Education has its many forms and part of these are the types of special education in the society which put into consideration the fact that some set of children of humans cannot be, even as they cannot afford to be, deprived of education. Education undoubtedly is a necessity just as the air man breathe in and out is. So, there is not one society that will ever endure the need to leave a stone unturned by neglecting a certain kind or group of human beings, especially for their inabilities, in its policy of educating all and sundry. Thus, the importance of special education.
It is following this notion of the values of special education that this educational programme is called by its several names or identfied with different terms such as special-needs education, aided education, exceptional education, alternative provision, exceptional student education, special ed., SEN, or SPED, etc.
What then is Special Education?
Special education is the practice of educating students in schools in a way that accommodates their individual differences, disabilities, and special needs. Ideally, this process involves the individually planned and systematically monitored arrangement of teaching procedures, adapted equipment and materials, and accessible settings. The major reason for the creation of this type of education is take care of those persons who are one way or the other born disabled or naturally suffering from some biological deprivations and so they cannot act as normal human beings physically or interactively. Examples of such individuals with the disabilities that need special attention like special education are people who are blinded, mentally retarded, deaf, dumb, etc.
In essence, the special needs education (SPNED) is designed to help individuals with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and in their community, which may not be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education. Hence, its basic focus is on how to providing solutions to some of the learning complexities or difficulties that are possibly faced by disabled individuals or children with special needs.
What Does the Law Say About the Education of the Disabled Child?
- Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) — a public education at no cost to parents/guardians or children designed to meet the individual needs of each student, provide access to the general education curriculum, provides services in accordance to a student’s IEP, and results in an educational benefit to the child.
- Nondiscriminatory Identification and Evaluation — refers to the process and instruments used to identify individuals with a disability. Schools are required to use nonbiased methods as well as multiple approaches in the evaluation process to ensure that there is no discrimination on the basis of race, culture, or native language. All evaluation instruments must use the child’s first language. No identification or placement decisions may be based on a single evaluation instrument or test score.
- Individualized education program (IEP) — this document is the foundation of special education and specifically describes the services to be provided to the student with a disability. The IEP includes a description of a student’s current level of educational performance, information on how his or her disability influences academic performance, and details needed adaptations and accommodations. This document also specifies the educational settings in which the student will receive instruction in the least restrictive environment, the learning goals and objectives that will be addressed within a targeted year, behavior management plan (if needed), transportation needs, and related services.
- Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) — this indicates the educational settings in which a student with a disability receives special education services. The assumption is that all children will be educated alongside their peers without disabilities, to the greatest extent appropriate. It is only when it is determined that a student’s education cannot be achieved satisfactorily using supplemental aids and services in general classroom settings that alternative educational settings would be identified. At that time, the LRE might include special education services received part- or full-time in a resource room setting, a self-contained classroom setting, and/or community-based settings.
- Parent Participation — parents of a child with a disability must be a member of any group that makes decisions regarding the placement and LRE of their child. Parents have a right to notification of all meetings regarding their child’s placement, access to planning and evaluation materials, and notification of any planned evaluations. Both parents and students must be invited to attend IEP meetings.
- Due Process Safeguards — these include the protections afforded to children and their parents under IDEA. Safeguards include: obtaining parental consent for all evaluations and educational placement decisions, confidentiality of all records relating to a child with a disability, independent student evaluation at public expense, and due process hearings when the school and parent may disagree.
Types of Special Education in the Society.
Does this special programme then have types or forms? I would say yes to your question because the world as wide it is contains different categories of people with disabilities and each of them require different conventional methods of teaching/learning. This is the more reason why we will be looking into the various types of special education in the society:
1. Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP)
An Individualized Family Service Plan, IFSP, is one of the types of special education in the society that can be termed as early intervention program to help with the needs of families with children from birth to age 3 who have disabilities. The goal is to help prepare children to learn in school. The state-mandated IFSP starts with the collection of information about the child’s living environment and how it affects his or her development.
A team of professionals that will conduct the tests and monitor progress may include a special education teacher, a district employee familiar with special needs assessments, a resource specialist, a physical therapist, a social worker, a psychologist, one or both parents, and a legal representative secured by the family. They will make determinations based on the child’s abilities in the following areas:
- Physical and developmental state
- Communication skills
- Home environment
- Ability to cope within the home environment
- Potential need for adaptive devices to improve physical function
- Potential need for communication devices
- Availability of local therapy and service programs
The final IFSP will include, in writing, a list of the services that will be provided such as physical therapy, behavioral counseling, recreation services, family counseling, referrals to social services for financial assistance. In addition, it will outline the following:
- A timeline for results
- Who will provide and pay for the services
- The number of sessions that a child will receive for specific services
- All desired and expected outcomes
The assessment will also determine the nature of a child’s development in the following areas:
- Physical/motor ability
- Sensory perception
- Communication skills
- Social development
- Psychological development
A multi-disciplinary team will address strengths and weaknesses of a family as they relate to a child’s development. They include:
- Level of development
- Medical condition
- A statement of goals
- An outline of support skills
- A timeline for services to come into place
The IFSP is revisited every six months, or sooner if additional reinforcements are needed. The IFSP also includes a transition step that should be implemented prior to a child’s third birthday. The goal is to help the child make a seamless conversion into a school environment.
Families who disagree with the determinations of their child’s IFSP can appeal.
2. Independent Education Evaluation (IEE)
This as one of the types of special education in the society supports the fact that any school-aged child starting at age 3 who is suspected of having a learning challenge may get an Independent Education Evaluation, IEE, as part of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, or IDEA. The purpose of an IEE is to identify potential learning barriers and determine what, if any, special education programming will remove those barriers.
An IEE evaluation includes a physical and written examination of the following skills:
- Intellectual aptitude
- Social capabilities
- Psychological/behavioral health
- Speech/language skills
- Physical abilities
- Occupational abilities
Some portions of the test require parent participation that includes their impressions of the child’s strengths and weaknesses in the learning environment and at home. They may also be asked to provide medical documents and school records. Results of this comprehensive assessment will help educators and parents determine whether a conventional classroom, special education classroom, or combination of both, will be most beneficial for the child to maximize learning potential.
3. Individualized Education Program (IEP)
The Individualized Education Program, IEP, is an important step in determining the best course to educate a child with learning challenges. It is a state-mandated program for all students who qualify for special education services. It includes step-by-step guidelines that outline a child’s strengths and challenges versus what will be required to make sure that a child receives the Free and Appropriate Education required by law. The intention is to even the scales between what is taught to able-bodied students and their counterparts with special needs.
A team of professionals along with the child’s parents will devise a blueprint that will direct how services will be utilized to benefit a child based on his or her needs. They must address communication skills, physical and functional skills, social abilities, psychological health and developmental abilities.
The guidelines will hone in on the following:
- Physical and developmental challenges
- Present level of academic skills
- Methods to measure progress
- Type of classrooms – mainstream, self-contained, or a combination of both – most able to meet a child’s learning needs
- Frequency and duration of academic services, and related services
- Timeline for all educational goals
- Methods of instruction
- Assistance needed to maximize educational efforts
- Accommodations needed (preferential seating, modified assignments or revised work due dates)
- Technologies that can help
- Available transportation services
- Steps to ensure a child’s education is meaningful and appropriate
- How state-required assessments will be administered
- Transitional measures necessary after a student completes high school
Service that are not associated with a child’s education, but are directly linked to his or her ability to be successful in school may also be provided. They include:
- Physical therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Speech and language pathology
- Limited medical services and support
- Psychological counseling
- Recreation services
- Mobility services
The IEP offers many benefits to children with learning challenges. Among them is that they receive a tailored plan that addresses individual needs, provides goals and objectives, creates a supportive learning environment and gives parents a voice in the process. As a child progresses, the IEP can be revised.
The IEP team that will follow the child’s progress may include a special education teacher, a special needs resources specialist, an instructional specialist, a social worker, a parent and a student, if he or she is at least 14 years of age. Therapists, tutors and paraprofessionals may also be asked to participate.
Parents are also given the opportunity to involve others who can shed light on a child’s abilities. This might include independent therapists or physicians, child advocates, and attorneys.
4. Individualized Health Plan (IHP)
Another one of the types of special education in the society is the Individualized Health Plan. Every student with a health or physical impairment should have an Individual Health Plan – documents that detail their needs and the services to be provided by educators and other service officials in the special education department.
The first step is to talk with school officials about the child’s special circumstances, ideally two to three months prior to the start of kindergarten. The written plan should be a collaboration of parents, educators and the child’s health care provider.
It should address the following issues in relationship to the child’s needs:
- Academic and social community
- Environmental controls (air quality, elimination of irritants, allergen and toxins)
- Establishment of a plan for ongoing teamwork, communication and evaluation
- Family and school concerns
- Guidelines that promote a student’s health and educational goals
- Individualized crisis and emergency management
- Personal fitness goals (safe participation in physical education, sports, field trips and other special events
- Physical, social, emotional and academic goals
- Roles and responsibilities of all parties involved
- Staff training
- Timely distribution of medications
Parents and educators agree that an IHP is essential to achieving educational equality for all students with health management needs, whether or not the student is eligible for special education.
5. Individualized Transition Plan (ITP)
An Individualized Transition Plan, or ITP, is a comprehensive plan designed to help children with disabilities make a smooth conversion from childhood to adulthood.
ITPs are helpful in determining what supports and activities a child will need to be able to live as independently as possible. It allows students to set goals for their futures that could include college, vocational training, working, or finding assisted living environments.
The ITP is developed by the student’s IEP team when he or she is 14 to 16 years of age and can follow that student until he or she reaches 22 to 26 years of age, depending on state’s age requirements for school-based services.
Like other school programs, ITP focus on a person’s strengths and weakness, and decide how the education system can help fill any gaps. It identifies the types of support that person will need to attain at least some independence. Students participate in the process by sharing their dreams and goals for the future.
The ITP also considers a student’s medical needs and aptitude for continued education and/or employment. It identifies supports that will be in place when that student reaches adulthood.
Factors that go into determining how to best achieve realistic goals are challenges at school and home, related services that will be required during adulthood, available services that are presently made available by family, specific goals and interests, ability to advocate on their own behalf and social skills.
The plan outlines the student’s goals and a path to reach them, potential community support services, income or access to income, planned living arrangements, available community activities, and availability of transportation.
Assistance to achieve their goal will include vocational training, independent employment assistance, supported employment, adult education training, adult supportive services, post-secondary education and college prep planning.
To learn more about a young person’s skill levels, a comprehensive assessment will measure the following factors:
- Ability to carry out daily tasks
- Ability to solve problems
- The student’s social acumen
- Physical, psychological, and developmental functioning as it applies to school or work
- Vocational factors (supported employment versus conventional employment)
- The need for support (PCAs or assistants)
- Ability to communicate by speaking, signing, using devices, email or instant messaging
- Ability to drive or use mass transit
All of these issues in special education will help the ITP team chart a path to help a child reach his or her individual goals, whether it is attending trade school, going to college, or pursuing employment.
Additionally, an ITP will help identify solutions to obstacles that interfere with a child’s goals by continually assessing a child as he or she makes the many smaller transitions that produce well-rounded, healthy, independent adults.
Life skills – or the ability to manage one’s life by handling tasks such as self-care, cooking, managing a household, getting to and from work or school, and paying bills – are also addressed to help ensure a young adult can function after high school. The life lessons may be taught through government supported programs, community organizations, hospitals and medical centers, or nonprofit agencies.
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