Special Needs Education in Brazil

Understand what kind of assistance is available for children with special needs in the Brazilian school system...

There are no official special considerations made for children with physical disabilities or learning difficulties in the state school system, although some schools may recognise certain learning needs and make arrangements for special classes.

In the private school system, the vast majority of institutions recognise the need for special facilities, and many are in the process of reformation in order to accommodate wheelchairs. These schools will also be happy to discuss arrangements for children with learning difficulties or suggest alternative private schools in the region that can better accommodate individual needs.

Special needs facilities for children with learning difficulties or physical disabilities in Brazil are limited compared to other developed countries. While there are facilities at both public and private level they are more easily available in the larger cities such as São Paulo, than remote, rural areas.

Brazilian law states that the integration of children with physical or mental disabilities into state schools is a constitutional right. The provision of special needs education is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education, the state, and of some municipalities.

Facilities exist for those with physical or mental disabilities, as well as for those with learning difficulties such as dyslexia (for children and adults). However, most only provide information and assistance in Portuguese.

Dyslexia, ADD and ADHD

A 2007 law determined that each state should provide funds for the identification and treatment of dyslexia. However, São Paulo state has challenged this ruling, arguing that this is and should already be catered for by the public health service and not public education as it creates a duplication of roles, becoming costly.

There is little or no provision for the identification or treatment of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in state schools.

State assistance for children

This assistance is intended for families of children with dyslexia with very limited incomes.

Families in this category can apply for social and economic assistance (Atendimento Sõcio-Economico) if they provide:

  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of a deficiency from either the current school or from the Brazilian Dyslexia Association (Associação Brasileira de Dislexia - ABD)
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of monthly income and expenditure (utility bills)

These cases will be assessed by the Centre for Social Assistance and Dyslexia Research (Centro de Atendimento Social e Pesquisa da ABD - CASP).

  • For further information from the Brazilian Dyslexia Association: Click here (in Portuguese)
Special Needs Education for Foreigners

St Nicholas School in São Paulo has a Special Educational Needs department to provide extra support to children with learning difficulties, with an aim to integrate them as much as possible into the mainstream curriculum.

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