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Old 03-25-2007, 08:43 AM   #1
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Orlando Area: Special Needs education ?

We are the parents of 9 yr old girl with an IEP and 13 yr old son in gifted program, and are considering a move closer to the Magic. A quick peek at local county school websites reveals Florida jargon calls any type of special ed "exceptional education"....we currently live in VA, have a fairly good grasp of the ins/outs of both kids education path here, but our hearts tell us we will be happier in/around Orlando FL. We are considering a move now while we are, relatively speaking here , young. This would also allow us to fulfill our retirement dreams of becoming cast members ( I want to run a food cart or work in a kitchen!) but enough about my inner child .

Does anyone out there have any experience with Orlando/surrounding counties "exceptional student" programs?

We are considering this the #1 factor, housing location to follow where the education/community for special needs leads us.

PS If there is a better place for this thread, let me know
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Old 03-25-2007, 09:37 AM   #2
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This website might help you:
It is an organization based in Minnesota, but it is a national resource for Special Education. If you go past the main page, there are lots of links to things in other states.

I'm going to move this thread to our disABILITIES Community Board, where people discuss non-Disney related things.
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Old 03-26-2007, 02:10 AM   #3
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We moved to Florida almost three years ago. My older son is an 'exceptional student', and is diagnosed with a bunch of issues, notably Asperger's syndrome.

We're in Hillsborough, but I encountered the special education coordinators in Lake and Polk Counties. I have their names and phone numbers around here somewhere, but you can google the counties and schools and get the links to the websites.

Our big mistake was not realizing that Aspergers and Autism are not recognized the same in Florida. Asperger's children fit much better under the neurologically impaired umbrella. Lesson learned.

We have a representative from the county at our IEP meeting each year, and let me tell you, she really advocates for my son. One of the teachers presenting her findings talked of Neil's intelligence and she wanted to add "talented and gifted" to his IEP. No, my son will never make it into a TAG program, but it does help his teachers in creating his curriculum.

Our whole family is happy we moved to Florida. Yes, the education system is NOT the best, but if you're familiar with the ins and outs of the special ed maze, you'll probably get the most out of your child's educational experience.

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Old 03-28-2007, 12:01 PM   #4
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Poohnatic, do you know if WDW works with any local school district transition dept.?
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Old 03-30-2007, 12:39 AM   #5
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I grew up in Lake County about 20 minutes away from the mouse. This is one school district I do not recomend for special needs students. I was considered a special needs student. I know it was a long time ago but my shrink agrees the county has not improved the way they take care of the special needs kids.

The gifted program completely sucks in this county as well. I qualified for parts of that as well. Not that they were really willing to mess with me since I had other issues. A huge problem special needs kids constantly face. Lets not even get me started on this issue alone.

They do have a magnet school here in Clermont but the wait list is so long and natives or older families are favored at picking time. Meaning that if you were a graduate of the old high school your kid will get in before a transplant does. Sad and sick but true. Not that they are accepting new apps outside of kindy. It sucks and the county is too cheap to produce more magnet schools for the honor kids.

Winter Park (not garden or haven) has a special needs private school if you can afford the tuition or get a scholarship. Most of us can not.
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Old 03-30-2007, 04:50 PM   #6
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I'm in Hillsborough County, and I have 2 daughters in the gifted program, and the older one has a 504 plan. I used to be on the state's ESE committee for PTA, a couple of years ago, before I went back to school myself.

In my experience, if your child is in gifted classes where you are, just bring copies of his entry into gifted education, including the initial evaluation scores, and he should be staffed right into the program. If that isn't accepted by the school district, then I highly recommend getting independent testing to have him staffed in - it will be the best money you can spend! Here in Hillsborough, the wait for a school psychologist to evaluate a child for ANY type of exceptional program is well over a whole school year. My eldest was put on the list to be tested in kindergarden, and they got around to her right before second grade - a full year AFTER she had been staffed into the program following independent testing!

One thing to ask about when researching the exceptional education is the FUSE model. This involves co-teaching in the classroom for the gifted teachers (and sometimes the other exceptions as well). I have mixed feelings about it - sometimes pull-outs can be better, but then they miss out on some class activities.

With the 504 plan, I had no problems whatsoever with the guidance counselor setting up a meeting with everybody involved. It has worked like a dream, with all the teachers in the school (PE, Music, Art, etc.) being involved and meeting her accomodations. I have to say, though, that this was at her elementary school. I'm not seeing the same level of cooperation now that she is in middle school.

One difference that I've noted in talking with other parents through PTA and in the OT waiting rooms is that there is a HUGE difference from one school to another. My girls are in magnet schools, specifically the elementary school for the arts, and the IB middle school. This seems to be a determining factor in getting cooperation, some neighborhood schools aren't as accomodating, for some reason. I don't know why this is, though, but it might be something to consider.

Hope this helps!
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Old 03-30-2007, 05:00 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by leanan View Post
They do have a magnet school here in Clermont but the wait list is so long and natives or older families are favored at picking time.
There was a big article in that paper about that school last week, and it wasn't flattering.

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