What is Special About Special Education?

Special education is a type of education that is specifically designed to meet the needs of students with disabilities.

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Special education is instruction that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines 13 categories of disabilities, from cognitive delays to physical impairments, that may qualify a child for special education and related services.

Most children with disabilities spend the majority of their time in general education classrooms with their nondisabled peers and receive support services, such as Speech-Language Therapy or resource room help, as needed. Other children with more significant disabilities may spend more time in special education classrooms and receive more intense services.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools offer all eligible children with disabilities a “free appropriate public education” (FAPE). This means that special education and related services must be provided at no cost to parents, and schools must take steps to ensure that the child receives an education that is appropriate for his or her unique needs.

What is special about special education?

Special education is teaching differently abled children in a different manner so as to bring about equality and inclusiveness in society. This field of teaching is constantly innovating and adopting new technologies to better the lives of special children.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is a federal law that governs how states and public agencies provide special education and related services to more than 6.5 million eligible infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities.

The IDEA was first enacted in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). It has been amended several times since then, most recently in 2004. The IDEA requires that all students with disabilities be provided a free appropriate public education (FAPE) that is tailored to their individual needs and designed to meet their unique learning goals.

In order to receive FAPE, students with disabilities must be enrolled in an appropriate educational program that includes specially designed instruction and related services. These services may include, but are not limited to, speech-language therapy, occupational therapy, physical therapy, counseling and psychological services.

The IDEA also requires that schools make reasonable accommodations for the needs of students with disabilities. This may include modifications to the curriculum, instructional materials or equipment; changes to the physical layout of the classroom; or the use of assistive technologies.

The History of Special Education

Special education has its roots in the 19th century, when educational opportunities were first extended to students with physical and mental disabilities. While the early years of special education were marked by experimentation and change, the field has evolved significantly over the past two centuries. Today, special education is a vital part of the educational system in the United States, providing individualized instruction and support to students with a wide range of needs.

The history of special education is a long and complicated one, marked by changing attitudes and evolving approaches to meeting the needs of students with disabilities. In the early years of public education, students with disabilities were often excluded from school altogether. As time went on and societal attitudes changed, schools began to experiment with different ways of integrating these students into the mainstream educational system. However, it wasn’t until after World War II that special education really began to take shape as a field in its own right.

Since then, special education has undergone substantial changes. Federal laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) have ensured that all students have access to a free and appropriate public education, regardless of their disability. And new research and technological advances have led to more effective teaching methods and resources for special educators. As we continue to learn more about how best to meet the needs of all learners, special education will continue to evolve in exciting new ways.

Contemporary Issues in Special Education

Contemporary Issues in Special Education refers to the full range of discrete services that are available to support children who have been identified as having special educational needs. The term encompasses both the corrective and supplemental instruction that these students receive in order to level the playing field so that they can compete academically on the same grounds as their peers. Special education is a service, not a place; thus, children with special needs can be educated in the same general education classroom as their non-disabled peers, with the necessary supports and modifications in place to meet their unique needs.

There are three primary types of contemporary issues in special education:

1. The Inclusion of Students with Special Needs: Inclusion describes the practice of educating students with special needs in regular classrooms alongside their non-disabled peers. The inclusion model is based on the premise that all children have a right to a quality education, and that the best way to provide this is to allow all students to learn side-by-side in the same general education environment. This approach requires both supports and modifications to be put into place in order for children with special needs to be successful.

2. Differentiated Instruction: Differentiated instruction is an approach to teaching that takes into account the individual learning needs of each student in a classroom. This might involve providing different levels of support for different students, or modifying assignments or activities so that they are better suited to each child’s strengths and interests. Differentiated instruction can be used in inclusive classrooms as well as those where all students have special needs.

3. Behavioral Interventions: Behavioral interventions are strategies that are designed to address specific behavioral issues that interfere with a child’s ability to learn. These might include crises intervention plans for students who exhibit violent or disruptive behaviors, as well as positive behavior supports such as token economies or reward systems.


In conclusion, there are many things that make special education unique and special. From the individualized attention and focus on each student, to the specialized curriculum and teaching methods, to the commitment of everyone involved to meeting the needs of each child, special education is a vital and important part of our educational system.

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