13 Best Special Needs Schools in Florida

There are many special needs schools in America and beyond but this article will walk you through the best special needs schools in Florida. Special needs schools are available for people who require special attention.

There are different categories of children with special needs because perhaps different children have different problems. These children with disabilities may not easily learn in public schools and so the need to enroll them in a special needs school is very high.

There are so many of them and we will try as much as possible to suggest a good range of options that you can choose from.


Best Special Needs Schools in Florida

  • North Florida School of Special Education
  • Academy for Autism
  • The Arbor School of Central Florida
  • Center Academy Palm Harbor
  • Atlantis Academy Palm Beaches
  • Center Academy Lutz
  • The Vanguard school
  • Florida Autism Center of Excellence (F.A. C. E)
  • Divine Academy
  • Mountaineers School of Autism
  • STARS Autism school
  • Lakeland Institute for Learning
  • Livingstone Academy Autism Center(LAAC)

1. North Florida School of Special Education

North Florida School of Special Education came into existence in 1992 after a group of parents discovered the need for better educational opportunities for their three children with intellectual and developmental differences.

This idea which started as a dream has journeyed a different path of development where students are embraced, nurtured, and educated without pressure to perform like their fellows who are unarguable of a different developmental process.

After twelve years of its establishment, the North Florida School of Special Education relocated to the Andersmith Campus on Mill Creek Road ten years after their relocation, the school became accredited by the Florida Council of Independent Schools.

And since then, the school has continued to grow tremendously beyond doubt.  It is one of the best Special needs schools in Florida that serve students with intellectual and developmental differences within the age range of 6-22.

There’s also an opportunity for a postgraduate program for young adults between 22-40.

North Florida School of Special Education maintains a teacher-to-student ratio of 1:6 and six instruction levels within eleven classrooms.

Visit School Website here

2. Academy for Autism

The Academy for Autism is one of the Best Special needs schools in Florida. And just like the North Florida School of Special Education, it was established by a parent of two children with Autism who wanted a better chance at life, education, and development for the child.

The mission of the academy is to provide an affordable education alternative different from the public school system such that low and middle-income families with children who have special needs can attend.

The academy has a team of professionals who are quite dedicated to the field of special education and possess an astute ability to handle children with autism and other developmental shortcomings.

Amongst other qualifications, the professional team has experience with applied behavior analysis, speech and language pathology, occupational and physical therapy, exceptional student education, autism, and other developmental issues.

At the Academy for Autism, students are treated with dignity, and each child’s best learning style is easily adapted to at all times. Little wonder Academy for Autism is easily one of the Best Special needs schools in Florida.

Methods for teaching at the Academy for Autism evolve constantly because the school is receptive to new teaching approaches and workshops and seminars are always available for professionals to stay current and flow easily with teaching the students.

See further information on the school website

3. The Arbor School of Central Florida

The Arbor School of Central Florida was founded in 2002 with an original plan to give remediation in academics and speech therapy to children with difficulties in development.

This opportunity was available for 1-2 years before the students are taken back to the traditional educational setting. However, this arrangement of the school changed from short-term, middle school to long-term school for grades, and in 2007, there was the addition of a 5th grade.

The Arbor School of Central Florida has high school and transitional levels respectively.

Visit School Website

4. Center Academy Palm Harbor

Center Academy is an independent private school that has been family-operated since 1968. It provides a prep curriculum for students who have differences in learning in grades 4-6.

Center Academy ensures that the self-esteem, self-concept, and self-confidence of students are closely nurtured positively. The organizational policies include: that students are inspired to give their best to all the tasks they undertake, that the staff understands the significance of their work, and work with zeal.

The staff and teachers have professional experience in a vast field of learning differences and challenges which include: ADHD, autism/spectrum/Asperger’s, dyslexia, etc., and students are helped to reach their personal educational goals individually.

School year students can enroll at any time of the year as long as there is a space in the school. Admissions at the Center Academy Palm Harbor can start with a phone call to the school director after which the parents and prospective students can visit the school and meet the director to ascertain if they would want their ward to attend the Center Academy Palm Harbor.

Tuition at the Center Academy, Palm Harbor come in different payment plan and options and scholarships are also available. Students with a 504 Plan or individual Education plan may qualify for a scholarship in the academy called the McKay Scholarship and many students can also qualify for Family Empowerment Scholarships; this option is available based on newly raised family income limits or special needs.

Visit School Website

5. Atlantis Academy Palm Beaches

Atlantis Academy Palm Beaches is one of the Best Special needs schools in Florida.

The school was established in 1996 so that students with learning difficulties and who have struggles in their current school environment can find reasons to do better.

It embraces the importance of a close parent/ teacher/ student relationship for the benefit of each child. There’s a low student-to-teacher ratio that enables the students to firmly build their self-confidence and self-esteem. The first motive of the Academy is to nurture the students and see to each child’s growth unreservedly.

The Atlantis Academy Palm Beaches offers a core curriculum that is in alignment with the Florida Standards in English language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies.

The school effectively utilizes technology throughout instruction and social skills development is incorporated throughout the day. After-school clubs, tutoring, and summer programs to enhance students’ experience.

So far, the school has a record of 95% graduate experience, about 99.9% of students receive state scholarships, and there’s a percentage ratio of 11: 1 student-teacher ratio.

The school accepts applications year-round and students are welcome every day. Prospective students are expected to spend at least one day on the campus so that both the student and the school management can learn about each other.

Before resumption, each student is expected to have a current and original of the following documents:

  • Florida certificate of immunization form(DH680)
  • Florida School entry health exam (SH3040)
  • Personal Data Form
  • Authorization for medical treatment
  • Physical Education form
  • Psychoeducational Evaluation (if applicable)
  • Individual Educational Plan(IEP) (If applicable)
  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Student’s Picture
  • Transcript

Visit School Website

6. Florida Autism Center of Excellence (F.A.C.E)

Stands out as one of the best special needs schools in Florida, the school sits close to Riverhills Church of God. The school runs educational programs for children and young adults with Autism.

All teachers at F.A.C.E are certified by Hillsborough County schools and have Exceptional student education certification and Elementary K-6 certification and a minimum of a bachelor’s degree with a certificate in teaching. The self-esteem and psychological improvement of the students are greatly nurtured.

Visit School Website

7. Divine Academy

Divine Academy is one of the best Special needs schools in Florida, it was founded in 2005 by Ingrid Garcia and Pamela Vogelsang.

They both had special education degrees and an experience of 25 years in Special education combined at the time of the school’s establishment.

Having seen the need for special education in and across America, they had a mission to give these students a chance to grow to their fullest potential in educational, vocational, and life skills instruction in an environment that welcomes them. Programs available are middle school, high school, and adult programs.

Some experienced professionals can take care of the students.

Visit School website

8. STARS Autism School

S.T.A.R.S Autism School makes available a verified scientific education system favorable for children living with Autism to meet up with societal advancement and move ahead in their life.

Staff is committed to preparing the students to achieve in their technological and multi-lingual culture within an environment of love and care. S.T.A.R.S uses the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for curriculum development. The curriculum at S.T.A.R.S is revised regularly and include the following:

  • Arts, therapy, dance, and sports
  • Sports
  • Yoga
  • Robotic and Chess programs
  • Aromatherapy
  • Occupational and Physical therapy
  • Speech and language therapy
  • Summer camp
  • Nutritional support

S.T.A.R.S non-discriminatory policy suggests that students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin are admitted to learn and enjoy every benefit available just like other students. S.T.A.R.S school of autism is easily one of the best special needs schools in Florida.

Scholarships available to students include McKay Scholarship, PLSA Scholarship.

Visit School Website

9. Mountaineers School of Autism(MSA)

One firm belief of Mountaineers School of Autism is that every child is special and reaches for the sky if properly nurtured.

Mountaineers School of Autism nurtures the students to become their best in academics, social skills, speech therapy, occupational therapy, athletics, music, sign language, independent living skill, friendship, support, massage/essential oils, iPads/ Technology, Spanish, sign language and endless amounts of patience and love.

The admission process is very straightforward and does not need protocols.

  • Inquire about admission or stopover for a tour.
  • Apply
  • Take the intake screening, and then await further recommendation to accept or decline a student for admission is made to MSA Executive committee.

Visit School Website

10. Lakeland Institute for learning

Lakeland Institute for learning is a clinical school that delivers services to students who need language services and special attention. The class size is a ratio of 1:10 for the Teacher-student ratio. At Lakeland institute for learning, students fall into two categories: special needs and English Language Learners.

It is one of the best special needs schools in Florida. Applications are welcome as long as there’s a vacancy in the school.

Visit School Web

11. The Vanguard School

The Vanguard School is one of the best special needs schools in Florida. It is concerned with grooming young people to their zenith unreservedly. They have an abiding philosophy that shortcuts are not necessary and don’t chart a good path in life because nothing worthwhile is gotten easily. For great success in life, students are trained in skill-building, fluency, coherence, stamina, confidence, resilience, and humility.

There are opportunities for students to enroll in student clubs, social events, community service projects, and a lot of other activities that boost performance in young people.

Visit School Website

12. Center Academy Lutz

Center Academy is a special needs education school in Lutz, outside Tampa, Florida. It originally started in 1968 by providing a college prep curriculum for students with learning disabilities in grades 4-12. It is an independent private school that’s fully accredited. The students are tutored on being self-confident and well-esteemed of themselves. Students engage in field trips all year round to help their ability to learn through imagery. Scholarship opportunities are open to students. The application process is very straightforward.

Visit School Website

13. Livingstone Academy Autism Center

One of the best special needs schools in Florida, it is located in Bloomingdale, Florida. It is an independent, non-profit school aimed at meeting the unique educational needs of children with autism learning disabilities.

The school runs its curriculum on a multi-modality teaching approach to address the unique learning style of each student. Students also have access to Sensory gym, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, applied behavioral analysis.

Visit School Website


How many Special Needs schools are in Florida?

There’s a myriad of special needs schools in Florida but an estimated number of about 394 special needs schools in Florida. Quite many, so it’s very easy for you to choose which you are most comfortable with.

What is Special Education in Florida

Special education in Florida can easily be defined as instruction that is designed to meet the needs and developmental requirements of children with disabilities in Florida.

Children in schools who have special learning needs because of a disability or retardation in the developmental process are called exceptional students. The exceptional help given to them at school is called exceptional student education, or ESE.