Saturday, March 28, 2009

San Diego learning center launches school for children with learning disabilities

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

ENCINITAS, Calif. — The Encinitas Learning Center for children grappling with attention deficit disorder, auditory processing, autism, dyslexia and other learning challenges is launching a state-certified school.

The school, privately run but supported by public tax dollars, will serve students in second through eighth grades with mild-to-moderate special-education needs.

“Our goal is to fix the students' perceptual deficits and then bring them up to grade level or above, so they can return to mainstream educational programs as independent learners,” said Lynda Detweiler, founder and co-director of the Encinitas Learning Center.

The school will provide small-group classes based on California State education standards and use a variety of special-education learning programs.

The school is free to qualifying students.

“It may take one or two years of intense educational support to close the gaps . . . (but) we expect the results for our students to be life-changing,” Detweiler said.

The Encinitas Learning Center has served about 3,000 special-education students since it opened as a non-public agency in 1997. Public school districts sometimes contract with state-certified non-public agencies and schools that provide special-education services when an appropriate public education program isn't available.

In addition to small-group instruction, the center also offers academic tutoring and a variety of specialized learning programs. Among them is the Lindamood-Bell reading program, which prompts students to focus on imagery associated with words and sentences. Another program the learning center uses is Cogmed Working Memory Training, a software-based program designed to help people improve their concentration.

An open house is scheduled for April 26.

Enrollment for the spring trimester began March 2, and enrollment for a six-week summer program is scheduled to begin June 15.

The school will offer speech and occupational therapy, interactive computer activities daily and other special-education services that are outlined in a students' individualized plan.

“Sessions are geared to students who need to quickly build the skills critical to language and reading – two of the most foundational skills for academic success,” said Steve Baime, chief administrator for the learning center.