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Special Education

Philosophy

The Philosophy of the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board is to meet the needs of all children and to develop the fullness of humanity in a Catholic Community. All students, regardless of special talents or challenging needs can grow and they can grow best by attending their neighbourhood schools, along with their brothers and sisters.

Every child with challenging needs requires a sense of belonging; every child needs reasonable and realistic success and every child requires concern for his or her dignity as a person. The child is not served by sympathy or sentimentality. Exceptional pupils share with their fellow pupils the responsibility to demonstrate acceptable behaviour and to strive for total growth and development.

It is the responsibility of each individual who instructs children to foster growth. No handicap, however severe, no learning deficit, however persistent, should discourage our efforts. No special gift is to be neglected. All human and material resources must be used to meet the needs of the pupil. Provision of programs and services in our schools is governed by principles of inclusion, normalization and personalization.

Students with Special Education Needs Entering School For The First Time

Welcome to school! Starting school for the first time is an exciting time.

This site is used to help parents and caregivers share information about their child with the school board staff. Sharing of information before school entry helps to ensure a smooth transition for students with special education needs entering school for the first time.

To request a link to upload the “Tell Us About Your Child” form, and any other documentation that should be shared with HWCDSB staff, click the request link below.

Once the information in the survey has been received, you will receive a link via email where the ‘Tell Us About Your Child’ form and other documentation can be uploaded.

This portal does not replace student registration. Please visit the school website to learn about how to register your child for school if you have not already done so. Registration must take place prior to arrangement of intake meeting.

Request link to upload ‘Tell Us About Your Child’ form and Other Documentation

On Wednesday, January 19, The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board hosted a virtual information session for parents/guardians of students with special education needs entering school for the first time in September 2022.

The evening included information about the kindergarten program, details about the registration and intake process, and programs and services for students with special education needs.

Click on the video to play the pre-recorded presentation or view the PDF version below.

Special Education

Special Education

For children and adolescents with special needs, please see the following document for a list of resources:
Family Resources for Children and Adolescents with Special Education Needs
*Updated May 31, 2020
Behaviour

Behaviour

A learning disorder characterized by specific behaviour problems over such a period of time, and to such a marked degree, and of such a nature, as to adversely affect educational performance, and that may be accompanied by one or more of the following:

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a) an inability to build or to maintain inter-personal relationships;

b) excessive fears or anxieties;

c) a tendency to compulsive reaction; or

d) an inability to learn that cannot be traced to intellectual, sensory or other health factors, or any combination thereof.


For more information, please visit:
Behaviour Support and Resources
Communication - Autism

Communication - Autism

A severe learning disorder that is characterized by:

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a) disturbances in:
       - rate of educational development;
       - ability to relate to the environment;
       - mobility;
       - perception, speech, and language;

b) lack of the representational-symbolic behaviour that precedes language.


For more information, please visit:
Autism Support and Resources

Ontario Autism Program: Service Navigation Program
Autism Ontario is playing a key role in offering orientation and system navigation supports to families who are accessing or interested in accessing the new Ontario Autism Program (OAP).

Autism Ontario’s OAP Service Navigation Program will help families:
• Understand the Childhood Budget
• Prioritize and set goals for their children up to 18 years of age
• Navigate their local services to access meaningful and effective supports
• Find qualified providers

Learn more at https://www.autismontario.com/programs-ser ... .
Communication - Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Communication - Deaf and Hard of Hearing

An impairment characterized by deficits in language and speech development because of a diminished or non-existent auditory response to sound.

For more information, please visit:
Deaf and Hard of Hearing Support and Resources
Communication - Language Impairment

Communication - Language Impairment

A learning disorder characterized by an impairment in comprehension and/or use of verbal communication or the written or other symbol system of communication, which may be associated with neurological, psychological, physical or sensory factors, and which may:

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a) involve one or more of the form, content and function of language in communication;

b) include one or more of the following:
      - language delay;
      - dysfluency;
      - voice and articulation development, which may or may not be organically or functionally based.


For more information, please visit:
Language Impairment Support and Resources
Communication - Speech Impairment

Communication - Speech Impairment

A disorder in language formulation that may be associated with neurological, psychological, physical or sensory factors; that involves perceptual motor aspects of transmitting oral messages; and that may be characterized by impairment in articulation, rhythm and stress.

For more information, please visit:
Speech Impairment Support and Resources
Communication - Learning Disability

Communication - Learning Disability

One of a number of neurodevelopmental disorders that persistently and significantly has an impact on the ability to learn and use academic and other skills and that:
• affects the ability to perceive or process verbal or non-verbal information in an effective and accurate manner in students who have assessed intellectual abilities that are at least in the average range;
• results in (a) academic underachievement that is inconsistent with the intellectual abilities of the student (which are at least in the average range), and/or (b) academic achievement that can be maintained by the student only with extremely high levels of effort and/or with additional support;
• results in difficulties in the development and use of skills in one or more of the following areas: reading, writing, mathematics, and work habits and learning skills;
• may typically be associated with difficulties in one or more cognitive processes, such as phonological processing; memory and attention; processing speed; perceptual motor processing; visual-spatial processing; executive functions (e.g., self-regulation of behaviour and emotions, planning, organizing of thoughts and activities, prioritizing, decision making);
• may be associated with difficulties in social interaction (e.g., difficulty in understanding social norms or the point of view of others); with various other conditions or disorders, diagnosed or undiagnosed; or with other exceptionalities;
• is not the result of a lack of acuity in hearing and/or vision that has not been corrected; intellectual disabilities; socio-economic factors; cultural differences; lack of proficiency in the language of instruction; lack of motivation or effort; gaps in school attendance or inadequate opportunity to benefit from instruction.
Intellectual - Giftedness

Intellectual - Giftedness

An unusually advanced degree of general intellectual ability that requires differentiated learning experiences of a depth and breadth beyond those normally provided in the regular school program to satisfy the level of educational potential indicated.

For more information, please visit:
Giftedness Support and Resources
Intellectual - Mild Intellectual Disability

Intellectual - Mild Intellectual Disability

A learning disorder characterized by:

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- an ability to profit educationally within a regular class with the aid of considerable curriculum modification and supportive services;

- an inability to profit educationally within a regular class because of slow intellectual development;

- a potential for academic learning, independent social adjustment, and economic self-support.


For more information, please visit:
Mild Intellectual Disability Support and Resources
Intellectual - Developmental Disability

Intellectual - Developmental Disability

A severe learning disorder characterized by:

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- an inability to profit from a Special Education program for students with mild intellectual disabilities because of slow intellectual development;

- an ability to profit from a Special Education program that is designed to accommodate slow intellectual development;

- a limited potential for academic learning, independent social adjustment and economic self-support.


For more information, please visit:
Developmental Disability Support and Resources
Physical - Physical Disability

Physical - Physical Disability

A condition of such severe physical limitation or deficiency as to require special assistance in learning situations to provide the opportunity for educational achievement equivalent to that of pupils without exceptionalities who are of the same age or developmental level.

For more information, please visit:
Physical Disability Support and Resources
Physical - Blind and Low Vision

Physical - Blind and Low Vision

A condition of partial or total impairment of sight or vision that even with correction affects educational performance adversely.

For more information, please visit:
Blind and Low Vision Support and Resources
Multiple Exceptionalities

Multiple Exceptionalities

A combination of learning or other disorders, impairments or physical disabilities, that is of such nature as to require, for educational achievement, the services of one or more teachers holding qualifications in Special Education and the provision of support services appropriate for such disorders, impairments or disabilities.

For more information, please visit:
Multiple Exceptionalities Support and Resources
Social Work Services

Social Work Services

The primary goal of Social Work Services is to provide direct support to students and to do so in the least intrusive fashion possible, while encouraging and maintaining a healthy learning environment.

These services are available particularly to assist those students whose social/emotional adjustment has been severely hindered by personal, social or family difficulties.

The nature of the services rendered is preventive in nature and occurs at three levels:

- services which promote a sense of spiritual, emotional, social, physical, educational and cultural well-being
- intervention services that provide direct response and assist in determining need rehabilitative services
- service is designed to empower students and assist them in maintaining and/or reclaiming a semblance or control over their particular situation(s).

To apply for Social Work Services, please contact your school and fill out a social work services form.

Celebrating 50 years of "Each Belongs" in the HWCDSB

2019 marked the 50th anniversary of “Each Belongs” in the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board.

Each Belongs is a philosophy of inclusive education that supports the full integration of students with special education needs into mainstream schools.

In 1969, the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board forever changed the course of Catholic education when it adopted “Each Belongs,” a special education model built on six principles. The last of those – “the kicker” – stated that the integration of all children into the ordinary school system was a reasonable aim.

“That was 50 years ago when segregation and institutionalization was the way children with special education needs were predominantly handled,” said Director of Education David Hansen. “And here we are 50 years down the road, 50 years of gifted educators ensuring that we have a fully inclusive school system.”

In this tribute video, educators, administrators and parents, past and present, reflect on the impact of Each Belongs.

“The heart of our school system is the belief that in every classroom, our students are works of God – creation alive,” said Hansen in concluding remarks. “And if we believe that then we have no choice but to understand that the philosophy of ‘Each Belongs’ has to guide our school system.”

“Or, as James Hansen would say, 'Each student belongs not because he or she can or cannot do something. Each belongs because he or she is.'”

Video produced by Matt Trabucco.