Special Education Lesson Plans

Special education lesson plans are specially designed teaching methods or educational techniques for students of all age groups, with mild to profound disabilities. The lesson plans would vary depending upon the child’s nature, age, and the extremeness and type of disability. These lesson plans are mainly meant to promote student engagements, to prepare students to function independently and to master skills, to build and support social competence, and to help children and their families lead a problem free life. Special education lesson plans include math, science, music, language and art lessons, computers and the Internet, social studies, physical education and health, and other multi-disciplinary lessons.

Special educators should design presentations to cater to different levels of individual disability. Music, dance, and other art forms are great aids to enhance learning in students with disabilities. Reading, writing, and public speaking can be encouraged by special educators. Well thought out lesson plans will enhance the child’s reasoning ability and reading skills, feelings and response, create a sense of personal fulfillment, encourage language development, promote communication, help to achieve motor control and physical wellness, and cultivate positive attitudes towards the school.

The response of disabled students towards the curriculum depends on the nature of the disability, i.e., physical, emotional or cognitive. A good teacher can encourage each student to participate in the learning experience not only with the assistance of well-adapted materials, but also with proper instructional methods which would be practicable in a disabled individual.

One can find sample lesson plans for special education students in books, articles, and on the Internet; however, these lesson plans are to be modified to suit individuals. A special education teacher can design individual activity sheets for each child in consultation with physical therapists, counselors, doctors, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, and social workers.

Researching Special Education Schools for Your Child

Research on learning disabilities strongly supports early intervention in children who struggle academically. Children with a learning disability who receive proper attention and support to develop their weak areas are just as likely to be successful students as their peers without a disability, so long as their weaknesses are discovered early. Parents of students who need extra attention might want to consider special education schools. Learning about options in your area can help you select the right program.

The first place to start your search may be with an independent evaluation. A team of psychologists and social workers can evaluate your child to determine his or her eligibility. These learning experts may also recommend additional testing if they suspect that the student falls along the autism or language-based learning disabilities spectrum. Further evaluation may help pinpoint your child’s weakness or give some indication of the type of remediation that may be beneficial.

Once you have an idea of your child’s needs, start looking at the options your area. Making a list of priorities for your family can help narrow down your choices. Your list should include practical matters, such as location, transportation, availability of after-hours care and financial requirements are some examples.

Additionally, academic programs and resources should factor into your decision. Consider whether your student will benefit from tutors, assistive technology and smaller class size. Research the school’s policy on extended time or other accommodations for testing whether classes can be scheduled in a flexible manner. Many people with learning disabilities are of average or above average intelligence. Opportunities to participate in International Baccalaureate or Advanced Placement courses or a gifted program may be an important consideration. On the other hand, others learn best in a non-competitive environment in which lessons are project- or theme-based.

Finally, take the campus facilities and culture into consideration. Participating in extracurricular programs and sports can teach teamwork and sportsmanship to students who have trouble with social interactions. Conflict-resolution programs or a firm discipline policy may benefit some students.

Parents should also visit special education schools before making a decision. During your visit, sit in on a class to make sure that students receive enough individual attention. If the special education school utilizes a particular curriculum with which you are unfamiliar, request information about the program’s philosophy and methods. Ask questions about how study periods or homework sessions are structured. Teachers and administrators should have a system for providing regular updates about your child’s progress, so be certain that you are satisfied with the level of communication you can expect. Finally, ask for phone numbers of parents with children enrolled in the school before ending your visit. Speaking with parents of students who currently attend the school is a great way to find out more about the program.

Parents are the best advocates for children with learning disabilities. Exploring the educational options available and selecting the most effective special education curriculum can help ensure his or her academic success.

Navigating the Special Education Maze

As a school psychologist, as well as the mother of a child with a chronic health condition, I understand all too well the intimidation that accompanies entering the “bargaining” sessions of IEP meetings. There are ways, however, to stack the proverbial cards in your favor. Read on…

To begin with, be prepared for anything. Keep accurate documentation and note the dates and times that everything occurs. I am not exaggerating – EVERYTHING. Every phone call, every progress report, etc. Nothing is more intimidating to IEP teams than a parent who has prepared for their meeting. A parent with a Plan of their own is scary for us, because what if we look like idiots, or offend you? You have to come into meetings prepared for anything, almost as if you’re documenting for a Due Process hearing. You never know, you might have to “go there.”

Second, know your rights. Ask for a copy of your State’s Parental Rights in Special Education (PRISE) for your review before you attend any meeting at all. You can find the PRISE for your State by entering a search on Google.

Third, know you are an active participant and that no one can force a program on you or your child. For example, some schools will hand you an IEP that they’ve already devised before you got there, with hopes that the meeting will go quickly and you will just sign and leave. But that is like going to an Italian restaurant and all that’s on the menu is spaghetti. Your child is unique and to truly devise an individualized plan, all of those involved should plan on spending at least one hour talking through the parts of the plan that are going to affect the child academically and socio-emotionally.

Know what you want before you go in there. Have a Mission in mind, know your goals, and outline your strategies before you even step foot in that room. For example, you will need goals for your child. Make sure you’ve broken them down to the smallest components before you ask for them – you will be surprised how much more you get out of your request.

I.e., Goal: I want my child to be able to get – and hold – a job when they graduate.

Well, that is plain, isn’t it? If you broke it down, however, you would have:

I want my child to learn:

How to respect authority;

How to type;

How to honor time commitments;

How to respectfully interact with peers;

Etc.

Now, doesn’t that look more like what you were thinking?

You may not get all of them, but you will get some – and that is way more specific than “get a job,” so there will be a bit more work required of your Team. Good.

Third, know you will run into snags. There will be red tape you will have to circumvent; you will meet people whose goal it is to keep children from receiving services (yes, after all of those years of education, you would think we’re all in this for the children. Yet some of our colleagues are actually naysayers); you will hear all about how “this is not how we operate” when you present documentation proving otherwise; etc. You will certainly learn a lesson in frustration tolerance.

If you are lucky, you won’t have to deal with any of the above. But I doubt it.

Fourth, learn from the negatives and appreciate the positives. You will also learn some positive things, such as knowing when to give up. By this I don’t mean walking out on your plan, but knowing when to compromise.

Fifth, know your child is entitled to individuality. If you look at evaluations, they might all seem the same. You don’t want your child’s IEP to be just like everyone else’s, or they will be ignored. Trust me on this one. I have seen 1,000’s of IEPs and rarely does the school hold itself responsible for child failure. It is always “Johnny X” or “Johnny’s mom Y.” Make sure your child’s IEP delineates what has NOT been done for him – not just what has been.

“You just want us to fix what you’ve done wrong.”

Did that statement infuriate you? It is what most school staff thinks when you demand fair treatment.

My advice? Listen more than you speak and ask very specific questions – questions that merit elaboration on the part of your Team. Most of all, remain respectful. No one likes a bully, or someone who blames everything on everyone else.

Oh, and smile graciously as you lay your tape recorder on the conference table… 😉

Special Education Home Field Trips – White Water Rafting

Did you know there are white water rafting programs for special education kids, autistic kids, and kids with down-syndrome? Did you know that one ride down the river for these kids will be an event of a lifetime? Think about it. Best of all when kids of this nature experience something so radically different and new, it causes them use parts of their brains that have yet to be used much. Yes, that’s right it helps with brain development, just as if they were learning how to ride a bike, sing a song, or learn how to do a new skill. Okay so, let’s talk.

Some folks involved in providing such trips down the river for special needs kids tell of how it becomes a life changing experience, so to do the parents. Occasionally, it’s almost to the point that there was “little Junior before the white water rafting trip, and little Junior after.” Some parents note the difference is that profound – to which I say; wow. When I first heard about all this, I thought to myself, no, it couldn’t be that good, but the parents swear by it and the kids after doing it, they’ll never stop talking about it.

My question is; why does it work so well? Perhaps, because special kids maybe apprehensive about the water, fearful, and yet excited at the same time, well, that is just about everything you need for strong memory imprintation isn’t it? Okay so, I’ve read research papers on how the simple task of learning how to play a musical instrument, learning how to ride a bike, or interacting with an avatar on a computer helps develop these brains, and the empirical evidence has been show to prove it so. Thus, maybe these white water river rafting trips are akin to those other activities, but even more so, perhaps that’s why only one trip down the river is enough to trigger changes.

It’s not that normal (whatever that is) kids don’t also go away with experiences and memories that they cherish for years to come, they do too when it comes to river rafting, but for the special education kids who may not get the chance to do all those other activities that regular kids do consider it the most fun they’ve ever had in their lives, and it shows on their faces and their excitement every time anyone mentions it for long into the future. Indeed, I hope you will please consider all this and think on it.

Over-Identification of Minority Children in Special Education – What Can Be Done?

Are you concerned about the amount of minority children that are being diagnosed with disabilities in your school district? Are you worried about the large numbers of African American boys receiving special education services? Are you concerned about your child who is in a minority group and being found eligible for special education! Much has been written in the past several years about the increased numbers of poor African-American children receiving special education services. This article will discuss this issue, and also underlying causes of this.

In 1975 when the Education for All Handicapped Children Act was passed Congress found that poor African-American children were being placed in special education much more often than other children. These difficulties continue today. In the Findings section of IDEA 2004 Congress stated about the ongoing problems with the over-identification of minority children including mislabeling the children and high drop out rates.

About 9% of all school age children are diagnosed with a disability and receive special education services. But African-American children receive special education services at a rate about 40% higher than the national average across racial and ethnic groups at about 12.4%. Studies have shown that schools that have mostly white students and teachers, place a disproportionately high number of minority children in special education.

Also, rates of mental retardation and emotional/behavioral disturbance are extremely elevated within the African-American population, roughly twice the national average. Within the African-American population the incidence of mental retardation is approximately 220% higher than other ethnic groups. For emotional/behavioral disturbance the incidence is approximately 175% higher than other ethnic groups.

Factors that may contribute to disabilities include:

1. Health issues like prenatal care, access to medical care, child nutrition, and possible exposure to lead and other pollutants.

2. Lack of access to good quality medical care as well as services for any mental health disorders.

3. Cultural issues and values or stigma attached to disability

4. Discrimination along the lines of class and race!

5. Misdiagnosis of the child’s behavioral and academic difficulty.

A few ideas that could help decrease the over identification:

1. Better keeping of data to include increased information about race, gender, and race by gender categories. More detailed, systematic, and comprehensive data collections would provide a better sense of demographic representation in special education that could better help understand this issue.

2. More analytic research is needed to improve our understanding of the numerous factors that independently or in combination contribute to a disability diagnosis.

3. More people that are willing to help advocate for children in this situation. I believe that some of this issue, is related to the inability of some special education personnel to understand cultural differences.

4. Better and clearer guidelines for diagnosing disabilities that could reduce the potential for subjective judgments that are often cited for certain diagnosis.

5. More improvements are needed in general education to help children learn to read and keep up with their grade and age appropriate peers.

I hope over time this issue will get resolved so that all children receive an appropriate education.