Special education: Then and now

Special Education services have come a long way since its inception in the mid-1970s.

Adults may remember seeing students in the small classroom down the hall and who you never interacted with or even saw during the school day. Thankfully, services have changed dramatically to where we are today.

The purpose of Special Education is to level the playing field so that it is fair for students who struggle.

With that said, our students with special needs are exposed to the same state standards as regular education students. Our special needs students obtain their services in a variety of ways, which depends on the needs of each individual child.

Some special needs children are in a regular classroom for small parts of the day to learn the state standards as well as for socialization skills.

Then, that same student may go into a resource room to reinforce those same concepts or to work on other concepts that are needed, such as life skills.

That student may also be pulled out with other students to receive occupational therapy, physical therapy and/or speech/language therapy.

Other special needs students may be in a regular classroom the entire day with minimal assistance. The nice piece of an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, is that it is designed to meet the needs of each child with special needs. The IEP is created to meet the needs of the student while preparing them for real life.

A team mentality is really needed in order to help these students.

Overall, the progress that we have observed in some students is amazing. We have students who were nonverbal and who are now initiating to interact with adults and other students.

We have had other students who have gone onto college and who have made the dean’s list.

Kathy Gilbert is director of special education for Springboro Community City Schools.

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