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What are the Different Types of Special Education Students?

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  • Written By: Lily Ruha
  • Edited By: Allegra J. Lingo
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2016
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The different types of special education students include those with physical, emotional, mental, behavioral, learning, developmental, and communication challenges. Students are placed into special education classes if they have disabilities or disorders that interfere with learning in a traditional classroom. Special education classrooms and resource rooms are generally equipped with specialized learning devices and a smaller student to teacher ratio.

Some special education students have physical disabilities. Blind or deaf students often require special learning devices not offered by the conventional classroom. Students who have physical disabilities that impair speech or movements required for writing or speaking may be placed in special education classes where they can receive more specialized attention from teachers.

The category of special education students includes those with mental health issues and brain injury. A student who has suffered a traumatic brain injury often requires a different teaching approach, specialized instructional tools, and personalized attention. Mentally delayed students, in general, study in special environments that allow for a slower pace, content repetition, and greater supervision.

Some autistic students are placed in special education classrooms. The challenges that come with this disorder vary across individuals. Many autistic children experience delays in language development and social skills. Some experience no reaction to sounds, while others are highly sensitive to noise and physical contact. The placement of some autistic children in special education classrooms often creates greater comfort for the student and facilitates a more focused approach to learning.

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Behavioral disorders are also reasons behind placing students in special education classes. A child with a conduct disorder, for example, might be placed in a special education classroom because he is continually disruptive and needs a greater amount of attention from teaching staff. Students with attention-deficit disorders are considered special education students in instances where their learning needs cannot be met in a traditional classroom. A child lacking in impulse control may require an adapted teaching environment and specialized attention as well.

Some special education students suffer from mental and emotional health issues such as depression, anxieties, or phobias. In these situations, the condition keeps the student from participating in classroom activities, inhibiting learning. A special education resource room that allows for greater individualized attention is sometimes helpful in these cases. These placements are sometimes debated by parents who believe that the special education label might harm their child, especially if they feel that the condition is temporary and can be treated outside of school.

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irontoenail
Post 3

@umbra21 - Actually, I think if a teacher can develop a community within her classroom, where all the students are actively trying to help each other and to be inclusive, then he or she will be able to give each one of them as much attention as they need.

Often students with special needs only really need treatment that all the students would benefit from. For example, dyslexia students might need to study words alongside pictures in order to make better connections in their minds between the two. This is certainly not a bad thing for other students either.

Autistic students might benefit from more music in the classroom. Most other students are going to enjoy this as well.

I think that, if a teacher is flexible and open minded, they can adapt almost any curriculum to fit all of their students and it will end up being a richer environment for that.

umbra21
Post 2

@KoiwiGal - the problem with mainstreaming special education students is that they often need extra help and that's just not possible in a classroom of 35 students, where the teacher is already stretched way too thin.

I don't like the necessity of labeling students, but unfortunately, without the official label, they will often get put into a different group, of "trouble makers" simply because they aren't getting the help they need, so they end up acting out.

KoiwiGal
Post 1

I was talking about this recently with a friend of mine who has a son with dyslexia. She said that she was very reluctant to label him with that, because as soon as the teacher hears that he has special needs he'll be treated differently. And a lot of people assume that having special needs, including things like autism and dyslexia, automatically means that the person in question is going to be of below average intelligence.

She doesn't want her son to end up falling behind because his teacher doesn't think he's smart enough to keep up, even though he is. But she also doesn't want him to end up with someone who thinks teaching special education students means ignoring their special needs.

It's definitely a fine line to walk and I really hope that she manages to find the right place for her son.

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