Which school is right for my child with SMA?

Children with disability can choose to go to a specialist, public or private school, depending on their needs. In some states, children can spend part of the week at a public specialist school and the rest at a mainstream school. Home-schooling or distance education may also be an option for some children.

Most school students with disability
go to a mainstream school1

School students with severe or profound disability are more likely to go to a specialist school.1

Tips for choosing a school for a child with SMA2

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Plan at least a year or more in advance

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Make an appointment with the school principal

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Attend school open days

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Speak to other parents

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Ask questions, including

  • What is the size of the school?
  • What are the number and size of classes?
  • Does the school have any previous experience with children with disabilities?
  • Will your child physically have access to all school facilities?
  • What support programs are available for your child?
  • Who would manage my child’s medical or personal care needs?

Strategies for transitioning to secondary school3

Children with SMA will most likely need extra support when transitioning to secondary school. Strategies include:

Creating a transition plan
A transition plan is a tool developed by you and the primary school for sharing information about your child’s abilities, condition, current medical needs and other needs with secondary school staff.

Establishing a student support group (SSG)
An SSG is a partnership between you and the school staff, which may also include therapists or medical professionals. An SSG develops an individual learning plan for your child, which outlines learning goals for your child and explains how the school will help your child achieve them.

The NDIS may fund reasonable and necessary supports that enable your child to go to school, such as:4, 5

  • support for self-care at school, like eating
  • transport to help your child go to school
  • equipment or technology, such as a wheelchair
  • support for the move from primary school to secondary school
References
  1. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. People with Disability in Australia. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/dis/73-1/people-with-disability-in-australia/education-and-skills/engagement-in-education/school-primary-and-secondary. Accessed: April 2020.
  2. Better Health Channel. Disability – schooling choices. https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/HealthyLiving/starting-school-for-children-with-disabilities. Accessed: April 2020.
  3. Raising Children Network. Starting secondary school: children with disabilities or chronic conditions. https://raisingchildren.net.au/disability/school-play-work/school/starting-secondary-school-children-with-disability. Accessed: April 2020.
  4. NDIS. Education. https://www.ndis.gov.au/understanding/ndis-and-other-government-services/education. Accessed: April 2020.
  5. Raising Children Network. Education rights for children with disabilities. https://raisingchildren.net.au/disability/disability-rights-the-law/rights/education-rights-disability. Accessed: April 2020.