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Special Education Student Tips

Every year, more and more students are identified with disabilities. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2009 and 2020, the number of K-12 students who received special education services increased by a little less than one million students. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts must provide free, appropriate public education to children with disabilities. That education must take place in the least restrictive environment. >p>As special education programs evolve to meet the needs of the growing body of students with disabilities, some key trends have emerged to help them do so. Schools are increasingly turning to early intervention services, assistive technologies and inclusive classroom designs to ensure all students receive the support they need to excel academically and personally.

Early Intervention

For students with special needs to get the support they need, it's crucial that their needs are identified as early as possible. While many schools use various methods to identify students who qualify for special education services, many parents are turning to early intervention services that can help very young children start to receive interventions before they even start school.

Early intervention helps children from birth to three years old who have developmental delays or specific health conditions. Early intervention aims to help them achieve developmental milestones to prepare them for school and life. It focuses on cultivating physical, cognitive, communicative, adaptive and social-emotional skills.

Since identifying children eligible for early intervention services relies heavily on observation, more and more parents and pediatricians are turning to technology to aid in these observations. For example, a startup called Babynoggin offers a suite of mobile apps to screen children for developmental delays in motor skills, language, social-emotional capabilities and cognitive processing.

Assistive Technologies

Technology is an excellent aid for identifying students who are eligible for special education services in school, as well. Since identifying children eligible for early intervention services relies heavily on observation, more and more parents and pediatricians are turning to technology to aid in these observations. For example, a startup called Babynoggin offers a suite of mobile apps to screen children for developmental delays in motor skills, language, social-emotional capabilities and cognitive processing.

Amplify's reading application mCLASS has recently tweaked its software to screen for dyslexia in students. States like Texas have already adopted this software to screen for dyslexia as early as Kindergarten. By leveraging technology, special educators can enhance and individualize classroom instruction.  

Aside from identification, there are a host of other uses for assistive technologies in the special education classroom. For example, certain disabilities make it difficult for some students to process visual information, and these students might benefit from speech-to-text technologies. Braille keyboards, screen reader applications and augmentative communication tools can also help them with hearing or speech problems overcome communication barriers. 

Inclusive Classrooms

IDEA requires students with special needs to receive free public education that meets their needs and that this education take place in the least restrictive environment. Loosely translated, this means that as often as possible, students with special needs should be included in activities and classroom environments with students who do not qualify for special education services.

One way many schools are working to meet this requirement is to utilize inclusive classrooms. In an inclusive classroom, both general education teachers and special education teachers work together to meet the needs of all students. Inclusive classes are set up in a variety of different ways. Some inclusive classrooms might have a special education teacher push-in during the day to provide extra support to students with special needs.

However, an increasing number of schools are utilizing co-teaching to create more integrated classrooms. With co-teaching, a special education teacher is present in the general education classroom throughout the day to provide support when needed and help alongside the general education teacher. Studies suggest this model offers students with special needs more direct in-class support while also normalizing their disabilities or health concerns for their peers, benefiting all students in the class.

As the population of students who qualify for special education services grows, the services intended to meet their needs are expanding. Schools are relying on innovative approaches to meet all students' needs without overwhelming teachers. Innovative and creative approaches to intervention, support and teaching are at the forefront of this evolution.

Learn more about Texas A&M International University's online Master of Science in Curriculum and Instruction with a Specialization in Special Education program.


Sources:

Alana: A Summary of the Evidence on Inclusive Education

Amplify:
What Is Dyslexia?
Amplify's mCLASS Texas Edition Chosen to Support Texas' Youngest Learners

Cult of Pedagogy: Co-Teaching: How to Make it Work

LD Resources Foundation Action: Speech To Text For Students With Disabilities, Apps, Tools, and Software

National Center for Education Statistics: Students with Disabilities

The eLearning Lab: Baby Noggin: Child Development Screenings in the Palm of your Hand

ThoughtCo: Special Education Topics: What Is AAC?

Understood:
What Is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act?
What Is Early Intervention?
The Difference Between Push-in and Pull-out services

U.S. Department of Education: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act: Section 1412 (a)(5)


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