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Special Education For Students With Disabilities

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In the recent past, special education has fought to ensure students with disabilities are identified correctly, given the correct services, and given ample learning opportunities although factors vary for all students, making these bouts towards equality harder. Teachers must know that not only does every “inclusion” student learn differently from one another, but special education students also learn differently from one another, except on a much greater magnitude. This leads to the point that a solution to one aspect of special education say now, may not be the same solution necessary for the same exact problem in 10 years, and this has been heavily backed up by recent research.

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Twenty-five years ago, teaching literacy to children with special needs was hardly on the agenda; for example, the Education of the Handicapped Act Amendments of 1986, acknowledged the need to address the problem of illiteracy only in individuals who are deaf, while today there are 13 categories of disability that make children eligible for special education. This came as a very shocking fact to me, because it shows that people must have had much more narrow minded views toward “handicapped” students and/or students with learning disabilities, as societal tides have changes vastly in the recent decades. Not only does this go with classifications but also with the laws referring to special education as well.

A 1998 study by Whitehurst and Lonigan outlined two broad classes of early literacy skills that provide a foundation for learning to read, the first class containing alphabet knowledge and phonological awareness. The first refers to learning the concept that letters arbitrarily correspond to sound, which in part provides the foundation for reading. The latter refers to understanding that words are made up of sound units that can be isolated and manipulated, and this is often noticed in rhyming. Knowing these two strategies have led to great advancements in the learning of special education students, these seem easy enough to install into early curriculum so that special education students should grasp their learning fundamentals early on.

With a better understanding of what students need to be successful readers and writers as they enter formal schooling, educators can look at the components of instruction in classrooms designed to support the more needy learners. Haggard’s article includes the research included from Whitehurst and Lonigan, and expands it to claim that shared book experiences (with large books as visuals), along with read alouds to enhance the audio learning both greatly increase the learning capabilities of students with learning disabilities.

Teachers need to understand how different children are in terms of their readiness and literacy experiences and use this understanding to provide an appropriate literacy environment in the classroom. Additionally, as teachers conference with parents, they can demonstrate how home involvement can provide extra literacy practice for the child based on activities and skills being taught and modeled at school. The teacher should ensure that parents understand that books for the child to read at home should be simple and familiar. I can say from experience that early reading definitely helped me in improving my literacy as we had reading goals which were fun to achieve. Implementing these techniques isn’t hard, and shouldn’t be a problem for most teachers.

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