Practice Areas

Should children in special needs programs be taught separately?

Some parents don’t know if they should put their child into a special education program because they’re worried it may separate their child socially.

If you’re noticing disability symptoms in your child, you should consider whether special needs education might help. In some cases, that may mean a separate learning environment.

Your unique situation

No two children are exactly alike, even if they share the same disability. For this reason, special educators should be aware of each student’s individual goals and required services. If your child has a qualifying disability under the IDEA, the school’s education program team will evaluate these factors to decide the placement that best helps your child succeed academically, socially, behaviorally and emotionally.

School educators and professionals should seek the least restrictive environment for your child to learn in. This may or may not require change throughout the day.

Short-term solutions

Resource programs are designed for students who have short-term disabilities that can be resolved through specialized instruction they receive outside of regular class.

For example, if your child has a speech impediment, he or she may be able to reach education goals in class with other children throughout the day. However, to work through their disability, the child would be pulled from class to focus on speech skills in a resource program.

Long-term special education

On the other hand, some disabilities completely change all of the education goals for a student. For example, students with an intellectual disability will likely take more time to master a skill than other children their age. Separating a child with an intellectual disability from the rest of their class will lend them more opportunity to work toward their education goals at their own pace.

These programs are called “self-contained” because they usually last the entire day throughout the school year. However, your child will still have social opportunity, as these programs are typically made up of many children who have similar special needs.

Somewhere in between

Most students in the U.S. who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) spend most of their school day in a general education classroom. That’s because most special education programs can be adjusted to fit the environment that’s best for your child.

For example, students with mobility issues may only require an aid to help them pass between classes or use the restroom. Similarly, as time goes on, your child may require more or less attention, depending on his or her disability.

You can learn more about your child’s right to a meaningful education by speaking with a special education attorney about your individual circumstance.

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