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Program aims to help special needs students

Every child and student is unique and the Butler County School System is working hard to keep it that way.

Through a program called Child Find, students with disabilities are working with parents and agencies to make sure no child is left behind.

The statewide effort by the State Department of Education and Department of Rehabilitation Services works to locate, identify and evaluate children with disabilities between the ages of 3 and 21.

“(The program) started a long time ago,” Special Education Coordinator Willie Thornton said. “A lot of times social services will operate as a separate entity but now we have inclusion. What we want to do is to get students with their peers.”

Each child that goes through the program is evaluated from the beginning. The first assessment test is to test the child’s hearing and vision.

“If the student fails, they are refereed for an even more extensive evaluation,” Thornton said. “From there, we go for the type of testing that the doctors may recommend.”

The program works with students that may have hearing impairment, deaf-blindness, mental retardation, orthopedic impairment, emotional disturbance, speech and language impairment, visual impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury or development delay.

“I think it’s important, because what we’re trying to do and our goal is to ensure that students with disabilities are successful in their ability,” Thornton said. “It’s also being able to have the students become as independent as possible.”

Thornton said it’s important for parents to escape the thoughts of denial and move forward in helping a child in need.

“We want to be the entity that comes in to support you and your child,” Thornton said. “When we look at children, we don’t consider them at risk, we consider them at promise.”