How Should Educators Be Trained to Teach Special Needs Children?

Educating special needs students can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Educators who work with children with learning disabilities need to be specially trained to know how to handle particular situations and personalities. People who work with or are responsible for teaching special needs children need to first understand the different learning disabilities, attention deficits, developmental delays, behavior problems, and other distinctive disorders that each child may suffer from. The degree of disability of each student varies but could include severe difficulties such as dyslexia, autism, and multiple disabilities.

It’s helpful for educators to develop a clinical eye towards all students and learn how to apply special teaching techniques to reach each student. Each student has different symptoms and needs and therefore teaching special needs should be customized and developed to meet each student’s needs. The first step to ensuring this approach is to develop an educational plan that is designed and modified to fit the individual based on their weaknesses.

Educating special needs students requires patience, an understanding of the medical conditions that have an effect on learning disabled children, as well as an understanding of the federal laws of education. This is all vital to being a positive influence and great help in teaching special needs children. You need a solid foundation of knowledge relating to students with learning disabilities first in order to effectively help teach them. Beyond this, an understanding of the federal laws that apply to education such as IDEA, No Child Left Behind (NCLB), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitations Act of 1973, along with other classroom and curriculum accommodations to manage learning.

When working with special needs children, it’s helpful if teachers know how to diagnose different learning disabilities. Teachers should learn about all of the different types of learning disabilities and know how to recognize symptoms. Beyond learning disabilities, behavior problems can be very disruptive in the classroom. Behavior problems need to be approached in the same way as learning disabilities. It’s important for educators to completely understand all of the different types of behavior problems. There are ways to help improve behavior problems once you understand the difference in each type.

One of the more serious learning disabilities is autism. This disorder is different from many of the other developmental disorders that some students may have. Once educators understand the disorders it’s necessary to know how the disorders are appropriately medicated. However, medication should not be the only method used to solve any problems with special needs children. In order to properly help and handle special needs students, an educator needs the help of parents, school administrators, special care providers and support staff, other teachers, and aides and paraprofessionals. Partnerships and collaborations are really key to effectively supporting and improving the lives of special needs students. To go beyond just educating special needs children, you need to create an environment where the student will feel comfortable and cared for. A lot of work and care goes into teaching special needs but the results of truly being able to help improve and educate special needs children can be extremely rewarding.

What Are the 13 Categories of Disability For Special Education Eligibility?

Does your child struggle with academics, and you are concerned that they may have a disability? Have you been told by special education personnel that your child does not fit any of the 13 eligibility classifications to receive special education services? This article will discuss the 13 classifications of disability, that are covered in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and make a child eligible for special education services. Whether a certain child is eligible is up to the parent and the IEP team, but having a disability in one of the 13 categories is required in order to be found eligible.

The categories are:

1. Autism: A developmental disability that can affect the verbal and nonverbal communication, social interaction, and can have a negative affect on the child’s education. The prevalence of autism is 1 in 150 as determined by the CDC or Center for Disease Control.

2. Other Health Impaired (OHI): The child exhibits limited strength, alertness, due to chronic or acute health problems, including but not limited to asthma, ADD/ADHD, cancer, diabetes, which negatively affects the child’s education.

3. Mental Retardation: Defined as significantly below average general functioning, with deficits in adaptive behavior, which negatively affects the child’s education.

4. Emotional Disturbance (ED): Exhibits one of the following conditions over an extended period of time and these conditions negatively effect a child’s education. An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory or health factors. For a child to be ED they are not supposed to have any other type of disability negative affecting their education.

5. Deafness: Residual hearing is severely impaired in processing the spoken word, negatively affecting the child’s education.

6. Hearing Impairment: Exhibits a hearing loss that is permanent or fluctuating, which even with amplification negatively affects the child’s education.

7. Visual Impairment: Impairment is such that educational potential cannot be fulfilled without special services and materials.

8. Deaf-Blindness: Child has both hearing and visual disabilities.

9. Specific Learning Disability (LD): Exhibits a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological process (such as visual, motor, language etc) which negatively affects a child’s education.

10. Multiple Disabilities: The child exhibits two or more severe disabilities, one of which is mental retardation.

11. Orthopedic Impairment: Displays severe impairments that are the result of congenital anomaly, developmental, or other causes (such as CP) which negatively affects the child’s education.

12. Speech or Language Impairment: Exhibits a communication disorder, such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a receptive and/or expressive language disorder, that negatively affects the child’s education.

13. Traumatic Brain Injury: The child has an injury to their brain resulting in total or partial functional disability.

By knowing what categories are covered under IDEA you will be able to understand if your child has a disability that makes them eligible for special education services. You are the only advocate that your child has-do not let them down!

Sufficient Impacts on the History of Special Education

Special Education, over the years, has grown and improved substantially. The history of it contains many admirable historical figures and events that have defined and impacted Special Education. I, however, picked 4 people and one event that I thought had a great impact on Special education. Without these people, special education would not be where it is today. I believe Jean Itard, Edouard Seguin, Helen Keller, Samuel Howe and the Brown Vs. Board of Education, were all important highlights in the history of Special Ed. Although they are not the only ones that should be commended for doing an outstanding job in improving the status of Special Ed, education would not progress as much without them.

Jean Itard is perhaps best defined as “the Father of Special Education” Although he was not aware that his work would have been defined as Special education, his work had a profound effect on future generations. Itard was educated to be a tradesman. However, during the French Revolution, he joined the army to become an assistant surgeon. After the war, he took upon a new and challenging project called Victor. Victor was a wild, animal- like boy that was found running around in the forest. In 1800 he was bought to Paris for observation. When Itard saw the wild, uncivilized boy, he assumed that he had been recently abandoned by his parents. Like a wild animal that does not like to be caged, Victor escaped a couple of times from a widow’s bedroom window. He was normally deficient, but Itard believed he could educate the boy through experience. During Itard’s time, it was a common belief that mentally disabled people were uneducable. The remarkable guru spent five years trying to “cure” him. After 5 years, Victor could read and speak a few words, and could also show affection towards his caretakers. Unfortunately, he never reached normality. Itard thought he had failed as a teacher, but his experience with Victor taught others that in order to achieve the smallest success, he had to accept Victor as a person. His work implemented the most important truth of all, and that was that education had to be in harmony with the dynamic nature of life. 

The next important historical figure was not a teacher, but a remarkable student. Helen Keller had an illness which left her blind and deaf. As a young child, she suffered through severe retardation. She made animal like sounds, ripped her clothes off, and was not toilet trained. It was apparent that she lacked civilized traits. Many years later, even she said “I was an animal.” Poor Helen had become a very difficult child. She terrorized the house hold, and often endangered the people in it. The Kellers were advised to visit an expert on deaf children. This was the well known Alexander Graham Bell. Bell suggested that the family seek an instructor from Perkins University.

On March 3rd, 1883, she met her teacher and caretaker, Miss Anne Sullivan. During the first meeting of theirs, Anne spelled out the word d-o-l-l on her arm. After writing the word on her arm, Anne gave Helen a doll, to show her what “doll” was. The next word she was spelled out was “cake” Although she could quickly repeat the same finger movements, Helen never really understood what the words meant. While Anne was struggling to help her understand the meaning of a word, she also was struggling to try to control Helen’s undesirable behavior. Making her educated and civilized was a great challenge for Anne. After a month, her behavior did improve. It was that initial month that the bond between Anne and Helen was established. After that month was the time that people referred to as the “miracle. It was not until 1887, that Helen began to grasp an understanding of the words. Anne pumped water on to Helen’s hand, and spelled out the word on her hand. Something about this activity helped Helen understand the meaning of the words.. Helen progressed as an individual over the years.

The life that she lived has had an impact on teaching methods, as well as technology. With the aid of Anne, through her writing, lectures, and the way she lived life, she has shown people that being disabled is not the end of the world. Her impact on education can be shown through this quote of hers: “The public must learn that the blind man is neither genus nor a freak nor an idiot. He has a mind that can be educated, a hand which can be trained…”

Special Education Has Changed Over Time

Special education has been assisting students with learning disabilities in the United States education system since the end of World War II. The first push for special education started when a group of parent-organized advocacy groups surfaced. In 1947 one of the first organizations, the American Association on Mental Deficiency, held its first convention. That marked a starting point for special education as we know it today.

Started during the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1950s, the United Cerebral Palsy Association, the Muscular Dystrophy Association, and John F. Kennedy’s Panel on Mental Retardation were among an increased amount of advocacy groups for assisted learning programs. This strong push helped bring special education into schools across the country in the 1960’s as school access was established for children with disabilities at state and local levels.

The parent advocacy groups dating back to 1947 laid the ground floor for government legislation being approved by Congress in 1975 that was called the “Education for All Handicapped Children Act” (Public Law 94-142). This act went into effect in October of 1977 and it was the beginning for federal funding of special education in schools nationwide. The act required public schools to offer “free appropriate public education” to students with a wide range of disabilities, including “physical handicaps, mental retardation, speech, vision and language problems, emotional and behavioral problems, and other learning disorders.”

The law from 1977 was extended in 1983 to offer parent training and information centers. Later in 1986 the government started programs targeting youngsters with potential learning disabilities. The Act from 1975 was changed to the “Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (IDEA) in 1990. Since establishment of IDEA more than 6.5 million children and 200,000+ toddlers and infants are being assisted each year.

Special education in schools often unintentionally overlooks a key aspect of why students suffer from learning disabilities. The reasons for common learning disabilities are weak cognitive skills. Studies show that 80% of students enrolled in special education at some level suffer from underlying weak cognitive skills. Cognitive skills are the mental capabilities that one needs to successfully learn academic subjects. In more detail cognitive skills are learning skills used to retain information; process, analyze, and store facts and feelings; and create mental pictures, read words, and understand concepts. They are not to be confused with academic skills which would include subjects like math, science, or history.

Proper testing to identify these weak cognitive skills will help quality learning centers put together a plan of action to strengthen them. This sort of training will last a lifetime. By not targeting the cognitive skills a student will struggle for the rest of their life until they are trained properly. It is highly recommended that you get your child tested at a learning training center that provides cognitive testing. Once tested a personal, unique training program can be developed for your child to overcome their learning disability.

Special Education

Special education refers to unconventional education services designed to cater to the needs of individuals suffering from physical and mental drawbacks such as physical handicaps, sensory (visual and hearing) impairments, intellectual capacity (mental retardation and autism), learning disabilities (reading and writing skills), speech impairment and those with behavior disorders. It seeks to address problems of the individual, as well as provide effective solutions through a set of formulated instructions, service aids and supports, learning techniques and transitions services.

The goal of special education is to address the needs of these special individuals (children, youth and adults) and ensure that they gain equal access to quality education regardless of their condition. In effect, it encourages them to keep up with the challenges of normal education and help improve their chances for success in life.

Specialized method of education

The primary focus of this special type of education is to provide support and learning techniques to the individual. Children are properly educated in the most learning-conducive environment to help them discover their in-depth skills and abilities hidden behind the disabilities they might have.

But not everyone can employ this educational service. As such, before the person can avail of it, different levels of evaluations must take place. The processes can vary, though the primary stages include referral, parental consent, child evaluation and review and recommendation of appropriate institutionalized methods.

An afterthought…

In today’s society there are more than 6 million children and youth estimated to be suffering from disabilities, and the demand for special education has grown by leaps and bounds. By properly dealing with the issues and problems concerned and finding solutions, special education can give them the chance to stand up and be on equal footing with their peers, drawing out their true potentials as key movers and prime contributors to society regardless of their physical and mental difficulties.