What is special education?
Special Education is the design of teaching and learning strategies for individuals with disabilities or learning difficulties. Special education is also about understanding the different needs that students have, including the different types of disability and learning difficulties.
Who is special education for?
Special education is for students with special educational needs. These may be students who have a general difficulty with some part of their learning at school or who seem to have difficulty with all kinds of learning. They may be students with a particular disability, such as a hearing impairment, a vision impairment, a speech impairment, a physical impairment, or intellectual disability. They may be students with behaviour disorders, emotional problems or a medical condition of one kind or another. Their special need might be permanent or it might be temporary; this depends on the nature of the need and, to some extent, on what action is taken by their parents, teachers and other community members. Any student can have a special educational need at some time or another, and any student can develop a special need. This is why it is sometimes said that special education is for all students.
The nature of special needs:-
A disability is any condition that prevents, delays or interferes with a child’s normal achievement and development. A disability may be classified as one of the following:
• Developmental : Developmental disabilities involve cognitive functions which are much lower than average. Poor cognitive development usually prevents a person from functioning well in everyday life. Such deficiencies are obvious during a child’s life.
• Learning : A learning disability involves a disorder in understanding or using spoken or written language. A child with a learning disability may be unable to listen, think, speak, spell or do mathematical problems
• Physical: Educators who care for children with physical disabilities need to learn about each child’s special needs like freedom of movement, self help skills etc.
• Sensory: Vision and hearing problems fall into the category of sensory disabilities. Loss or impaired use of a sense greatly affects a child’s life and learning abilities, but does not necessarily impact their intelligence. With good support and education, they can adapt to their disabilities and live more fulfilling lives.
Our special education teacher use various techniques to promote learning. Depending on the requirement, teaching methods include:
- Concept development
- Conversation skills development
- Problem-solving techniques
- Responses to communication from others
- Self-help skills (eating, dressing, grooming)
- Social skills development
- Sound and gestures response
- Understanding space
- Visual perception
- Individualized Education Programs (IEPs)
An Individualized Education Program (commonly referred to as IEP) is a document, mandated by the IDEA, which clearly defines the individual goal and objectives set for a child with a disability. These programs are written documentation of the special education program and academic modifications required to meet the child’s individual needs. The two main purposes of a student’s IEP are to:
- Set reasonable learning goals for the student, and
- State the required services that the school district needs to provide for said child.
IEPs are developed by a team including the child’s teacher(s), parents, and supporting school staff. This team meets annually (at minimum) to assess the academic and developmental progress of the student, design appropriate educational plans, and adhere any changes if necessary. The main goal these reviews is to ensure that the child is receiving appropriate and adequate services within their least restrictive environment.