My son has been attending this school for the past two years. So far he has been doing great. The staff is responsive and helpful. I believe that they take the best interest of the child at hand. Is hassle having to commute from Pasadena to Sherman Oaks but, the alternatives, are not the great either considering that my son's school district special education program has been on improvement needed for years. I had another child that attended one of The Help Group schools and the experience has been excellent and positive. There is always room for improvement but nothing that would preclude me from sending my child there. He is learning, he is happy and I am satisfied with their services.
My son attended VG for K - 7th Grade. Compared to a public school, it's the lesser or two not so greats. First & foremost VG is a business. They pushed me to medicate my son, so that he would be easier for them to handle. They don't care about working on behaviors, only academics. Many times I felt like calling and saying "you do know you are a school for children with special needs, don't you?" They send out letters asking for Large donations. They have the children perform at pricey fundraisers. They ask parents to provide all supplies for the ENTIRE classroom. Like I said they are a business, and I have no doubt someone up at the top is making money off The Help Group Schools. There are a lot of things that go on at this school that are just not right. They don't mistreat the children (except for the pushing of unnecessary medication) but they are not really there for them either. A lot of turnover with teachers, and no one seems to communicate with each other. I had a teacher, a therapist and the vice principal all tell me completely different things about how my son was doing, on the same day! That was the final straw for us.
There are pros and cons to this school. It's been a blessing for my son, who was bullied in school because he didn't fit in, and I find the administration and most teachers care about my son's well being as well as his education. However, I find it's too much for them to keep track of the many different IEP's and put them into place in the classroom. It takes constant reminders to get things set up such as use of a computer for writing, or implementing writing assist programs, all that have been approved but never implemented. It takes perseverance by the parent. I do like the administration as a whole, with exception to just one. The school uses the ABA approach firmly, and would benefit from a combined approach to allow for diversity acceptance. All in all it's been a good experience. Better than we could get for our high functioning autistic child in the public schools in our area
Current Student: I have been at this school for 3 years and all i have to say is, its not a good place to go. The school has far to many flaws in how the administration works, at the same time as its a hassle to get there and back! If your child has high functioning autism or aspergers i would suggest a homeschooling program. The teachers are amazing, as all can be. But the Administration are quite disgusting to be frank, I recommend not to go to this school. Only as a last option.
There are good aspects to the program, but all in all we've been disappointed. We had thought our son would benefit from a school that understands kids learn in different ways and teach accordingly, however we've seen little in the way of creative teaching. Part of the problem may be that the school has many new teachers, with little practical experience. They do very well with social skills, and classes remain comparitively small, which are pluses. But generally, we haven't found the program to provide teaching methods any different (sometimes worse) than the public school.