Special education is primarily for children and students with special needs and addresses those needs individually taking their differences into account. The process is very different from mainstream education and involves systematic monitoring of teachers and their teaching procedure. Other factors that need to be taken into account are things like adapting equipment and materials, accessibility and other tools designed specifically to help learners with special needs. The idea is to help these learners achieve a higher level of self-sufficiency in the community that mainstream learners take for granted.
Special needs categories
Learning disability – This has nothing to do with intelligence levels, students with learning disabilities have problems carrying out specific types of tasks or learning particular skills required to carry out those tasks. The major problem in this category is that there is a disorder in the brain which affects its ability to receive and process information.Emotional and behavioral disorders – Commonly known as EBD in profession, this is a broad category disorder which children and adolescents. It has been labelled “broad category” because the observed behavior of EBD sufferers depends on a lot of factors. More often than not EBD students may suffer from other disabilities such as autism, Rett syndrome, Asperger syndrome, PDD, PDD-NOS and ADHD.Developmental disability – This term is used in the US to refer to disabilities affecting daily life in 3 or more of the following areas; ability to live independently, learning, mobility, economic self-sufficiency, self-care, self-direction and language skills (receptive and expressive). People with developmental disabilities are those who are mentally retarded or suffer from cerebral palsy, genetic and chromosomal disorders such as Down syndrome, Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders and autism spectral disorders.
History of Special Education in US
Civitan International has over 40,000 members in around 1,000 clubs all over the world. Founded by Courtney Shropshire and other businessmen from the local Rotary Club in Birmingham Alabama, the civitans were the first to provide broad-based teacher training to teachers who taught children with developmental disorders in the early 1950s. During the civil rights period of the 1960s some researchers turned their attention to the disparity of education amongst people with physical disabilities.
Students with special needs were still not allowed to enroll in regular public schools until the federal government passed the “Education for all Handicapped Children Act in 1975. After revising it a couple of times, the act finally adopted the name we have today, IDEA; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. IDEA opened the floodgates to providing education to millions of students who had previously been denied this right. The department of Education estimates that roughly 6 million children, which accounts for approximately 10 per cent of all school-aged children, are in receipt of special education in the US today.
Special education programs
Education for students with special needs, those who require additional time and resources to learn the same material, requires frequent changes to the curriculum. All successful special education programs have one thing in common; to utilize the child’s time in concentrating on high-priority skills. In this way the child is not frustrated by having to learn advanced skills that are beyond his capabilities. Most students with special needs are best helped by introducing changes to the method of instruction rather than the information or the skills being taught.