The Details

We welcome families to enrol for the 2017/18 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 through two special education programs: high incidence and low incidence.


SelfDesign can access supplemental funding from the government to support 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 or visually impaired
  • deaf or hard of hearing
  • medically fragile (including chronic health conditions)
  • intellectual disabilities (moderate to profound)
  • physical disabilities (moderate to profound)
  • autism spectrum disorder
  • severe mental illness/severe behaviour issues

High Incidence Special Needs

SelfDesign provides support for children with high incidence special needs. High incidence special needs include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • learning disabilities
  • mild mental health issues/ behavioural concerns (ADHD, anxiety)
  • mild intellectual disabilities
  • speech and language impairment

Learner-Centred Plans

Each learner at SelfDesign has a unique learning plan created through collaboration with the learner, the family, and the learning consultant. For learners in the SE Program, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is created above and beyond the learning plan to provide specialized support in the areas of need.


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.
  • A combined program is also possible. Many students follow programs which are adapted in some areas and modified in others.

Choices for Learners in Grades 10-12

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.


Our special education team includes over 65 BC-certified educators with training that ranges from masters degrees in special education to certifications in specific learning techniques. These educators are involved as learning consultants for families, as external advisors in the approval and monitoring of IEPs and special education budgets, and as contributors to the program’s growth and development.


Families work with a dedicated special education consultant for all their SelfDesign needs, ensuring a seamless SelfDesign experience. Learning consultants in SupportEd – all of whom are BC certified teachers – meet in person 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 weekly basis.


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 collaborate to judge applicants’ qualifications, contracting whoever will provide the best assistance for the learner. All service providers will have a criminal record check prior to working with any learners.


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 supports 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 learning plan and IEP.
  • Assisting in the search for external service providers.
  • Ensuring other support workers are contributing in alignment with the ILP.
  • Maintaining weekly communication, reports, and logs to enable maximum support from the SelfDesign team.

Using Grants

Special education supplemental funding is available to support learners diagnosed with low incidence special needs.


SelfDesign is provided with educational funding grants for all students, as well as supplemental funding to support those with special needs. This is the same funding that is provided to all independent distributed learning schools in BC.


The supplemental funding grant for low incidence is based on the number of learners in the low incidence program. The funds are not designated for specific students; the funding grant is to be used for the entire SE program, including support for students as well as teacher and administrative support.

Every student is entitled to a specialized program that meets the unique individual needs of that child. No student is entitled to a specific amount of funding.


Families and learners are invited to share in the creation of learning plans and IEP’s. The special education consultant then designs a budget for each learner that supports the goals in the IEP. All budget items must be linked to the learner’s IEP and must be justified by recommendations in professional assessment reports. Under the direction of the special education consultant and the SE leadership team, funding is used to support the realization of the learner’s most beneficial education program.

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.

Interventions often included in IEPs are:

  • Traditional rehabilitative therapies (e.g., OT, PT)
  • Adapted physical activities (e.g., therapeutic horseback riding, circus school, 1:1 gymnastics or swimming, martial arts, dance, rock climbing)
  • Therapeutic arts (e.g. art therapy, music therapy)
  • Special education assistants (SEA) (e.g., for social skills, academic skills, life skills)
  • Specialized software
  • According to Ministry of Education regulations, funding may not be used to provide the following: child care, transportation, gas, furniture, trampolines, animals or animal care items