History of Special Education

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Special education has changed in many different ways
throughout the last century. The views of they way
students with differences should be taught and treated
have changed as people have become more open minded.
The education laws have also seen a turn about. One
major area of education was in a desperate need of
changed opinions and beliefs. Education for children
with learning problems has emerged from no education to
special funding and programs especially for those
individuals with learning problems.
The first phase of special education is the largest
span of time. The Foundation Phase was from 1800 to
1930, children who had any sign of learning problems
were labeled as dumb, retarded, and even brain injured.
The reason students would have been labeled as brain
injured is because of studies done on war victims and
soldiers of war. Many soldiers had head injuries and
the way they acted related very similarly to the way
"brain injured" students acted. At this time period
researchers and doctors located the area of the brain
related to language, or the language function of the
The Transition Phase began in 1930 and lasted until
1960. This phase had some turning points in the way
"brain injured" children were taught. Researchers
developed instruments for assessment, analyzed specific
Atwell 2
types of learning problems and also presented a plan for
teaching "brain injured" children. At this stage the
labeling of the children with learning problems was not
as harsh as "brain injured". The students were called
"children with minimal brain dysfunction".
The turning phase for the education of students
with learning problems was the Integration Phase, 1960
to 1980. There was a man by the name of Samuel Kirk,
who came up with the name "learning disabled". After
this term took the place of "brain injured" and "minimal
brain dysfunction", it seemed like there was hope for
children with learning problems....
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