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What Is Special Education?



special education

What is Special Education? is seen as the practice of educating students with identified disabilities and special needs. These interventions are designed to help individuals with special needs achieve a higher level of personal self-sufficiency and success in school and in their community which may not be available if the student were only given access to a typical classroom education.


How the Individuals with Disabilities Educate

This ensures that children with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education and that schools provide special education to these children in the least restrictive environment possible, which means keeping them in general education classrooms whenever possible.

This covers children from the age of 3 through high school (or the age of 21, whichever comes first). Children younger than the age of 3 can receive services through early intervention services.

To qualify, children must fall under one of the 13 disabilities identified:

  • Autism
  • Deafness
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Visual impairment, including blindness
  • Speech or language impairment
  • Orthopedic impairments
  • Hearing impairment
  • Intellectual disability
  • Multiple disabilities
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Other health impairment, including ADHD
  • Specific learning disability, including (among others) dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia

Special Education Interventions

Special education may be best described as a purposeful intervention designed to overcome or eliminate the obstacles that keep children with disabilities from learning. In other words, it is about providing children with disabilities with individualized plans of instruction to help them succeed in their dream or career.

Where is Special Education Taught?

However, most special education takes place in the general education classroom – consistent with the goal of providing children with disabilities special education services in the least restrictive environment.

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