7 Best Online Programs For Special Needs Students (2023)

Education should be available for everyone, and these 7 best online programs for special needs students are great platforms that you need to leverage. If your child has special needs, you know very well that he or she will struggle in a regular school. The environment and pace of a public school are not created to cater to the different needs of students. The one-size, fits all curriculum do not address the unique needs of your child. This is why online programs are ideal for special needs students.

Take for example the story of Ryan Fox published in Great Smart. As a student with autism, Ryan had a hard time in class. He couldn’t take notes fast enough nor pay attention at the same time. His mom had to explain the lessons again when he came home. Ryan said that online learning has helped him adapt to the demands of school at his own pace. He said that having ASD makes it hard for him to deal with school chaos. Learning online has made him feel organized, safe, and calm.

7 Best Online Programs For Special Needs Students (1)


Ryan is not alone in this. A lot of special needs students prefer to learn at home. With the accessibility of online education, they can study what they want. They can learn in a relaxed, non-threatening environment without having to deal with the stress of school. Not only that, assistive technologies greatly aid in their learning process. From screen readers to audio transcribers, students can learn despite their limitations.

Although for some families internet access may be a problem, investing on a high-speed internet connection will open doors of opportunities for children with special needs. Just imagine if the 11 Countries with the Highest Rates of Autism in the World leverage and sponsor online programs for their students. They would open more learning opportunities for children with autism. Internet access is a small price to pay in exchange for the quality education students. Online learning is getting more prevalent and it’s showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, in the United States alone, 27 states offer virtual schools so that students can take online classes. It is also expected that online enrollment will grow over the next decade.

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Today we’ll be looking at seven online programs for special needs students that will help them thrive in their academics. These programs were ranked and given scores according to their tuition fees (inclusion of free trial), years in the business, and scope. Higher scores are given to the programs with lower fees, longer tenure, and wider scope. The more accessible and comprehensive the program is, the higher rank it is given. These online platforms will not only help students but also their parents and teachers as they help them succeed in their education.

7. ASD Reading – Review Score: 12

ASD Reading is a specialized online reading program for students with autism. It is founded by Dr. Marion Blank, a world-renowned language and literacy expert from the Columbia University. Her passion for teaching children how to read has led her to establish the Reading Kingdom and ASD Reading. She is also so the Co-Director of the Columbia University Developmental Neuropsychiatry Program for Autism and Related Disorders. It is one of the few programs in the world that’s been successful in teaching ASD students to read.

ASD Reading has a 30-day free trial which can help you gauge if the program is suited for your child. Instead of a tuition fee, parents and teachers are encouraged to buy their materials with prices ranging from $9.99 to $189.99. The focus of this online program is reading, comprehension, and language. There are also materials for basic math, music, and typing.

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6. Laureate Learning – Review Score: 13

Next in line on our list ofbest online programs for special needs students is theLaureate Learningthat is a reading and language program tailored for children with special needs. Founded by speech pathologists Dr. Mary Sweig Wilson and Mr. Bernard J. Fox in 1982, this program is known for being research-based. It combines the latest linguistic theory with years of clinical experience. The program caters not only to ASD students but also language impairments, developmental disabilities, attention deficit disorder (ADD), Down syndrome, aphasia, and traumatic brain injury.

Known for its effective instructional design, digital interactive speech, engaging graphics, and amusing animation, Laureate’s programs ranges from $500 to $840 with free syntax assessment. Parents and teachers can choose programs by category namely Early Instructional Games, Early Vocabulary, Expressive Language, Syntax Training, Auditory Discrimination and Processing, Vocabulary and Concept Development, Functional Language, Categorization Skills, and Reading and Spelling. They also have an Autism Package, Language Development Package, and Syntax Package.

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5. EdAnywhere – Review Score: 16

Established in 1996 initially for high school families, EdAnywhere has evolved to become a student-centered program providing a safe academic atmosphere. The program’s mission of “Leaving No Student Behind” resonates with parents, teachers, and students with special needs. All of the instructors of EdAnywhere are special education certified. Their program provides opportunities for students to earn a high school diploma.

A strong advocate of homeschooling, EdAnywhere believes in the flexibility of customized learning. They offer courses and online programs for language arts, science, math, social science, and other Common Core subjects. Primarily for middle school and high school, they also have K to 8th technology classes. They have a Text Assistance program for students with learning disabilities, dyslexia, speech disorders, and visual impairments. Their monthly distance access fee for three to six classes is $300. The program may be pricey, but they have multiple accreditations that will greatly help special students who plan to transition to college.

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4. Time4Learning – Review Score: 16

Founded in 2003, Time4Learning, that ranked 4th on our list ofbest online programs for special needs students provides a comprehensive curriculum from elementary to high school. The program includes lesson plans, automated reporting, and homeschool resources. They have a curriculum for special needs students that help build and reinforce reading, writing, and math learning. The programs are individually set for each child and the student progresses at his or her own rate. Children with ADHD-like behavior may struggle with textbooks and non-interactive environment but with Time4Learning engaging programs, they can become more focused and successful in learning.

They have a fixed tuition fee of $19.95 monthly per student from PreK to 8th Grade. From 9th Grade to 12th Grade the cost is $30 monthly per student. Time4Learning offers language arts from K to 5th Grade including phonics, fluency, grammar, spelling, vocabulary, reading comprehension, writing processes, and more. They also have a math curriculum which covers number theory, value and meaning, measurement, geometry, number sense, geometry, spatial reasoning, data analysis, probability, pre-algebra, and more from PreK to 8th Grade. With their comprehensive coverage and affordable fees, Time4Learning is indeed one of the 7 best online programs for special needs students.

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3. K5Learning – Review Score: 17

K5Learning is an online math and reading program for K-5 students. Founded in 2007, this program offers award-winning lessons and worksheets along with progress reports for parents. Aside from its 14-day, full access free trial, K5Learning’s materials are very affordable with prices starting at $1.29 to $75 for comprehensive bundled workbooks. The program covers reading (phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, vocabulary, and reading comprehension), math (numbers and operations, geometry, measurement, time, money, algebraic thinking, and data analysis), and spelling (advanced spelling and vocabulary program for language skills improvement).

K5 also has a special needs programthat has been recognized as a finalist for two consecutive years by the SIIA CODiE for the best instructional solution for the special needs students category. The program has been proven to work well for students with ADD/ADHD, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, dyslexia, and other learning disabilities. Their research-based and individualized program makes it suitable for students who struggle with reading and math.

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2. Smart Tutor – Review Score: 18

Fittingly founded in a home office back in 2000, Smart Tutor, next on our list ofbest online programs for special needs students was first used by the homeschooling founders themselves and their children. In 2008, the program received the BESSIE award for Best Educational Software in the Early Elementary and Upper Elementary categories. It also won the Parents’ Choice Awards in 2013 for the Website category. They have a 14-day free trial which allows you to access their reading and math curriculum.

Designed for students K-5, Smart Tutor was designed to adapt to the different learning styles of digital learners. This award-winning program has been effective for students with special needs, struggling or at-risk students, and advanced or gifted students. Their curriculum is also aligned with Common Core standards. The non-threatening, educational games and stories of this program make learning fun for students! Smart Tutor has monthly rates of $13.99 per child and $8.99 for each additional child. Their annual rate is $119.99 per child and $89.99 for each additional child. They also have a free resources portal!

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1. Zane Education – Review Score: 25

Zane Educationis our top choice on the list ofbest online programs for special needs students for many reasons. Having been in the education industry for 25 years through its sister company Zane Publishing, this program provides K-12 materials for all subjects that are aligned to the Common Core. The best part is that they have separate sections for special needs students. If your child has ADD or ADHD, there’s a page for that. If your child is gifted or advanced, Zane provides tools and information on how you can teach him or her more effectively. They have specific pages for ASD students, children with learning and reading difficulties, disabled students, visually and hearing impaired learners, dyslexic students, and other special needs.

You can avail the Zane program for free with a lot of resources or choose from their different subscriptions. The Gold Membership gives students full access to all 1,500 curriculum videos for K-12 levels for only $17.99 per month or $197.89 per year. If you only want access to the grade level specific to your child, you can get the Silver Membership and pay only $12.99 per month or $142.89 per year. They also have a Bronze Membership, which is specific only to a particular subject for only $8.99 per month or $98.89 per year.

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These 7 best online programs for special needs students can help propel your child to succeed in their learning journey. They have multiple curriculum options, engaging tools, and resources for parents and teachers. Education is now more accessible than ever. Online learning is the game changer that has leveled the playing field for all students. There are no more boundaries that special needs students cannot cross.

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What is the effectiveness of online learning? ›

Online learning is not only more effective for students, but it is also better for the environment. Online courses consume 90% less energy and release 85% less CO2 per student than traditional in-person courses, according to the Open University in the United Kingdom.

How has online learning affected students? ›

Online learning can lead to students not developing the necessary communicative skills. In addition, students must have high-speed internet access at home, which can lead to complications if it is not available.

How do you teach special needs students online? ›

How to Help Your Special Needs Students Learn Remotely
  1. Connect with Students Emotionally. ...
  2. Schedule Time Together as a Class. ...
  3. Make Teaching Videos. ...
  4. Communicate Frequently with Parents and Families. ...
  5. Collaborate with Your Team Members. ...
  6. Keep IEP Meetings On Track.
Aug 11, 2020

What are the 10 advantages of online learning? ›

Ten Advantages of Online Courses
  • Online courses are convenient. ...
  • Online courses offer flexibility. ...
  • Online courses bring education right to your home. ...
  • Online courses offer more individual attention. ...
  • Online courses help you meet interesting people. ...
  • Online courses give you real world skills.

Why do students prefer online learning? ›

It Offers More Flexibility

One of the significant reasons why many students prefer online learning is because of the flexibility it offers. Unlike traditional classes that have a fixed schedule, online classes are typically asynchronous and give you the freedom to organize your classes at your convenience.

What are the biggest challenges facing online education today? ›

Let's take a look at the biggest challenges facing distance education today and review some specific tips for how to overcome them.
  • #1. Technical Issues.
  • #2. Lack of Motivation.
  • #3. Feelings of Isolation.
  • #4. Effective Time Management.
  • #5. Managing Distractions and Staying Focused.
Aug 30, 2022

Why are students struggling with online learning? ›

Given all the distractions that are only one click away, students are easily diverted from online study. Those distractions are designed to grab attention and maintain engagement. Distractions include everything from streaming services and social media to online games.

Do students learn better online or in a classroom? ›

Scientists looking at the effectiveness of distance learning found that in some studies, distance education students performed slightly better in exams and grades than traditional classroom students, but that overall the average performance outcomes weren't that different.

What are 5 things that we as educators can do to help children with special needs? ›

To help you succeed in teaching special needs students in general, however, you should consider the following five teaching tips:
  • Keep your classroom organized. ...
  • Remember that each child is an individual. ...
  • Give your students opportunities for success. ...
  • Create a support network. ...
  • Keep things simple.

What strategies can teachers use to assist students with special educational needs? ›

Effective Teaching Strategies for Special Education
  • Set clear expectations for all students.
  • Break assignments into smaller pieces to work on in short time periods.
  • Space breaks between assignments so students can refocus on their tasks.
  • Share ideas with parents so they can help with homework.
Apr 6, 2018

What are the 3 most important roles of a special education teacher? ›

Special education teachers typically do the following: Assess students' skills and determine their educational needs. Adapt general lessons to meet students' needs. Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student.

What are the 4 assessment tools? ›

Peer Review - Having students assess themselves and each other. Portfolios - A collection of evidence to demonstrate mastery of a given set of concepts. Rubrics - A set of evaluation criteria based on learning goals and student performance. Written Reports - Tips for assessing written reports.

What is the most common type of special needs? ›

Some of the more prevalent types of developmental special needs are: Autism Spectrum Disorder (impaired communication and social interactions) Down Syndrome or trisomy 21 (genetic disorder causing developmental delays and physical disabilities) PANS/PANDAS (autoimmune conditions that interrupt neurological functions)

How can I make online learning more interesting? ›

Create a more engaging virtual classroom
  1. Present your best (online) self.
  2. Use technology to your advantage.
  3. Find what inspires your students.
  4. Set goals and help students stick to them.
  5. Keep it interactive.
  6. Break down the lessons and make it digestible.
  7. Make your students feel valued.
  8. Be patient with your students.

What are the positive impacts of online classes? ›

Digital learning can improve the performance of individuals, businesses, and society by promoting vital, future-ready skills, such as communication, collaboration, technology, and education. Making online learning accessible for everyone from preschool students to post-graduate learners is in all of our best interests.

How can I improve my online learning? ›

Embracing digital communication through emails, student chat rooms, social media channels, online forums, and more, is the key to increasing the effectiveness of online learning. Students can interact with classmates and raise doubts relevant to the course and assignments.

Is online learning effective or not body? ›

This is not an effective way to learn. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of taking an online class is the absence of face-to-face interaction between the teacher and their students. Live sessions are infrequent and often are scheduled during the middle of the day when students have to attend other classes or work.

Is online education Good or bad? ›

If a student does not feel they are getting the proper guidance, they may not have enough self-discipline to fully engage in the lessons themselves. Moving to virtual, real-time classes instead of just online courses gives a greater sense of accountability.

Why Online study is important? ›

Provides students with more control over their learning

Traditional learning methods allow the teacher to decide how they will convey information to their students, but online learning provides more flexibility and gives children control over their education.

What is the greatest challenge today's students face 2022? ›

The 6 Biggest Challenges Facing Children in 2022
  1. Children Living in Conflict Zones. ...
  2. Unprecedented Global Hunger. ...
  3. Two Years of Disrupted Education. ...
  4. Climate Change. ...
  5. Children Crossing Borders. ...
  6. Child Mortality Due to COVID-19.

How do you motivate students to attend online classes? ›

How to Motivate Learners in an Online Learning Environment
  1. Personalizing Learning.
  2. Rewarding Students' Success.
  3. Providing Meaningful Feedback.
  4. Allow Self-Monitoring.
  5. Setting Clear Goals and Learning Paths.
  6. Encouraging Collaboration with Others.
  7. Using a Variety of Learning Tools.
Jan 22, 2022

How can we solve the problem of online learning? ›

How to overcome the challenge? You should inform your parents and friends about the time of online learning so that there will be no distractions from their side. Restrict the study area for others to come during live sessions and video calls. Make sure you relax in the breaks set on the timetable.

What is the most common challenge for students in online classes? ›

Distractions Everywhere

Having a time management system is perhaps the most difficult challenge for students to overcome because it depends entirely on self-motivation. Students need to be serious about their education, learn how to manage time, set their daily schedule, and study despite constant distractions.

What do teachers say about online learning? ›

Teachers in all-remote environments reported higher student absenteeism and less student work completion than teachers in face-to-face classrooms. These online teachers also said that they needed more support and guidance in planning instruction than their colleagues who were teaching in-person.

What are the common problems in online classes? ›

Abundant Distractions, Lack of Discipline

Most students find learning online boring and often complain of lacking the motivation to make it through a class. Even teachers often complain of a lack of tools to make the classes engaging, leading to a loss of interest from both parties.

Is online school better for mental health? ›

Learning from home may allow students to learn in a more comfortable environment. Students who experience bullying, anxiety, discrimination, or harassment may find that online learning benefits their mental health.

What do students prefer online learning or face to face? ›

Most want in-person education

According to researchers, 65 percent of students preferred in-person instruction, compared to 18 percent who prefer a hybrid model and 9 percent who reported they'd rather learn remotely.

Why online classes are better than physical? ›

But many studies show that through physical classroom students tend to be more disciplined as they stick to so-called routines. Self-discipline is a must-have for every student to be a good learner. For example, waking up early, getting ready, and being punctual to attend the class.

Is online learning effective essay? ›

It reduces nervousness among students, as many are able to communicate more through online education than regular classes. One can learn from merely anyplace as long as they have an available internet device. Online education normally provides a chance to study at our own speed as there is no rush.

Is online learning as effective as face to face learning? ›

In many ways, online learning is more effective than face to face learning. As research shows 80% of organizations believe their use of digital learning will remain the same, increase or decrease only slightly as restrictions on live training ease.

Is online education still effective? ›

Retention rates are higher with online learning. Many offline courses struggle to retain students throughout the length of the course. The Research Institute of America have found that this is not the case with eLearning. Rather, online courses have increased student retention rates from anything from 25% to 60%.

Is online learning effective or not body? ›

This is not an effective way to learn. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage of taking an online class is the absence of face-to-face interaction between the teacher and their students. Live sessions are infrequent and often are scheduled during the middle of the day when students have to attend other classes or work.

Why is online learning important? ›

Online courses teach students how to manage their time better since the student bears the responsibility of engaging with the course instead of simply showing up to class on an assigned day and time. As a result, students not only gain knowledge from the coursework, but they also sharpen their time management skills.

Do students learn better online or in a classroom? ›

Scientists looking at the effectiveness of distance learning found that in some studies, distance education students performed slightly better in exams and grades than traditional classroom students, but that overall the average performance outcomes weren't that different.

What are the biggest challenges facing online education today? ›

Let's take a look at the biggest challenges facing distance education today and review some specific tips for how to overcome them.
  • #1. Technical Issues.
  • #2. Lack of Motivation.
  • #3. Feelings of Isolation.
  • #4. Effective Time Management.
  • #5. Managing Distractions and Staying Focused.
Aug 30, 2022

What are the challenges of online classroom learning? ›

  • Staying Motivated. Given that students may not be attending class at a set time on a physical campus, finding the motivation to get started on coursework can be difficult. ...
  • Technical Issues. ...
  • Some Students Being Left Behind. ...
  • Diminished Social Aspects.
Mar 2, 2022

What Is online learning easy? ›

What is Online Learning? Online learning is education that takes place over the Internet. It is often referred to as “e- learning” among other terms. However, online learning is just one type of “distance learning” - the umbrella term for any learning that takes place across distance and not in a traditional classroom.

Why face to face classes is more effective? ›

Face-to-face education is better than online education since it boosts interpersonal interaction between students and their instructors, encourages students to connect with others and learn how to socialize with different people, and there is less distraction.

Is online education better than offline education? ›

The biggest advantage of online classes is their flexibility. It gives students the freedom to establish their own learning rate without feeling rushed. Students can simply attend courses whenever it is convenient for them because they have access to recorded videos and online reading material.

Why is online school better than in person? ›

Online programs are usually less expensive than on-campus classes since online students don't need to be provided with the same type of resources as traditional students need. Taking online classes means you don't need to worry about paying any student amenity fees or about getting expensive on-campus parking passes.

How do students and teachers feel about online learning? ›

More than 90% teachers felt that no meaningful assessment of children's learning was possible during online classes. Parents have echoed this sentiment with almost 70% being of the opinion that online classes are not effective for the learning of their children,” the survey has claimed.


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