What is Special Education?

Special education is the instruction designed and implemented to address the academic, social, and physical needs of students who qualify for special education services. Individualized education plans (IEP) created for learners with special needs are monitored and adjusted so that students receiving these services can access education in a way that best serves them. Services for special education take into account teaching strategies and procedures, suitable equipment and materials, appropriate settings, and organized interventions to assist learners with special needs to succeed in school. In working to serve learners with special needs, educators work to establish routines and practices that can transfer into skills and self-sufficiency that can carry into life outside of the classroom.

The federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities of Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 states that learners with special needs have the right to learn in the least restrictive environment and with individualized plans to suit the learner's unique needs at no cost to the parent(s) or guardian(s).

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so educators work to establish best practices to assist each learner's success. Many models for instruction are used to serve learners with special needs best. One is inclusion programs, which aim to include learners with special needs in classrooms with their peers. When regular education classes include special education services, this can benefit a learner's academic success and to build community with other students. In an inclusion course, the learner may have extra time to complete the work or be assisted by a special education teacher. However, some learners are able to better learn in a separate environment.

Special education of all models embraces all students and provides them with opportunities to participate, learn and build upon their strengths and be included in the community of learners around them.

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Special Education Resources

Many resources are available that explore and explain the multiple facets of special education. Study.com utilizes digestible chunks of information to establish a clear foundation in understanding components like the Individual Education Plan (IEP), differentiated instruction, and curriculum development. The resources and courses provided can be used to gain initial insights, review materials, find answers to questions, or learn new strategies in special education.

Special Education Courses and Lessons

The resources available at Study.com dig into many complex topics surrounding special needs and education, starting from early childhood special education. From Special Education History and Law, which sets a foundation of the rights now established, to Specialized Education Curriculum Development, these courses are thorough and comprehensive. The studies on Assistive Technology in Education and Autism Strategies for teachers can be an efficient resource for teachers of all levels of learners.

Education 104: Differentiated Instruction

This course's design teaches how to create differentiated instructions. Students of this course will learn how to develop skills involving parents and outside support, adapt to the learner's needs and work to build in practices for student engagement.

Education 105: Special Education History & Law

Through an in-depth exploration of special education history and law, learners will understand topics such as the timeline of laws, acts, and the government's role in forming the system to protect and include all students with special needs.

Assistive Technology in Education

This engaging course helps educators learn how to include integrative technology practices in their classrooms. The easy-to-follow lessons provide implementable ideas that will work in various subject areas and engage students with different needs.

Autism Strategies for Teachers

The short and simple lessons help educators become more intentional in creating lessons and use strategies for inclusion. This course builds instructional skills to engage and assist students with sensory-related issues and listening and behavior skills.

Blended Learning Models and Solutions for Teachers

Expert instructors explain the benefits of blended learning strategies and models. Educators will learn how to establish and implement different blended learning models, including e-learning, in-person classroom instruction, and a combination of both.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are the most common special education needs?

    Special education needs are individual to the students and vary from person to person. However, special education needs in schools include learning disabilities, mental conditions, and other disabling conditions.

  • Why is it called special education?

    The term special education is used because learners with special needs are provided individual plans. The plans are crafted to fit the needs of each learner to serve that student best academically and socially.

  • What is the difference between inclusive education and special education?

    Inclusive education offers students the opportunity to be in regular education classes. These students may be provided modifications to their assignments, but they are included in social and academic learning. In special education classes, students are separated from their typical peer group.

  • What is the difference between special and regular education?

    Special education offers students with special needs access to an Individual Education Plan (IEP) to help best serve the student's individual needs by creating measurable goals with the help of modifications and accommodations. Regular education does not provide students with a plan to allow for modifications or accommodations.