Montlake Elementary

Special Education

Special Education: Access Services

Special Education Information

Montlake Elementary is proud to offer an Access program, which has many benefits for the entire school community.


Montlake’s commitment to inclusive education means that all students are full members of their classrooms and the wider school community. Each child at Montlake is provided with varied, meaningful opportunities to learn at their level and make progress academically, socially and behaviorally while achieving the highest possible level of independence. For students on the autism spectrum and beyond, the Access program at Montlake provides a variety of individualized supports designed to meet each child’s needs on his or her own educational journey.

Program Design

Our special education teacher for the Access program at Montlake oversees instructional assistants (3 full-time) who provide support in the general education classroom. Access students spend as much time in the general education environment as possible. Depending on individual need, some students are pulled out for specialized academic instruction, speech services and/or occupational/physical therapy. When possible and appropriate, this specialized instruction is given in the general education classroom. The special education room (P3) serves as a place for pull-out academic instruction, a place to take breaks and interact socially, and a cool-down place for escalated students.

In the general education classrooms, students are provided with individualized supports, accommodations, and modifications to help them succeed. These supports can include schedules, checklists, incentive systems, social stories, peer buddies, organizer notebooks, AlphaSmarts, scribes, instructional assistant prompting, and modified assignments.

Access at Montlake means:

  • Individualized service
  • Promoting students to be independent and cue to their general education teacher
  • Providing specially designed instruction, modifications and accommodations to support student learning in all areas in the general education environment
  • Collaboration between general educators, special educators, and parents who respect each other’s expertise and differences
  • Full participation and membership in general education classrooms
  • Teaching students with autism to “fit in” while also teaching other students to accept differences.

Access at Montlake is not: “One-size-fits-all”

  • It is not an all-day, one-on-one assistant with a student or classroom
  • It does not expect that all students learn exactly the same thing exactly the same way at exactly the same pace
  • It is not telling anyone how to teach or what to do
  • It is not self-contained classroom with “visits” to general education classrooms
  • It does not permit students to be inappropriate because of their disability, nor forcing them to be exactly like everyone else

Benefits of Access

For children with special needs:

  • affords a sense of belonging and membership
  • provides a diverse, stimulating environment in which to learn
  • enables friendship development with typical peers
  • enhances self-esteem
  • students not stigmatized by labels or being in a special class
  • provides peer models
  • natural opportunities to practice social and language skills
  • access to general education curriculum

For typically developing students:

  • provides opportunities to experience the diversity of society on a small scale
  • greater acceptance of differences and sensitivity towards others
  • understanding of the strengths and weaknesses we all have
  • increases abilities to help and teach all classmates
  • develops empathy
  • provides a diverse pool of classmates from which to make friends

For teachers:

  • furthers appreciation of diversity
  • increases ways of creatively addressing challenges
  • develops collaborative problem
  • solving skills and teamwork
  • allows general and special education teachers to better understand each others’ curriculum and methods
  • increases communication between teachers and builds community
  • presence of special education staff benefits all children in the class
  • combats monotony

An Overview of Special Ed Services provided by Seattle Public Schools.