Special education is a form of schooling that provides additional support for students with disabilities or special needs. Special educational programs, also called SEND programs, are designed to help children and adults who have what educators call 'special needs.' The definition of what constitutes a special need varies from country to country and even school district to school district.
We will explore what these terms mean, as well as some major misconceptions about what the term 'special education' entails.
What is special education?
There are three main categories of what is considered to be a 'special need'. The first and most widely recognised as the term implies, refers to children with disabilities. These disabilities can range from what would be classified in the United Kingdom as an intellectual disability, such as Down's Syndrome, to physical immobility, to learning disabilities such as dyslexia.
The second category refers to children with 'gifted' abilities, such as mathematical or artistic prodigies. These students may require more challenges than their peers. The third and final group in special education needs includes social, emotional, or behavioural difficulties, such as having an autism spectrum disorder.
It is the job of special education workers to help these students reach their maximum potential. This includes providing individualized instruction, accommodations, and modifications to help students with special needs succeed in school.
Special education is important because it provides what are called 'least restrictive environments.' This means that children who may be challenged or disabled by their abilities will not have any unnecessary obstructions placed before them – they can learn in the same classroom as everyone else without having to worry about what their peers are doing.
What are some examples of special education?
There are many different methods and types of special education. For example, some students may need what are called 'modifications' or changes to what they are being taught so that they can understand their lessons more easily.
Another example would be providing what are known as age-appropriate accommodations – giving children with disabilities an opportunity to learn the same curriculum at the same pace and depth as their peers.
A student with extensive special needs may need to attend a school dedicated to students who have similar needs. For instance, a student that has autism and ADHD could be placed in an inclusion classroom when they first begin attending school so that they can learn how to interact within the general population, without having too much difficulty with their actions.
There is a wide array of special education services that can be provided, depending on the child's individual needs and abilities. Some examples include occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, vision or hearing services in addition to medical/nursing therapies such as meals through tubes, or insulin injections for students who have diabetes.
The type of education a child receives will vary depending on their individual needs and abilities. Also, the laws in place for your state or country determine what services you can offer to students with special educational needs.
There is an endless list of disabilities that might need extra help from the school system; this post has only scratched the surface.
Short summary on what is special education
To recap, special education is an individual form of education that supports students to meet their targets and achieve their dreams at school. For more information, please revisit this blog every month.