October 13, 2004

Canadian School Offers Special Needs Classes

A recent story out of Edmonton, Canada highlights the opportunity for improved educational programs for children with schizophrenia.

In the article (from The Edmonton Journal) the story cited the example of one 14 year old boy who suffered from schizophrenia, had had many school problems in the past, but was now doing well in this new "special needs" school.

"Like most children, Fred Samtorini''s backpack weighs him down.

Still, the 14-year-old bears up just fine under that heavy load. Not so easy for him to shoulder, however, has been schizophrenia. Worse than the disease, he says, has been name-calling and teasing by classmates.

Today, that's changing.

The ninth-grader is now one of 18 students enrolled in Edmonton's only program specifically geared towards children with severe mental illness.

"At my old school, I had no friends and people used to make fun of me behind my back," he says. "Here, they don't."

The inner-city Spruce Avenue school on 102nd Street is host to the program, jointly funded by Edmonton Public Schools and Capital Health. The program provides Fred and classmates the support of both special-needs teachers and psychiatric nurses. It's the presence of the latter that's most instrumental in getting these students back into the community, says Brian Malloy, a regional manager for the children's mental health unit of Capital Health.

The regional health authority pays the salaries of the two psychiatric nurses at the school.

"Last year, Fred got all A's," says his mother, Arlene . "He was one of the leads in the school play a couple years ago. He wants to be a paleontologist."

Posted by szadmin at October 13, 2004 03:01 AM

More Information on Schizophrenia Education


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