Special education services are designed for students who demonstrate physical, mental, social, and emotional developmental delays.

Due to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), every student has the right to a free and appropriate education from the ages of 3 to 21. Under this law, students with disabilities must be provided with adequate special education services and resources necessary for success within and also beyond the educational system.

Special education services are specially designed to appropriately meet the unique needs of each child by adapting learning content, teaching methodology, and the delivery of instruction, at no cost to the parent. Special education services that specialize in physical, cognitive, social and emotional instruction are offered to children diagnosed with one or more disabilities. Under the IDEA, disabilities are categorized in the areas of ASD, multiple disabilities, traumatic brain injury (TBI), speech and language impairment, intellectual disability, visual impairment (including blindness), deaf; hearing impairment, deaf-blindness, developmental delay, emotional disturbance, specific learning disability, orthopedic impairment, and other health impairment(s).

To be deemed eligible for special education services, the student’s disability must adversely affect their overall academic achievement and educational performance. Services are determined through a series of evaluations and goals and objectives are then clearly defined in an individualized education program (IEP) that is reviewed annually.

Special education services give a unique opportunity for special education teachers to teach outside of the traditional classroom routine and allow students to be successful by meeting their individual needs. Specialized programs such as self-contained classes/schools or inclusion programs are environments that enforce and utilize adaptations, modifications and accommodations set forth in the student’s IEP. The difference between self- contained and inclusion is based on the needs and level of the disability of the child.

The practice of inclusion in education gives an equal opportunity for special needs students to learn alongside their non-disabled peers in a less restrictive environment or general education classroom. 

In an inclusion setting, instruction operates under a co-teaching strategy and students with disabilities benefit socially, emotionally, cognitively and academically by getting the same opportunities as their non-disabled peers. Self-contained classes or schools are also known to benefit students in different ways as they offer smaller class sizes and more access to the general curriculum in an authentic and meaningful way.

Key elements of inclusion and special education services

  • Free and appropriate education for students ages 3-21
  • Programs meet the unique needs of each child
  • Individualized instruction through inclusion or self contained programs
  • Services maintained and reviewed yearly through an individualized education program (IEP)
  • Benefit students physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally

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