What is special education support?
When a child has been identified as a special needs student, decisions are made about how his/her needs will best be met. This process is often started during the identification period and when the child is identified the placement is included in the report. There are a variety of levels of service delivery and the level can change depending upon the success or lack of success the student is experiencing. Typically, levels of support follow a continuum of programs and services from a minimal level of support to a maximum level of support with the goal of inclusional support always being in the forefront. Please note that this list will provide you with examples of specific support. The following levels of support provide you with an overview of special education.
Regular Classroom with Curriculum Modifications
Support at this level includes some modifications to the curriculum which may mean that the child will have reduced amounts of work in specific subject areas. Specific strategies may be employed that will ensure the student’s learning style is being optimized. This may include, stories that are read to him/her on cassette, software to learn the basic facts which often include some drill and repetitions, a form of text to speech or speech to text software to assist with language delays, peer tutoring and or assistance with the writing of tests and exams. Ongoing parental involvement is encouraged at home with regular feedback and strategies provided by the teacher.
Regular Classroom, Program Modifications and Special Education Teacher Support
At this level of support, everything from the previous level may be in place and a special education teacher would visit the classroom at specific times and provide additional support. Some of the additional support could be in a specific subject area such as math. The special education teacher may provide concrete manipulatives to ensure that the child develops a thorough understanding of the concepts. This level of support provides some one to one assistance for 15 or 20 minutes blocks, once or twice per day by a special education teacher.
Regular Classroom, Program Modifications, Special Education Withdrawal
At this level, both of the above levels support will often already be in place and the child will visit the special education classroom for a portion of his/her school day. This could vary from 10 – 90% of the day depending on the jurisdiction. The child would remain in the regular classroom for areas where he/she requires minimal to no support. The child would have a schedule of the times that he/she would be receiving support from a special education class. This may include a full language or math program that is specific to the child’s needs, the child may be functioning several grades behind in the specific grade. The child may receive social skills training, small group instruction, computer assisted support and a completely individualized program.
Special Education Class with Occasional Inclusion to the Regular Classroom
At this level of support, there’s often one to one support with special education teachers and assistants. The curriculum may be an alternate curriculum (life skills, augmentative communication, gross and fine motor skill development etc.), the child may receive special transportation, a completely individualized program, computer assisted instruction, physical care assistance which may include feeding and toileting and behavior management. Occasionally the child may be integrated into the regular classroom for art or music and an educational assistant would accompany the child.
Treatment Center or School
Some children may benefit from being placed in a children’s service facility care and treatment program. Children receiving this type of placement are often blind, deaf or immobile or severely learning disabled etc. A treatment center type of placement maximizes support that is very specific to the disability. A treatment center is often short in duration and placement back
at the regular school is usually the goal. The child may be placed in a treatment facility for 1-2 years. Many specialists (physio therpists, psychologists, speech/language therapists etc.) will work directly or in a consultative mode with these students. This type of placement is provided for students whose needs cannot be sufficiently met in the regular school setting.
All levels of support are regularly reviewed and revised as needed. Parental input is critical regardless of support level.