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Programs for the Severely Handicapped

Linda McKean
Asst. Superintendent, Special Services
Programs for the Severely Handicapped
(559) 730-2910, Ext. 5120
lmckean@tcoe.org


The Tulare County Office of Education (TCOE) offers educational services for severely handicapped students ages 3 through 21 from throughout Tulare County. Students attend school in special day classes located on school campuses throughout the county or in special centers located in Visalia, Tulare, Porterville and Yettem.

Programs for the Severely Handicapped There are nearly 60 "satellite" classes located on school campuses. Instruction in these special day classes for the severely handicapped is specially designed and takes place in the classroom, in other locations on the school campus and in various locations in the community. Curriculum follows California State Standards but is significantly modified to meet the individual needs of students who have mental retardation. Students interact with their typically developing peers to the maximum extent possible.

Students who are educated in one of the TCOE-operated special centers generally have multiple or profound disabilities and/or are able to function best in a more sheltered environment.

Needed services and support identified on a student's IEP are provided. These services include, but are not limited to:
  • Speech and Language
  • Audiological and hearing
  • Physical and Occupational therapy
  • Visually Handicapped
  • Assistive Technology
  • Psychological and counseling
How is a child enrolled?

Students are enrolled in satellite or center-based classes as a result of the decisions of the IEP team. Parents who believe their child should be enrolled in a TCOE-operated special day class may contact their local school district to request an assessment and possible referral to this program.

What else should I know?

Educational programs for severely handicapped students focus on life skills, academics, language development, vocational training and leisure skills.

Transition Services

Beginning at age 16, a major focus of the students' program is planning for life after the school years. Individual Transition Plans are written with the goal of identifying the areas of instruction that will be most helpful to preparing students for adult life. Vocational education focuses on teaching career awareness, planning vocational objectives, assessing and building upon job skills as necessary steps toward transition into competitive or sheltered employment. Some students participate in on-site job training and some students participate in a paid work program called WorkAbility.

For more information on vocational education and the WorkAbility program, contact Tammy Bradford at (559) 730-2910, ext.5128.

Movement Opportunities via Education (MOVE)®

MOVE is an integral part of the programs for the severely handicapped in Tulare County. The program helps children and young adults who have severe physical disabilities acquire increased independence in sitting, standing, and walking. As a result, they may gain greater mobility, better health and enhanced personal dignity.

If students are able to sit, stand or walk, the burden of care for families and other care providers is decreased, thereby bring new opportunities for fuller participation in family life, as well as integration and inclusion in the wider community.

For more information about the MOVE program, contact Sarah Hamilton at (559) 688-2868 Ext.6412.

Services for Severely Handicapped Students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders

Students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders and mental retardation may be served in TCOE programs for the severely handicapped. Curriculum is specially-designed - through the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process - and includes use of such methods as PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), visual strategies, and a variety of related services. For additional information on educational services to students who have Autism Spectrum Disorders, visit the SELPA Autism Resources website.



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Jim Vidak
County Superintendent of Schools


Tulare County Office of Education
2637 West Burrel
P.O. Box 5091
Visalia, CA 93278-5091
phone: (559) 733-6300
fax: (559) 627-5219
TTY (hearing impaired): (559) 733-6314


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