The Details

We welcome families to enrol for the 2016/17 learning year. SelfDesign supports families in navigating the details and opportunities of special needs services. Here is an overview of key considerations.


SelfDesign supports learners with both high incidence and low incidence special needs.

Low Incidence Special Needs

SelfDesign can apply for a special education grant from the government for learners with low incidence special needs. Eligible learners include those professionally diagnosed with the following special needs in accordance with BC Ministry of Education guidelines:

  • dependent handicapped
  • deaf/blind (multi-sensory deprived)
  • blind (requiring Braille support)
  • deaf (requiring full-time signing/oral interpreter)
  • medically fragile (including chronic health conditions)
  • intellectual disabilities (moderate to profound)
  • physical disabilities (moderate to profound)
  • visual impairment
  • hearing impairment
  • autism
  • serious mental illness
  • requiring intensive behavioural interventions

High Incidence Special Needs

We have a small amount of government funding to support children with high incidence special needs (e.g., learning disabilities, speech/language challenges, or requiring additional assessment). High incidence special needs include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • emotional disturbances (e.g., anxiety disorders)
  • learning disabilities (e.g., ADHD, SLD)
  • mild intellectual disabilities
  • speech or language impairments

Learner-Centred Plans

All BC special education learners must have an “Individual Education Plan” (IEP). At SelfDesign, we blend the IEP with the SelfDesign learning plan for a learner-centred result called the “Integrated Learning Plan” (ILP).

What Makes the Integrated Learning Plan (ILP) Different

The ILP is designed in collaboration with the learner and family and with support from our special education team. It draws on professional recommendations in learners’ documentation as well as insights from parents and learners themselves. As seen across SelfDesign, it incorporates activities and experiences beyond conventional understandings of learning, enabling learners to discover their full potential.

Modified vs Adapted Programs

Special education learners can follow a modified or adapted learning program.

  • A modified program changes the educational content and requirements such that the learner experiences ongoing academic success, without direct accountability to the BC curriculum.
  • An adapted program incorporates activities and mechanisms that aid the learner in achieving regular grade-level milestones. The BC curriculum requirements don’t change, just the approach to accomplishing them.

Educational vs Therapeutic Goals

The ILP usually includes both educational and therapeutic goals. SelfDesign believes in creative, learner-centred decisions on how to balance these goals and gain maximum benefits from funding.

  • An educational goal supports special needs that are direct obstacles to learning.
  • A therapeutic goal supports special needs that affect the learner more broadly, with indirect effects on learning.

Choices for High School Learners

Learners working toward high school certification can continue to enrol with SelfDesign after the age of 19 and can continue to access the special education grant while they are completing their high school certification. Special education learners enrolled in 10-12 learning can follow one of two paths:

  • School Completion Certificate: Learners on a modified program may work toward a School Completion Certificate (Evergreen). This option offers maximum flexibility and continues to follow the format of the K-9 program. It expands opportunities for meaningful livelihood based on the learner’s goals and strengths and in some situations equips learners for specific post-secondary education, if desired.
  • High School Diploma: Learners on an adapted program may work toward a BC (Dogwood) High School Diploma. This option requires adapted participation in SelfDesign’s 10-12 program. It expands opportunities for meaningful livelihood based on a learner’s strengths and goals, and may equip learners for post-secondary education, if desired.

Special Education Details

The Support Team

Each learner and family has access to a professional support team. The team begins with SelfDesign’s special education staff and extends to parents and other specialists.

The SelfDesign Special Education Team

Our special education team includes over 35 BC-certified educators with training that ranges from masters degrees in special education to certifications in specific learning techniques. These educators are involved as special education consultants for families, as external advisors in the approval of ILPs, and as contributors to the program’s growth and development.

Special Education Consultants

Families work with a dedicated special education consultant for all their SelfDesign needs—ensuring a seamless SelfDesign experience. Special education consultants – all of whom are BC certified teachers – meet with families at least once or twice during the year (depending on geography), and then use weekly written communications as well as video chats (via web cameras) to interact with families on a regular basis.

Outside Specialists

A learner’s support team often includes outside specialists. These individuals are contracted by SelfDesign to work directly with the learner with special needs and cannot include the learner’s immediate family. SelfDesign helps with the hiring and coordination of these service providers. In choosing these members of the support team, SelfDesign and the parents collectively judge applicants’ qualifications, contracting whoever will provide the best intervention for the learner. All service providers will have a criminal record check prior to working with any learners.

The Role of Parents

A learner’s parents, guardians and/or caregivers are important and welcome members of a learner’s support team. They know the child’s needs better than anyone and often have clear ideas as to the types of interventions that will facilitate the child’s optimal development.
 Parents roles include the following:

  • Sharing relevant documentation and coordinating the release of confidential files.
  • Providing invaluable insights in the development of their child’s Integrated Learning Plan (ILP).
  • Supporting the search for external service providers.
  • Ensuring other support workers are contributing in alignment with the ILP.

  • Maintaining regular communication, reports, and logs to enable maximum support from the SelfDesign team.

Using Grants

Special education grants are available to learners diagnosed with low incidence special needs.

The Big Picture for Funding

For learners with low incidence special needs, the special education grant is just one part of the funding that covers participation in SelfDesign. Funding is also provided by the government equivalent to what any independent distributed learning school would receive for that learner, and a small amount of funding is also available for any high incidence special needs that may exist.

Accessing the Grant

Based on the number of learners with special needs registered with SelfDesign, the government designates a related amount of grant funding to support our entire special education program. SelfDesign chooses to maximize the funds first and foremost to each specific learner’s Integrated Learning Plan. If a learner does not need their full funding, the balance is used to support other learners, at the discretion of the special education Vice Principal and in consultation with the family and special education consultant.

What the Grant Covers

All budget items must be linked to the learner’s Integrated Learning Plan and must be justified by recommendations in professional assessment reports. While there are some BC Ministry of Education limitations as to how the grant money can be used, the main guideline is that funding is used to support the realization of a child’s education program in light of the child’s special needs. Note: All services/resources must be contracted by and directly paid for by SelfDesign, as we are unable to reimburse parents if they choose to pay directly.

Grant money is commonly used for the following:

  • Traditional rehabilitative therapies (e.g., OT, PT)
  • Adapted physical activities (e.g., therapeutic horse riding, circus school, 1:1 gymnastics)
  • Therapeutic arts (e.g. art therapy, music therapy)
  • Special education assistants (SEA) (e.g., for social skills, academic skills, life skills)
  • Specialized software