What is special education?
Special Education is that component of education which employs special instructional methodology (Remedial Instruction), instructional materials, learning-teaching aids and equipment to meet educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities. Remedial instruction or Remediation aims at improving a skill or ability in a student. Techniques for remedial instruction may include providing more practice or more explanation, repeating information, and devoting more time to working on the skill. For example, a student having a low reading level could be given remediation via one-on-one reading instruction, phonic instruction, or practice in reading aloud.
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Any one with a Bachelors degree education who has an aptitude for teaching can join a course on Special Education. There are institutes which offer Bachelors and Masters Program in Special Education. There are many organizations which offer short term programs (2 weeks to 1 month) in Special Education. It is always advisable to join courses of atleast 1 year duration. There are very few institutions offering a 1 year program.
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When does a child need special education?
Special education teachers work with children and youths who have a variety of disabilities. A small number of special education teachers work with students with mental retardation or autism, primarily teaching them life skills and basic literacy. However, the majority of special education teachers work with children with mild to moderate disabilities, using the general education curriculum, or modifying it, to meet the child's individual needs. Most special education teachers instruct students at the elementary, middle, and secondary school level, although some teachers work with infants and toddlers. Special educators provide programs for specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, mental retardation, emotional disturbance, multiple disabilities, hearing impairments, visual impairments, autism, combined deafness and blindness, traumatic brain injury, and other health impairments. Students are classified under one of the categories, and special education teachers are prepared to work with specific groups. Early identification of a child with special needs is an important part of a special education teacher's job. Early intervention is essential in educating children with disabilities.
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How do they work?
Special education teachers use various techniques to promote learning. Depending on the disability, teaching methods can include individualized instruction, problem-solving assignments, and small group work. When students need special accommodations in order to take a test, special education teachers see that appropriate ones are provided, such as having the questions read orally or lengthening the time allowed to take the test. Special education teachers help to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for each special education student. The IEP sets personalized goals for each student and is tailored to the student's individual needs and ability. Teachers work closely with parents to inform them of their child's progress and suggest techniques to promote learning at home. They are involved in the students' behavioral, social, and academic development, helping the students develop emotionally, feel comfortable in social situations, and be aware of socially acceptable behavior. Special education teachers communicate and work together with parents, social workers, school psychologists, speech therapists, occupational and physical therapists, school administrators, and other teachers.
Special Education can be provided to the child as:
- a one to one setting outside or within his/her formal educational environment.
- a Pull-out service where special remedial, therapeutic, or enrichment services can be provided to students outside the regular classroom which is referred to as Pull-out services.
An Inclusive Model of education would imply educational provision for individuals with special needs within the educational system where these children study side by side with their mainstream peers, so as to enable them to develop to their full potential. Inclusion is an educational philosophy aimed at "normalizing" special services for which students qualify. Inclusion involves an attempt to provide more of these special services by providing additional aids and support inside the regular classroom, rather than by pulling students out for isolated instruction. Inclusion involves the extension of general education curriculum and goals to students receiving special services. It involves shared responsibility, problem solving, and mutual support among all the staff members who provide services to students. One aim of inclusion is to reduce the removal of students from the regular classroom when the same intent of service can be provided within the regular classroom.
The different areas looked into and modifications incorporated for a child with specific learning needs maybe-
Accommodation: An adjustment made to an environment, situation, or supplies for individual differences.
Adaptation: A change in what students do or a reshaping of the materials students use. Adaptations are essentially the same as modifications, but can specifically refer to the materials and equipment student's use to aid in learning. Enlarging the print on a worksheet and audio taping a textbook are examples of adaptations.
Cognitive learning: The area of learning based on knowledge and reasoning; also called academic learning.
Compensation or compensatory instruction: Instruction aimed at tackling a problem or an area of difficulty. Techniques for compensatory instruction include the use of alternative instruction, alternative techniques, and adaptive equipment.
Co-teaching: An instructional arrangement in which there is more than one adult in a classroom, instructional and classroom responsibilities are defined and assigned, and some type of co-planning is involved.
Individualized education program (plan) (IEP): A written plan of educational goals and objectives for a student. This plan is reviewed and rewritten each year.
Modification: A change in what students do or a reshaping of the materials students use. Reducing the number of questions students must answer at the end of a textbook chapter, allowing a student to answer aloud instead of writing an answer, and allowing the student to do an activity that is different from what the other students are doing are all examples of modifications.
Transition services: Services, training, skills, support, or instruction identified as necessary to help a special education student successfully move from a school setting into a post-secondary setting (i.e., work, job training, technical school, college, military, independent living, semi-independent living).
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Where do they work?
There are a variety of facilities in which these professionals work.
Special schools: Mostly you find them working in special schools helping children with the academic skills.
Rehabilitation centre: There are many public/private rehabilitation centres that emply special educators
Private support: In India private practice is very common where many Special educators work independently. They may be working part-time in any of the facilities mentioned above along with private tutoring also.
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