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Definition of Special Education
Special Education are designed for those students who are mentally,
physically, socially and/or emotionally delayed. This aspect of “delay,”
broadly categorized as a developmental delay, signify an aspect of the
child's overall development (physical, cognitive, scholastic skills) which
place them behind their peers. Due to these special requirements,
students’ needs cannot be met within the traditional classroom
environment. Special Education programs and services adapt content,
teaching methodology and delivery instruction to meet the appropriate
needs of each child. These services are of no cost to the family and are
available to children until they reach 21 years of age. (States have services
set in place for adults who are in need of specialized services after age 21.)
The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) defines Special Education as
“specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the
unique needs of a child with a disability,” but still, what exactly is Special
Education? Often met with an ambiguous definition, the umbrella term of
Special Education broadly identifies the academic, physical, cognitive and
social-emotional instruction offered to children who are faced with one or
more disabilities.
Under the IDEA, these disabilities are categorized into the following areas:

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a developmental disability that
significantly affects communication (both verbal and nonverbal) and social
interaction. These symptoms are typically evident before the age of three
and adversely affect a child’s educational performance. Other identifying
characteristics of those with ASD are engagement in repetitive
activities/stereotyped movements, resistance to change in environment and
daily routine and unusual responses to sensory stimuli.

Multiple disabilities
Children with multiple disabilities are those with concomitant impairments
such as intellectual disability + blindness or intellectual disability +
orthopedic impairment(s). This combination causes severe educational
needs that cannot be met through programs designed for children with a

refers to impairment in one’s vision that.)  Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Traumatic brain injury refers to an acquired injury to the brain caused by external physical forces. which includes blindness. adversely affects a child’s educational .  Visual Impairment (including Blindness) Visual impairment.  Intellectual Disability (also referred to as “Mental Retardation”) Intellectual disability is defined as a significantly below average functioning of overall intelligence that exists alongside deficits in adaptive behavior and is manifested during the child’s developmental period causing adverse affects on the child’s educational performance. (Deaf-blindness is not identified as a multiple disability and is outlined separately by IDEA. even after correction. TBI applies to injuries that result in impairments in one or more of the following areas: Cognitio n Langu age Reasoni ng Memor y Abstr act thinking Atten tion Judgm ent Probl em-solving Psychos Physi Inform ocial behavior cal functions ation processing ch  Spee Speech/language impairment Speech or language impairments refer to communications disorders such as stuttering.single impairment. This injury is one that results in a partial or complete functional disability and/or psychosocial impairment and must adversely affect the child’s educational performance. TBI does not include congenital or degenerative conditions or those caused by birth-related trauma. impaired articulation or language/voice impairments that have an adverse affect on a child’s educational performance.

 Deaf. Hearing impairment refers to an impairment (fluctuating or permanent) that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. behavioral development or communication.  Deaf-Blindness Deaf-blindness refers to concomitant visual and hearing impairments. physical development.  Emotional Disturbance Emotional disturbance refers to a condition that exhibits one or more of the following characteristics both over an extended period of time and to an exceptional degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance: o An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual. developmental and educational needs that cannot be accommodated through special education programs solely for those children with blindness or deafness. The term “visual impairment” is inclusive of those with partial sight and blindness.  Developmental Delay Developmental delay is a term designated for children birth to age nine. sensory or health factors . Hearing Impairment Deafness means a child’s hearing impairment is so severe that it impacts the processing of linguistic information with or without amplification and adversely affects a child’s educational performance.performance. This combination causes severe communication. and is defined as a delay in one or more of the following areas: cognitive development. socio-emotional development.

dysgraphia). as well impairments by other causes (i. emotional disturbance or those who are placed at an environmental/economic disadvantage.  Specific Learning Disability Specific learning disability refers to a range of disorders in which one or more basic psychological processes involved in the comprehensive/usage of language — both spoken or written — establishes an impairment in one’s ability to listen. read. think. brain injury.o An inability to build and/or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers o Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances o o A general pervasive mood of unhappiness/depression A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems Emotional disturbance does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted unless they are determined to have an emotional disturbance as per IDEA’s regulations.  Orthopedic Impairment Orthopedic impairment(s) refer to severe orthopedic impairments that adversely affect a child’s academic performance. minimal brain dysfunction and developmental aphasia. Orthopedic impairment(s) include those caused by congenital anomalies and diseases.e. Cerebral Palsy). intellectual disability. spell and/or complete mathematical calculations. dyslexia (also dyscalculia. Included are conditions such as perceptual disabilities. auditory or motor disabilities. write.  Other Health Impairment(s) . Specific learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are the result of visual.

resulting in limited alertness to one’s educational environment. In . These professionals' specialized skills are matched to the specialized needs of identified children. and science. These impairments are often due to chronic or acute health problems — including ADD/ADHD. writing.) are involved beyond regular classroom teachers. social studies. individualized instructional methods. Many people have the misconception that special education is merely a watered-down version of regular education. and Additional specialists (specialized teachers. the opposite is often true. aides.Other health impairments refer to a limitation in strength. social workers. In fact. Special education differs from regular education in two ways:   Different instructional methods are used. Most special education students will work on traditional academic content areas such as reading. physical therapists. and Tourette’s syndrome — and adversely affect the child’s educational performance. This is understandable.Differences between Special Education and Regular Education The basic goal of special education is to provide exceptional children with disabilities which will prevent them from fully benefiting from traditional educational approaches with specialized instruction and intervention sufficient to enable them to benefit from their education. but incorrect. 2. epilepsy. Special education uses intensive. math. occupational therapists. vitality or alertness. etc. speech therapists. Special education is in many ways more intensive than conventional education.

Some school staff and families think that behavior plans should mainly create planned consequences for a student's misbehavior. and other related services. eating. filling out forms. A Functional Curriculum is designed to help students learn basic daily living skills they have not developed on their own such as toileting. speech and language therapy. These specialties serve several purposes: 1) to help prevent minor problems from becoming a disability. as needed basis by specialty services that help individual children to manage or overcome impediments to their learning. many exceptional students also benefit from a functional curriculum. For example. but these punishment-oriented plans often do not get the full benefits that a more comprehensive behavior plan could provide. or sharing toys with other students during group activities. learn to meet their daily living needs. The behavior plan also specifies what tools school staff can use to motivate students to model those appropriate behaviors. using money. 3) to resolve problems in connection with a disability. occupational therapy (OT). Intervention services students may receive at school include physical therapy (PT). 2) to prevent the effects of a disability from getting worse. communicating basic needs. and to focus their energy on learning. A behavior plan is a written plan that specifies what positive behaviors the student should be exhibiting. and following directions that a teacher or boss gives them. psychological and other specialists may collaborate to create a behavior plan designed to help a child reduce acting-out behaviors. Traditional and functional curricula are augmented on a child-by-child. Both children in regular education and special education can benefit from behavior plans. grooming. but often.addition to traditional academic content. . children with special needs will need a more detailed plan. such as completing work in a timely manner. Functional curriculums teach students the basic skills required for independent living. or 4) to teach students to complete certain tasks in spite of their disability.