Special Education

Students who have behavioural, communicational, intellectual, physical, or multiple exceptionalities may require special education programs and/or services to benefit fully from their school experience.

Special education programs and services primarily consist of instruction and assessments that are different from those provided to the general student population. These may take the form of accommodations (such as specific teaching strategies, preferential seating, and assistive technology) and/or an educational program that is modified from the age-appropriate grade level expectations in a particular course or subject, as outlined in the Ministry of Education's curriculum policy documents.

The Ministry of Education has developed Special Education in Ontario, Kindergarten to Grade 12: Policy and Resource Guide (2017) to support educators in the implementation of effective programs and/or services for students with special education needs. This document, also available in PDF format (2.1 MB), supersedes Special Education: A Resource Guide (2001) as well as the following policy and resource documents:

  • Standards for School Boards' Special Education Plans (2000)
  • Individual Education Plans: Standards for Development, Program Planning, and Implementation (2000)
  • Transition Planning: A Resource Guide (2002)
  • The Individual Education Plan (IEP): A Resource Guide (2004)

Note that while this document supersedes the two standards documents, the standards described in both documents remain unchanged and are reflected in this guide.


Policy Direction


Autism Spectrum Disorder

Resource Documents

Special Education Reports/Recommendations

Roles and Responsibilities

Additional Information on Special Education

Related Information

Special Education Advisory Committee (SEAC)

Advice to Parents

There are a number of non-profit advocacy organizations that provide advice and guidance to parents on various issues related to the special needs of their children. The Ministry has listed a number of them below.
Disclaimer: The Ministry does not endorse any services and or products being offered by the organizations listed below. The list is merely intended to make parents aware of their existence.

  • Association for Bright Children
  • Association francophone de parents d'enfants dyslexiques ou ayant tout autre trouble d'apprentissage (AFPED)
  • Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario (LDAO)
  • Canadian Association of Community Living
  • VOICE for Hearing Impaired Children
  • Integration Action for Inclusion in Education and Community
  • Ontario Association for Families of Children with Communication Disorders (OAFCCD)
  • Parents for Children's Mental Health
  • The Canadian Hearing Society (CHS)
  • Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario
  • Tourette Syndrome Foundation of Canada
  • Silent Voice Canada
  • Bob Rumball Foundation for the Deaf
  • Ontario Cultural Society of the Deaf
  • Ontario Association for the Deaf

Questions and Answers