Almost one in five children ages 12 and 17 require special healthcare needs. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, there is no specific definition of “disability,” so it could mean a chronic condition, like asthma or diabetes.
Developmental issues like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders and autism are also considered disabilities. When a child suffers the effects of a concussion and is seeking compensation with the help of a brain injury lawyer, he or she could have a disability.
With such a broad definition of a disability, the education sector has a hard time keeping up.
The Cost of Special Education
It would make better sense for the parents to send their children to a school with special education programs. After all, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) committed to shouldering 40% of the average per-student cost for every student with special needs.
Unfortunately, this commitment was never fulfilled. According to the National Education Association, since 2004, the federal government paid under 20% of what it promised.
Blending in With the Regular Kids
The high costs of special needs education force parents to let their children study in a “regular” school.
Some chronic conditions, like asthma, are managed. The school provides special considerations to mitigate risk, like excusing the child from strenuous physical activity.
However, teachers continue to struggle to teach children with special needs, especially when they’re mixed with “general education” students. Teachers usually don’t have to take a class about students with disabilities, leaving them to figure out how to manage students with disabilities on their own.
Depending on the disability, students with special needs might need a longer time with the lesson. They might be asked to be grouped with students with similar issues. The problem is, the educational methodology is usually not suited for personalization. General-education students might complain of special treatment when a teacher accommodates the needs of a special-needs student.
The Key to Meeting Special Education Needs
Despite the struggles of students with special needs in a general education classroom, it is still possible for them to catch up with “regular” children. According to the National Center on Educational Outcomes, 85% of students with disabilities can grasp general-education content with proper educational support. These students also report fewer absences and thrive in tertiary education.
Teachers should undergo training on how to manage students with disabilities. The course should be in-depth, helping teachers create an inclusive classroom environment and tailor the lessons based on each student’s needs. Feedback should be immediate to help students work on their mistakes right away.
There should also be an emphasis on the relationship between the teachers and the families of children with special needs. Teachers can provide resources to families, and parents can give teachers insight into their children’s performance outside the classroom.
The high costs of education for students with special needs force parents to let their children study in a general-education school. Unfortunately, both children and teachers struggle with the current set-up. By training teachers and providing the right educational support, students with disabilities can master general-education content and thrive in school.