About Special Education
Often the term special education brings to mind a segregated classroom of children with disabilities who are educated using a different curriculum than those children without disabilities. While this may be true in some cases, the truth of the matter is that special education comes in numerous methods and modalities.
“Equal access to education can enrich their lives and help them reach their potential.” In the simplest of terms, special education refers to allowances that can be made in the traditional education system to help students with disabilities access and process the school curriculum. These allowances can be anything from specialized classes and services (such as speech and language or occupational therapy) to accommodations such as more time on tests and homework. Globally, education is the accepted method for how we prepare our children for the future as individuals and citizens. While not all children with special needs may be able to live their lives as independent adults, equal access to education can enrich their lives and help them reach their potential.
The ultimate goal of special education is to assist those children with special needs to achieve an education that is equivalent to their peers. It is not about “equal results” from that education, but equal access to it. The Inclusive Education Project is passionate about assisting children with special needs in securing that equal access to the education that they are entitled to under the law.
About Special Education Law
Whether or not we are aware of it, we have all come in to contact with a person with special needs. The term “special needs child” is defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS) as a child that uses “more medical care, mental health services, or educational services than is usual for most children of the same age.” In fact, according to the latest study released by the same agency, almost 14% of children under the age of 18 are classified as having special needs. That is roughly 10.2 million children.
“10.2 million children under the age of 18 are classified as having special needs.” In 1975, Congress recognized children with special needs with the passage of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA). This federal law mandated that special education programs be made available to children who needed them and if those program were not made available the law also offered a course of action for the parents of special needs children who felt that their child’s educational needs were not being met.
Passage of the EHA opened the door for subsequent education reforms such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which, among other things, extended the coverage of EHA to all eligible children with special needs from preschool to the age of 21.