The education of a child with special needs is a huge subject that could fill several books, but we’ll just talk about the basics here today.
Recognizing a problem and defining it are, without a doubt, the most crucial aspects of special education. It’s easy to assume that a child has a minor issue if they make it to kindergarten without anyone noticing anything major. Sometimes, it actually is; we know of at least one child who was actually suffering from nearsightedness but was later diagnosed with profound ADHD; He wasn’t unable to concentrate; rather, he was trying to get a better look at the activities by moving around the classroom.)
The fact that many special-needs diagnoses are related to one another or have very similar symptoms makes the situation even more complicated. Even though it shares far more symptoms with mild autism than with any of the dys- conditions, ADHD is not associated with the autism spectrum, despite its strong correlation with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and several similar diseases. A child who doesn’t like to talk could be autistic, have apraxia, have social anxiety disorder, have a bad stutter, or be deaf and won’t hear you when you try to start a conversation. The point is that, regardless of their level of expertise, special educators will not be able to assist a child if they employ methods and tools that are not appropriate for the disorder in question.
“Remedial” does not apply to special needs.
The next thing to keep in mind is that “poor scholastic performance” and “special needs” are very different things. Although “special needs” can include scholastic affective disorders like dyslexia, it can also include teaching a brilliant but deaf student or a student with Asperger’s Syndrome who is an amazing mathematician and geographical wizard but has trouble understanding the fundamentals of social play and turn-taking. Despite this, remedial education and special needs education are two distinct subjects. Because being gifted is a special need, a good special needs program knows how to deal with gifted children and those who need remedial help. Every special education student must be taught to recognize their strengths.
In fact, children who are “twice exceptional” and require accommodation in both directions are given the special designation “2E” in special education. 2E refers to a girl who reads three grades above the rest of her class but also has severe ADHD and needs constant attention to stay on task. 2E refers to a boy who is dyscalculic and unable to perform mental arithmetic but is also a musical prodigy who masters new songs in days. These children are more prevalent than most people realize.
The Same is True at Home In case it’s not obvious, these two overarching principles also apply to all of your child’s homeschooling lessons. You are making a grave mistake if you refuse to acknowledge that your child is unique in comparison to the others or if you assume that the issue is one thing without seeking an expert diagnosis. In a similar vein, learning that your child has dyslexia or ADHD does not necessitate treating them as if they are less intelligent than a “normal” child; rather, they are just struggling with a problem that requires your assistance in overcoming.
Tools for Special Education The most extensive and extensive tools for special education are listed below, along with their relation to those principles:
The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is the foundation of modern special education. IEPs keep track of the child’s progress, provide information for future educators, and serve as a record-keeping device. Every IEP includes a record of every method and tool used to try to educate the child, as well as information about the child’s diagnosis and known expressions of it. Individualization and special education are not possible without an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
If your child has been diagnosed with a condition that places them in the “needs an IEP” category, you will be informed by their doctor and/or the specialists at their school. Even if a child receives and follows the prescribed dosage of a medication like Concerta or Adderall, some children with a given diagnosis still require extra effort. For instance, there are many children with ADHD who are able to attend mainstream schools without the need for an Individualized Education Program (IEP). Part of the process is determining whether a child can handle the school system “as-is” or needs a legitimate specialized education.
The Special Education Team and Room Managing a single child with special needs at home can be challenging; however, imagine managing six, eight, or fifteen students in a classroom setting! No teacher, no matter how experienced, can accurately predict how the students will interact. What will happen if the child with oppositional defiant disorder jumps up midway through an assignment because he decided that spinning around in a circle was more fun than adding, and while he is spinning, he accidentally smacks the child with ADHD in the back of the head?
Will she yell at the top of her lungs and make the autistic student afraid enough to use the bathroom? Will she attack the boy with ADHD, leaving him to wonder why he’s on the ground and bleeding from a cheek scratch? Or will she simply tip over her desk, sending the entire room into chaos?
Because of this, almost all special education classrooms have a “safe room” with noise insulation and padded walls where children can retreat when they know they can’t cope. Additionally, this is why each special educator comes equipped with a squadron of assistants. Some of them are specialized therapists, like an occupational therapist or speech pathologist; Others are “simply” additional educators who have received training to deal with full-classroom disruptions and maintain control.
Lessons to Take Away As a parent, you can gain insight from these realities. Of course, you already personalize your child’s attention, but do you keep track of the problems you face, the solutions you try, and how well they work or don’t? Do you think that will be useful in a few months? Do you allow the child to retreat to a “safe space” when they become overwhelmed? Find out from your child’s teacher which tools they use and how you can use them at home to help your child succeed. Your child’s participation in special education does not have to end—and should not—just because they have left the classroom.