Special Needs & Learning Differences

Please note: We have tried to organize this material in a way that will make it easier for you to find what you are looking for. For this reason we have adopted common labels, even while we may question the usefulness, helpfulness or accuracy of some of them.

"Labeling is disabling" because children believe what we tell them. If we must label something, let it be the learning environment, not the learner: instead of "hyperactive child", let's concern ourselves with "activity-restrictive" schools; instead of an "attention-deficient" student, we ought to worry about "inspiration-deficient" classrooms;...

-- quoted from "Learning Disability": A Rose by Another Name by Jan Hunt

E-lists, message boards, online forums are indicated in bold among the other resources in the following categories:

Sometimes it's the parent who has special needs that can make homeschooling more challenging.

Multiple types of resources


Autism and Asperger

ABA Parents
A Yahoo! Group e-list for parents who are implementing an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) approach in educating their children on the Autistic Spectrum.

This email list is a collection of families who are homeschooling their autistic spectrum children full-time or part-time.

Autism Spectrum Disorders - Canadian-American Research Consortium (ASD-CARC)
60 researchers, clinicians, and parents from Canada and the US. One outcome of the research will be a national database in Canada. The researchers welcome the participation of homeschoolers in their studies. If you have an autistic child and are interested in finding out more about this research, visit the website or contact the Project Coordinator:
Helen Coo, Project Coordinator
National Epidemiologic Database for the Study of Autism in Canada (NEDSAC)
Ongwanada Resource Centre
191 Portsmouth Avenue, Kingston, ON, K7M 8A6, Canada
email: cooh@post.queensu.ca
Tel: (613) 548-4417, ext. 1153
Fax: (613) 548-8135

Curriculum suggestions:

  • ABLLS-Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills, by James W. Partington PhD. and Mark L. Sundberg, PhD.
  • Behavioral Intervention for Young Children with Autism, by Catherine Maurice, Gina Green and Stephen Luce
  • A work in Progress, by Ron Leaf and John McEachin
  • Teaching Individuals With Developmental Delays, by O. Ivar Lovaas

A Yahoo! Health Group e-list where parents and professionals running home (and school) programs can discuss concerns and share their knowledge of Applied Verbal Behavior (AVB), which is a specialty within the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Other issues relating to autism will not be addressed on this list.

Grocery Pecs
Downloadable zip file of over 2000 realistic pictures from which to create visual aids. Designed to improve the shopping experience of families with children with communication difficulties (e.g. autism). Website includes simple directions for making visual grocery lists, flash cards, recipe cards, etc., from the pictures.

Homeschooling Children Who "Aut" to Be Home
Tammy Glaser shares her thoughts on homeschooling an autistic child: why homeschool, how to get started, socialization, and getting support. There are links to websites of other homeschoolers with autistic children.

Homeschooling on the spectrum: Autism, aspergers, PDD
"This is a support group for home educators who have children on the spectrum. It is not a place to post ads or services, unless you are responding to a specific request from a parent. Please note this is an international group."

Neurodiverse Ontario Homeschoolers
"We are homeschool families in Ontario who support neurodiversity, accept our children as they are and practice gentle parenting."

Sites For Teachers
There are 15 pages of websites with free worksheets, printables, resources, unit studies, etc. It is geared to teachers of individuals with autistic spectrum disorders, related developmental disabilities, and children with special needs.

- special learning needs menu - top -

Blind, visually impaired, visually challenged

National Braille Press
The National Braille Press sells "Just Enough to Know Better," a primer for parents who want to learn enough Braille to help their blind children. They also have a collection of children's books in electronic Braille that can be embossed on a Braille embosser or read on an electronic Braille note taker. For very young children or for blind parents, NBP's children's Braille book of the month club offers a new book each month with print and Braille on facing pages.

One is Fun: Guidelines for Better Braille Literacy.Troughton, M.(1992)
Brantford, Ontario.
ISBN 0-9697308-0-2
This is a popular book that is a teaching guide for introducing Braille to children. You can see the book online here: http://snow.idrc.ocad.ca/node/150

Seedlings Braille Books
Seedlings Braille Books sells Braille children's books at reasonable prices.

The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
The American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults has a free Braille lending library of children's books that welcomes Canadian borrowers. The Action Fund also operates a book club that gives blind children copies of popular books that the children can keep.

The Braille Book Store
The Braille Book Store is a Canadian company and has over a thousand books in Braille available for all ages and interests. They have books for children, youth and adults. They also have audio books available.

The Canadian Federation of the Blind
This website has information that is valuable and has back issues of the "Blind Canadian," especially the articles dealing with Braille and with the education of blind students.

The Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB)
The Canadian National Institute for the Blind offers Braille courses and general information about Braille. For course information, please call 1-800-563-2642.

The National Federation of the Blind
The National Federation of the Blind has a highly recommend magazine called “Future Reflections.” They are located in the US. However, information there is general enough to apply to any home schooled students and their parents. You can find back issues of the magazine on their website. Families can also subscribe to the print edition. The National Federation of the Blind sells a number of books on the education of blind children. Contact the Materials Center to order. The on-line order form is U.S. specific, but Canadians can place orders by phoning (410) 659-9314 and following the prompts to the Materials Centre.

The Ontario Government website
This is a link to the brochure with contact numbers for services and intervention programs offered by the Ontario Government for the visually impaired and visually challenged/blind children.

The W. Ross Macdonald School
350 Brant Avenue, Brantford, Ontario
Telephone: (519)759-0730
The W. Ross Macdonald School is available to help locate resources for special programs and explore alternative methods of providing the materials needed for blind pupils. They also have information for requests for braille, large-print, and audiotape materials.

- special learning needs menu - top -

Deaf, hearing impaired, hard of hearing

Homeschooling Deaf and HoH Children -- e-list
"The focus of the list is on the particular challenges of homeschooling deaf and hard-of-hearing children, including IEP's, legal issues, and obtaining special ed services, as well as exploration of alternative educational approaches, presentation, and learning styles. All homeschool approaches are supported (from "school-at-home" to unschooling.)"

Developmental disabilities

Intelligent Training Solutions
Mike Glavic, CUO
6381 Glengate Street
Niagara Falls, ON
Home: (905)357-7210
Cell: (905)348-4774
E-mail: itsol@cogeco.ca
Canadian home distributor-reseller and service facilitator of the Discrete Trial Trainer, an ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) based software solution for early and special-needs learners under the developmental age of 9. "I would be only too happy to do a demonstration for those interested in learning more about the D. T. Trainer, or give it free, for thirty days to try, for those interested in researching it that way. More information on this exceptional educational product resource can be found at www.dttrainer.com."

Down Syndrome

Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome
This is a 51 page online book called Homeschooling Children with Down Syndrome by Amy Dunaway.

This site has curriculum levels from Preschool to 8th Grade and is ideal for students who need to proceed at a slower pace. Students may work at any grade level appropriate for them and can be placed in different grade levels for each subject. www.time4learning.com/teaching_your_down_syndrome_child.shtml

- special learning needs menu - top -

Gifted, Talented

The Association for Bright Children of Ontario is an all-volunteer, provincially incorporated support and advocacy group with many chapters across Ontario. It is dedicated to providing information and support to parents of bright and gifted children and adolescents through newsletters, networking, and annual conference and local workshops. They also have a free membership to register for their newsletter, upcoming events, and other information.

- special learning needs menu - top -

LD: learning differences, learning difficulties, learning disabilities, dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia

The National Association of School Psychologists states, "ADD/ADHD has come to act like a set of blinders...The many other potential sources of inattention are often times bypassed and not even considered."

Darwin the Dragon Reading Program (and Vowel First Method, its equivalent for adult learners) is a method of teaching the basic skills of reading to students with learning problems, including dyslexia. A highlight of the Program is that it was designed to be presented by people who lack a background in teaching - e.g. parents in particular. To accommodate this feature, the Guide contains clear teaching instructions, detailed lesson plans as well as specific tutor-training instructions and exercises. The Program consists of a guide plus workbook, and three illustrated storybooks.

Audiblox: Resources for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia and Dyspraxia
Audiblox is a system of cognitive exercises, aimed at the development of foundational learning skills. The website includes many interesting articles about learning, not just about learning difficulties.

Born To Explore! The Other Side of ADD
Articles that challenge the ADD label. Also has recommended books and discussion board. "There are many causes of inattention, fidgeting, impulsivity and lack of focus, the traits that define attention deficit disorder (ADD/ADHD). Doctors don't have the time or the training to look for these causes, so you will have to do it yourself."

Edublox Online Tutor offers multisensory brain-training programs designed to strengthen weak underlying cognitive skills, leading to increased performance in reading, spelling, writing, math and learning. Programs are effective for a variety of learning difficulties including dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and ADHD.

International Dyslexia Association Ontario branch
Provides information, support and resources for parents of dyslexic children, as well as adults with dyslexia and professionals.

LD Online
Resources, articles, discussion forums, newsletter, calendar, online store of videos and books about learning disabilities.

LD Online's Bulletin Boards
LD Online's message boards include one for Homeschooling Students with Learning Disabilities

LD Resources
Resources, articles and discussion forums for the learning disabilities community. Maintained by Anne and Richard Wanderman.

"Learning Disability": A Rose by Another Name
An article by Jan Hunt on the Natural Child website:
"Labeling is disabling" because children believe what we tell them. If we must label something, let it be the learning environment, not the learner: instead of "hyperactive child", let's concern ourselves with "activity-restrictive" schools; instead of an "attention-deficient" student, we ought to worry about "inspiration-deficient" classrooms;...

Learning Solutions
Oakville, Ontario
Kim Willson-Rymer B.Sc.OT
Certified Davis Dyslexia Correction® Facilitator
905 825-3153

Natural Health and Longevity Resource Center
Symptoms, causes and alternative treatments for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Learning Disabilities (LD)

Software program that uses Orton-Gillingham methods to teach phonics.

- special learning needs menu - top -

Learning styles

This link helps to identify preferred learning styles whether it be for the lookers, listeners, and movers. Have a look at the different approaches you may take when it comes to homeschooling your child/children.

You may also find this link helpful as it provides a closer look at some helpful learning styles such has kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile.

See also our own page on Learning Styles.


Gauche! Lefthanders in Society
The objective of this website is to communicate accurate information and simple coping strategies pertainent to left-handers living in a right-biased society.

Special needs (other or in general)

Special Needs Homeschooling in Ontario
For Ontario homeschooling parents with special needs kids.
For sharing questions, answers, tips, resources, and moral support as you navigate homeschooling in Ontario in ways that are adapted to your child's unique life and learning challenges.
"Special needs" is an umbrella term that encompasses anything from ADD/ADHD, dyslexia, autism, CAPD, Down's Syndrome, and other types of neurodiversity, to physical challenges such as visual impairment, hearing impairment, cerebral palsy, paraplegia, and other sensory or mobility issues.
It should go without saying, but let us remind everyone anyway: this is intended to be a safe space in which we do not judge or disrespect each other, but rather offer and seek information and sharing in a caring, mutually supportive way.
This group has been initiated by the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents (OFTP) but is currently open to any homeschooling parent in Ontario who has any children with special needs.

Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities
This is part of the Ontario Disability Support Program available throught the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Go to E-laws to read the relevant Regulations.

Assistive Devices Program
Financial assistance from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care for certain assistive devices.

Gentle Teaching
Gentle Teaching is a non violent approach to helping people with special needs and sometimes challenging behaviours.

Homeschooling Kids With Disabilities
Links to resources for people who are homeschooling children with special educational needs.

Homeschooling Your Unique Learner in Canada
"This group is open to parents who homeschool or are considering homeschooling their children that have UNIQUE needs, with or without a formal diagnosis. By UNIQUE, we mean those who learn differently than the ‘regular’ child, and who have academic or behavioural struggles.
The primary purpose of this group is to encourage and support Canadian homeschool families. We want to build a community of Canadian Homeschoolers that help and encourage one another on this journey. We hope that this group will be a place where you feel free to share your concerns and struggles, your successes and your accomplishments, but also a place to share curriculum choices and/or therapies that worked for your student - all with the intention of discovering strategies and creative ideas to help your student continue on the road to lifelong learning."

Kaleidoscapes Homeschoolers Message Boards - Special Needs
Once an interactive collection of message boards for homeschoolers, kaleidoscapes.com is now read-only. You can no longer post new messages and now need to do a keyword search to read specific messages from the archives.

Lila Jones - Certified Teacher, Special Education - KW/Guelph/Cambridge
Creates individualized programs for each child’s learning needs in order to help them achieve their academic goals. 10 years experience from K-8 with students with various diagnoses, including Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, ADD/ADHD, Brain Injury, Fragile X, Cerebral Palsy, Type 1 Diabetes, Aspergers Syndrome, Anxiety, Speech and Language needs, etc.
Contact for a consultation and for information on tutoring rates: lilakjones@gmail.com

Sites For Teachers
There are 15 pages of websites with free worksheets, printables, resources, unit studies, etc. It is geared to teachers of individuals with autistic spectrum disorders, related developmental disabilities, and children with special needs.

Special Needs Home Education of Canada yahoogroup
An e-list for Canadian parents who have Special Needs children and are homeschooling them or considering homeschooling them. Open to any educational approach to home-based learning, and any religion, race or creed (--you are asked to please respect each other's lifestyles). Your child does not need to have an "official diagnosis" for you to join. Discussion of issues and concerns, exchange of support and encouragement, possibilities of meeting in person.

The Individual Education Plan (IEP) resource guide
The Ontario Ministry of Education provides this guide for teachers and others working on developing an IEP for children with special needs.

Saving Your Child, Saving Yourself: Navigating Roadblocks in Managing ADHD, Aspergers, and Learning Disabilities handbook by Carol A. McMullen. Mostly geared to helping parents become their child's "case manager" in school settings, but appears to also include advice on learning strategies.

Morneau Shepell’s Children’s Support Solutions - Mississauga, Toronto, Vaughan

For over 15 years, Morneau Shepell's Children's Support Solutions has worked with families, schools and childcare centres to identify and address children's needs, from infants to young adults of all abilities. Services include the following:

  • screening and psychological assessments
  • one to one and group therapy
  • Preschool/JK/SK program
  • day camps
  • tutoring

Morneau Shepell's therapists and educators are trained and certified in a wide range of disciplines, including the following:

  • clinical psychology
  • speech-language pathology
  • physiotherapy
  • occupational therapy
  • behaviour therapy
  • music therapy
  • special education
  • psychoeducation
  • tutoring

Email: childrensupportsolutions@morneaushepell.com
Toll-free Phone: 1-866-653-2397