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FAQ: Special Education

What is the responsibility of the teacher regarding modification?

The standard classroom teacher is expected to modify methods, materials, and pacing so that students with special needs can benefit from instruction in the well-balanced curriculum within a standard classroom.

What do the rules say about help for the classroom teacher?

State board criteria go on to say, “Token efforts will not suffice when determining whether a student’s goals can be achieved in the regular classroom. The district is obligated to provide reasonable support necessary for the student to attain the goals.”

What should I do if I believe a child needs more help than is being provided?

The burden of proof for justifying increased aids and services rests with the person making the request. A teacher of a student who needs more help than is initially provided must make a request, and the teacher must have good records to show the reason for the request.

What Special Treatment Should Be Given?

A child with disabilities should be treated, as much as possible, like any other child. It is unfair to the child not be allowed to compete. Many people feel that children with disabilities should practice meeting the standards of the “normal” world as they are growing up so that they can gain confidence and independence.

Will My Attitude Toward Children With Special Needs Have An Effect?

If you perceive the special needs child as someone to be pitied or as someone from whom little should be expected or demanded, then probably little will be accomplished. If, on the other hand, you expect the child to succeed and grow, and to learn to act independently, then chances are good that the child will become a successful, growing, independent student.

How Should You Respond To Everyday Accomplishments?

It is a joy to see a child with a disability accomplish the same things that other children do, such as reading, playing on the jungle gym, or going through the lunch line. It is important, however, to distinguish between accomplishments that are attained with about the same degree of effort that is required from most children and those accomplishments that really represent a challenge to the disabled child. If people react to ordinary accomplishments that were not particularly difficult to attain as if they were extraordinary, children can develop unrealistic views of themselves. This unrealistic view could be either an inflated view of their capabilities and accomplishments, based on the continual assessment elicited from others, or a deflated view, based on the obviously limited expectations others hold for children with disabilities. On the other hand, encouragement and reinforcement should be expressed when youngsters accomplish tasks made difficult by their specific disabilities. For a child with cerebral palsy, dressing himself would be one such example.

How Much Help Should Be Given?

One of the benefits of mainstreaming is that children can help their disabled classmates. Of course, too much help can become a hindrance if it robs the child of opportunities to learn and practice independence. Generally, if a child cannot handle some procedure or material, she or he should be given an opportunity to learn how to do it if at all possible.

Is There Anything Special That Needs To Be Done?

There are special considerations that can be helpful to children with special disabilities. For example, keep in mind that children who have visual impairments depend upon what they hear and touch to bring them information about their surroundings. Provide opportunities for visually impaired children to handle things that children with normal vision can simply look at. It is also helpful to describe new people, things, and events as they come into the child’s environment.

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