching band has performed around Ohio, in Michigan and Washington. We are the first band composed of individuals with disabilities to perform in the Tournament of Roses Parade and the only high school band to ever perform during halftime with The Ohio State University Marching Band. The OSSB Marching Band was recently chosen to represent Ohio in the 2015 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington D.C.

Does the school offer therapies or services to children who attend other schools? Yes.

What role do parents have in setting goals for their children? Parents are an integral part of the IEP team and participate in setting the goals for their children. Parents also have the opportunity to volunteer with the music program, at sporting events, and in clubs and organizations at OSSB.

How do you incorporate new technologies or emerging research about children with special needs into your curriculum? Students at OSSB use a wide array of standard and adaptive technology to access print, including Braille Notetakers, screen-reading software, screen-enlargement software, digital book readers and tablets with a variety of standard and adaptive applications. The OSSB staff and students participate in educational research projects in conjunction with various universities.

.................................................................... ST. VINCENT FAMILY CENTER THERAPEUTIC PRESCHOOL AND THERAPEUTIC SCHOOL

Founded in 1990, St. Vincent serves children with unique behavioral health needs, as well as helps families develop better support systems.

Location: 1490 E. Main St., Columbus 43205

Grades served: Preschool and kindergarten through age 13

Enrollment: preschool - 77; children ages 6-12 - 108

Teacher to student ratio: preschool - 2:11; children ages 6-12 - 2:9

Tuition: None

From information provided by Shawn Holt, president and CEO of St. Vincent:

Tell us about the students your school serves. Children attend school at our facility while they are receiving treatment for their behavior, emotional and special needs. The children who participate in our Therapeutic School program are ages 6 through 12, and are not succeeding in their traditional schools because of behavioral health challenges. We have trained teachers who are very experienced working with reluctant learners to build the relationship necessary to facilitate academic and social success. We also have well-trained adaptive behavioral specialists in each room who help children manage their emotions and work through challenges of the day. We also have a Therapeutic Preschool that serves children ages 3-5 who have behavioral challenges and are struggle to succeed in a traditional preschool setting.

What differentiates your school from others that serve students with special needs? We recognize that every child is unique and so are the challenges they face. Therefore, each child has an individualized plan that includes a team of academic and behavioral professionals who use wraparound services to meet the child where they are now and a plan for unlocking the key to their success and transitioning the child back into his/her traditional school.

Does the school offer therapies or services to children who attend other schools? Yes.

What role do parents have in setting goals for their children? Parents are the children's first teachers. Children will not be successful without the involvement of their parents or guardians. A strong connection between home and school makes for successful students. Our children's parents are scheduled to meet one time per week at the school with teachers and clinician to facilitate a strong home/school relationship with parents being active participants in helping their child overcome their behavioral and emotional challenges.