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Last updated: September 14, 2021 • Education Advice

Top Special Needs Schools

Special needs have become an unavoidable subject in this country. Almost 15% of the American population is composed of special needs people. Almost 8% of them are special needs children and teenagers from 1 to 17 years old.

If we want to set a better future for the next generation, a lot of work needs to be done. More and more, real estate agents specialized in homes for the disabled are stepping up to make sure families move to safer homes and have specialized treatment to deal with their specific needs. And now, to fill another gap – education – our team at is here to show you some of the top special needs schools in the country, so parents of special needs children can have the best tools and support on the upbringing of their kids.

But before going to the top special needs schools, we feel it’s important to define what is special needs education exactly and discuss the importance of special education.

What is special needs education?

special needs education

Special needs education can be defined as the set of educational methods and facilities specially designed to attend students with special educational needs (SEN), that is – students with difficulties and disabilities that make it harder for them to absorb information and learn from it.

In the United States, ever since the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in 1975, every student is entitled to special needs education if necessary. What that means is that all public schools must be equipped with the right tools, methods, and approaches to teach every student, regardless of their individual difficulty and disability. There’s a broad spectrum here; ranging from attention deficit disorder to visually impaired persons, children on the autism spectrum and more. 

That individual attention/special needs education is provided by Public Schools at no additional cost and can include individualized/modified instruction within the classroom, at home, hospitals and medical institutions and other environments.

While the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1975 was a great step forward, (which has been amended from time to time to catch up with the ever-changing scenario and urgency of the issue), there is still a lot of catching up to do when it comes to governmental aid for our special needs children and people trying to provide good parenting for them. 

To try and make things faster and provide an alternative to people that can afford it, several private schools were created – some even before IDEA was approved – to tackle (sometimes exclusively) special needs education through custom-made programs and accessible campuses that could provide students the best special needs education possible. 

So, of course that, with a dedicated education like this one, our top special needs schools list will be almost exclusively made of private schools. However, there’s a point to be made about public schools on this matter:

The importance of special education

special needs school bus to the top schools for children with disabilities

Special needs children can feel singled out as it is. He or She has difficulties that the majority of his/her friends don’t have. While private schools dedicated to special education have a great benefit of children not feeling alone, bonding with others that experience similar struggles and share the same concerns, it can be argued that the coexistence with non-special needs children provided by public schools can be important not only for special needs children’s growth but also to non-special needs kids, as one of the main problems with this issue is exactly rooted in ignorance and prejudice towards disabilities.

Anyways, the importance of special education in the sense that no children, regardless of their condition, should be left behind, that all children deserve our best efforts when it comes to raising them into educated adults, it’s a no-brainer of a concept. Not “important” but vital. Our society will reach its maximum potential the day it stops fearing the different and starts embracing it and assimilating it until it is no longer so.

Ok, with that out of the way, let’s go to the meat and bones of this article. The top special needs schools in the USA!

Best school districts for special education

For those with special needs children, one of the foremost concerns when buying a home is education. Are schools in the area open to special needs children? Do they have measures in place to ensure that special needs children will be accommodated and taught with the same measure of care shown to other students? 

To help you in this quest, we’ve put together a list of our picks for top special needs schools in the country. These districts all feature well designed, well equipped and well staffed schools where your special needs child will be welcome and well cared for. Let’s get started!

Kennedy Krieger School

Baltimore Real Estate Agents are really comfortable when the subject is special needs education because they have a sound pitch to convince parents of special needs children to move to Maryland: Baltimore is one of the best places to live in the US with special needs children and one of the reasons is the amount of top special needs schools they have.

Kennedy Krieger School is such a great school it even receives foreign students that come to enjoy their amazing education. Their program covers autism, learning disabilities, orthopedic disabilities speech/language disorders, intellectual disabilities, traumatic brain injury, and multiple disabilities. Their services are focused on providing the tools to develop academic, social, emotional and behavioral skills via individual education plans. Kennedy Krieger School is such a reference as an institution that, aside from teaching kids, they also train professors and offer consultations services to school districts and other private schools on how to deal with its student’s unique needs.

Little Keswick School

notebook with glasses for special education

Little Keswick School is a giant when it comes to special needs education. Founded more than 55 years ago, this is the top special needs school in Virginia and one in the best of the country. Little Keswick is a “boys only” special needs boarding school that has nothing little besides the name. Its campus is about 25 acres at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which makes for a great and peaceful environment for its students to develop their education.

Serving grades 4th through 12th, boys from 9 to 18 years old (9-15 at time of admission), their classes have an average of 6 students, so it’s a very hands-on approach. The fact that Little Keswick is a boarding school does not mean that families just drop their kids there and that’s it. They are an integral part to the success of the school’s program with services like family therapy and a lot of integration with the family. 2 hours away from Washington DC, the school serves about 12 states, and, in case you’d like to try it out first, they do offer summer programs.

May Center Schools

For more than 60 years, the May Institute has been one of the largest providers of private schools specifically serving people on the autism spectrum disorder in America. They currently have 4 special needs schools; three in Massachusetts and one in California.

Understanding that a lot of people are still new to the idea of a special needs education, betting that students in need of that unique experience might not be “kids” anymore, the May Center Schools enroll people from 2 up to 22 years old. They offer full day year-round educational services.

The May Institute is also behind the May Center School for Brain Injury and Neurobehavioral Disorders, which focus on students with complex needs regarding seizures, mood and intellectual cognitive disorders.

T.C. Harris School

T.C. Harris School is one example of a local school district funded special needs school that is awesome. So awesome it was chosen for the NASET School of Excellence Award.

Located in Lafayette, Indiana, the T.C. Harris School is a great example of societal efforts to make things right. It’s a very recent school compared with the previously cited – it was established in 2000! And yet, this top special needs school that serves students from 6 to 21 years old with intellectual, behavioral, emotional, speech and neurological disabilities is there setting the bar for the rest of the country of how to – like their motto says – teach skills to last a lifetime.

Spectrum 360

special needs drawing

Spectrum 360 is one of the most modern special needs educational programs available. But when it comes to things so sensitive like disabilities and disorders, you sort of need to go with time-tested proven things, right? Well, no problem, because Spectrum 360 is just the rebranding of the traditional Verona, New Jersey’s “Children’s Institute”.

This traditional special needs school went above and beyond developing award-winning programs – they have two coveted Lela Rowland Awards under their belt – that called for a total rebrand, thus it was born the Spectrum 360, offering programs like Academy 360, Independence 360 and even Film Academy 360 and Culinary Academy 360. Spectrum 360 is some next level thing.

Here’s the link for our Verona Real Estate Agents because I know you are super excited about the possibilities with Spectrum 360.

The Monarch School

Located in Houston, Texas, the Monarch School has the absurdly awesome ratio of 1 student to 2.5 faculty member. How about that? For that alone it should be one of the top special needs school, right?

But it doesn’t stop there. Monarch School has won the NAPSEC Leadership and Innovation Award in 2012. Tuition can cost from $16,000 to $50,000.
If you’re interested in purchasing a home in this special needs-friendly locale, why not contact one of the top real estate agents in Houston? These experienced real estate agents will help you and your family find the home that’s right for you, taking things like education and community into account. There’s no one better to help you than them!


As you can see, there are great special needs schools in each part of the country, and it’s up to you to see which is closest to you and provides the best service for your children’s unique needs. We cannot recommend enough that you make as many visits as you can to those institutions together with your child. You need to get a feel for how he or she will deal with it and nothing beats being there in person to witness it. Good luck!

Did you find our article helpful? Want to leave some feedback regarding schools we could add to this list? Want more information? Whatever your query, leave us a comment down below, and we’ll do our best to address your concerns or input. Thanks for reading!


2 Responses to " Top Special Needs Schools "

  1. Barbara Reno Stewart says:

    Terrific article; thank you. Our adult son and family will locate to Northern Virginia. Their 7-year old son needs special education and their 4 1/2 year old needs a good public kindergarten. Do you perhaps have any knowledge of Reston, Herndon or Vienna with these thoughts in mind?

  2. Michele says:

    Looking for a good junior high and high school for moderate autism in orange county closer to La Habra, Brea, Anaheim, and La Mirada.

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