Special Education

Special Education

Special education is for students with special needs. It aims to meet these needs and work with the differences of each individual student. Depending on the student’s ability certain environments, equipment and teaching methods must be utilized to ensure that the student is receiving the best education possible.


There are 2 major challenges when working in special education. The challenges are deciding who should receive special education and then meeting the individual needs of all the participants. Generally speaking, figuring out who is eligible for special education is not difficult. It is simply a case of looking at the individual’s medical history. If they have a developmental disorder, brain damage, have been diagnosed with a genetic condition associated with mental retardation, or have hearing or visual disabilities, they will qualify for special education. However, where it becomes difficult is when the individual has a learning disability. Learning disabilities generally don’t make themselves apparent until the individual is in school and it has become obvious, usually through testing, that a learning disability is present. There are 2 models used to determine whether an individual has a learning disability or not. There is the response to intervention model and the discrepancy model. The later of the 2 being the most widely used.

Specail Education2The second biggest challenge in special education is creating a curriculum that suits the needs of everyone. As shown earlier, there are many different individuals with differing abilities finding themselves in a special needs classroom. A student who is deaf will have different needs than one who has a developmental disorder and is confined to a wheelchair. One of the biggest critiques of the special education program, as it is today, is that the curriculum ends up being watered down. The mix of students is believed to be one reason for this while funding is also seen as an issue. If there were more resources available, the students would be receiving a better education (i.e. one that works for them).

Provision Methods

There are 4 main methods of provision in special education. They are: mainstreaming, inclusion, exclusion and segregation. These methods are based around the amount of engagement the students with differing abilities have with non-disabled students.

In the mainstreaming method, disabled students spend most of their day with fellow disabled students. However, they will have classes with non-disabled students. The classes they take with non-disabled students varies and depends on what skills they are found to have.

In the inclusion method, disabled children spend more than half their day with non-disabled children. Generally, in these cases, the student will have only mild to moderate special needs, as this will mean less modification to the curriculum that is in place. Again, this comes down to the funding that is available.
The exclusion method is generally seen as the old style method, where the child with special needs does not attend school at all. Nowadays, a child with disabilities will not be excluded from going to school simply on the grounds of being disabled. If the child is part of the criminal justice system, is bed stricken at home, or is hospitalized they are considered part of the exclusion method.

In the segregation method, students with moderate to high special needs are in classrooms with only other children with disabilities. Here, the curriculum is based solely around the needs of these children.

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Individual Education Program

In the United States an Act was passed that’s called, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. This act required that all students with special needs receive a free public education that meets their needs and is as least restrictive for the student, as possible. As a result of this act, each student receives an Individual Education Program. This means that each students’ needs are being assessed and the appropriate curriculum is being created, taught and maintained for them.

Key Points

In this article, we looked at the 2 main challenges seen in special education: determining who is eligible and meeting the specific needs of the individual. The article also looked at the 4 common provision methods offered to students with special needs (inclusion, exclusion, mainstreaming and segregation). Finally, the article looked at the United States and their Individual Education Program that was put into place as the result of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.