Support for Special Education – An Essay
Original Essay – March 5, 2018
Since the 1960s parents and professionals have been working to find appropriate wording for individuals that struggle more than others in school. At first they were referred to as minimally brain injured but that did not fit because they did not have an actual brain injury. Then they tried exploring the possibility of defining them as a slow learner but often times the individual only struggled in one area in school and not another. They tried out Dyslexia to cover all learning disorders but that really only refers to a reading problem. They finally concluded with the term Learning Disabilities. From this came the “Association for Children with Learning Disabilities”. This association was solely parent based until a few years after it was created was it recognized by teachers and the federal government. In 1975 was when the federal government first defined Learning Disabilities, revising it in 1997, and then reauthorizing it again in 2004 with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
The federal definition of Learning Disabilities states that “The term “specific learning disability” means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, which disorder may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations” (p.117 Exceptional Learners and introduction to Special Education). This term includes “perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia” (p.117 Exceptional Learners and introduction to Special Education). The definition does not include disorders that are a result from something else like vision, hearing, motor skills impairment, diagnosis of mental retardation or an emotional disturbance, or those suffering from disadvantages environmentally, economically, or culturally. In other words, the federal government defines learning disabilities as that the individual struggles in one or more areas such as comprehension verbally or written, expressing one’s self verbally, or mathematical equations. It does not take into consideration those already diagnosed with a disability, it only includes perceptual disabilities, those whose brains are functioning on a low level, have an injury to the brain, struggle with dyslexia or developmental aphasia.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is broken down into different sections to cover the different components it takes to support someone with a learning disability. Section 1462 (b) (1) states, “(1) In general in carrying out this section, the Secretary shall support activities—
(A) for personnel development, including activities for the preparation of personnel who will serve children with high incidence and low incidence disabilities, to prepare special education and general education teachers, principals, administrators, and related services personnel (and school board members, when appropriate) to meet the diverse and individualized instructional needs of children with disabilities and improve early intervention, educational, and transitional services and results for children with disabilities, consistent with the objectives described in subsection (a); and
(B) for enhanced support for beginning special educators, consistent with the objectives described in subsection (a)” (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statute-chapter-33/subchapter-IV/part-B/1462/b/1). This creates support for special education and general education teachers to best support those with low and high incidence disabilities. Section1470 states that “children with disabilities and their parents receive training and information designed to assist the children in meeting developmental and functional goals and challenging academic achievement goals, and in preparing to lead productive independent adult lives;
(C) children with disabilities and their parents receive training and information on their rights, responsibilities, and protections under this chapter, in order to develop the skills necessary to cooperatively and effectively participate in planning and decision making relating to early intervention, educational, and transitional services;
(D) parents, teachers, administrators, early intervention personnel, related services personnel, and transition personnel receive coordinated and accessible technical assistance and information to assist such personnel in improving early intervention, educational, and transitional services and results for children with disabilities and their families; and
(E) appropriate technology and media are researched, developed, and demonstrated, to improve and implement early intervention, educational, and transitional services and results for children with disabilities and their families” (https://sites.ed.gov/idea/statute-chapter-33/subchapter-IV/part-C/1470). This protects the individual and their families to get proper training and information about the diagnosis and desired goals to reach, their rights, responsibilities, involvement in planning and decision making regarding early intervention, education, and transitional supports, professionals the tools and rights to coordinate with each other to best support the individual as well as technology to support the individual appropriately. The different sections of the IDEA were created to support those with low and high incidence disabilities, therefore, it supports the appropriate needs the individual needs based on their evaluation and progress.