Special Learners

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Special learners are individuals whose physical attributes and/or learning abilities differ from the norm. Students who are mentally impaired, learning disabled, visually impaired, hearing impaired, physically challenged, and gifted and talented are often identified as special learners. Music is a vital part of the education of all learners including special learners. Music is a valuable content area and can be used as an aid in developing basic skills for all learners. Children learn to learn through music activities. Music helps develop skills that are necessary for cognitive, affective, and psychomotor skills which are utilized in all areas of the school curriculum. Learners with disabilities can benefit through music instruction, music refines their auditory, language, visual, and motor skills. Inclusive classrooms allow children with disabilities to participate in class and extracurricular activities, and learn with and befriend their peers. Generally before 1975, special learners were isolated and placed in self-contained classes. In 1975, Congress passed Public Law 94-142 (Education of All Handicapped Children Act), now codified as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act). With the passage of PL 94-142, students with disabilities were to be educated in the least restrictive environment which became the regular elementary classroom. Individual education programs (IEP's) were developed to meet the needs of each special learner. In 1997, the amended version of IDEA (PL 105-17) was passed. The 1997 Amendments include changes for students with disabilities and their families. This law ensures that the IEP team including classroom and music teachers must educate and include all children in the classroom. Classroom and music teachers are entrusted to reach and teach all students including students with special needs. To encourage music learning, teachers must provide...
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