What is Special Education?
Special Education, in brief, is instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This means education that is developed to address a specific child’s needs that result from his or her disability. Since each child is unique, it is difficult to give an overall example of special education. It is individualized for each child.
As defined by IDEA at 300.39 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act)
(a) General. (1)Special Educationmeans specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including-
(i) Instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other setting; and
(ii) Instruction in physical education.
(2)Special Education includes each of the following, if the services otherwise meet the requirements of paragraph (a)(1) of this section-
(i) Speech-language pathology services, or any other related service, if the service is considered special education rather than a related service under State standards;
(ii) Travel training; and
(iii) Vocational education
What does “Specially Designed Instruction” Mean?
Given the importance of “specially designed instruction” in the core of special education’s definition, it is useful to take a closer look at how that term is defined.
(3) Specially designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction-
(i) To address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and
(ii) To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the education standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children. [300.39(b)(3)]
What is the Goal of Special Education?
Special education makes it possible for your child to achieve academic success in the least restrictive environment despite their disability. The federal law governing the system is called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA. IDEA entitles all children with learning disabilities to a free appropriate education (FAPE). Examples of “appropriate” programs include:
- A specific program or class for your child
- Access to specialists
- Modifications in the educational program such as curriculum and teaching methods.