SPE-226 Educating the Exceptional Learner
August 30, 2014
Perceptions and attitudes towards students with disabilities have changed tremendously in recent years. Organizations and laws have also made education and everyday living a more positive experience for students with disabilities and their families. This paper will discuss this further as well as the challenges faced by educators, as well as my own predictions that students with disabilities will be faced with in their future. Personal experiences will also be shared regarding experiences in an environment with individuals with special needs.
From the beginning of time, children with disabilities were perceived as an unnecessary burden to society. They were viewed as “deformed children” and considered weak, shamed, and undesirable. In Nazi Germany in 1939 under Hitler’s reign, a planned extermination of “the mentally and physically disabled” under Operation T4 began (Hardman, Drew, Egan, 2013). This was a way for the German government to purify the human race and to put individuals “out of their misery” (United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 2011). Eventually, the genocide evolved into less harsh matters such as sterilization and planned social isolation, using facilities such as institutions, hospitals, asylums, or even prisons. Families tried to stay together, but removing a disabled child from his or her home and ultimately from society, was seen as protecting the individual from further spread of their genetic code, social deviance, and allowed them to be with others with similar conditions.
Luckily in the late 1940’s groups such as the United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) and National Association for Retarded Children (NARC) began to form. These groups fought for the rights and appropriate services to be made available for all children with special needs, regardless of the extent of their handicap. In 1958, the National Defense Education Act was signed giving the Federal government involved with education. Special education was soon on its way to being accepted and the Bureau for the Education of the Handicapped began creating grants for students with disabilities. With Mills vs. Board of Education, students were turned away from schools due to their disabilities. This led to laws such as The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, which is now known as IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act), which has over 1990 amendments to the original law (Martin, Martin, Terman, 1996). This shows major strides in how children with disabilities are viewed in today’s society. IDEA has five major provisions, which are believed to influence the education of students with disabilities. Free and appropriate public education is specifically designed to meet each individual’s unique needs while preparing them for their future in the workforce and independent living. All schools nondiscriminatory and multidisciplinary assessments when making determinations in regards to the individual student’s needs in the classroom. Getting parents or guardians involved in decisions is encouraged with the program as well. An IEP, or individualized education program is established for each child. Inclusion is encouraged with each individual so that children with a disability can receive the most appropriate classroom experience with their peers (Hardman, Drew, Egan, 2013).
One of the things that I feel students with disabilities will always face as a challenge is the inclusion into a regular classroom. Having to keep up with curriculum standards designed by the state and local administrators can be difficult, even with an IEP in place. There is added pressure to keep up and when the child is taken out of the classroom for one-on-one work with another teacher, they can feel they are missing out on classroom activities and even homeroom teachers may feel they have to do more work to keep the students up to date and back on track upon returning to class. We need to have the...
References: Hardman, M.L., Drew, C.J., & Egan, M.W. (2013) Human Exceptionality: School, community,
and, family (11th ed). Belmont,CA: Cengage Learning
Martin, E.W., Martin, R., Terman, D., (1996) The Legislative and Litigation History of Special
Education. The Future of Children: Special Education for Students with
Disabilities, Vol. 6(1).
http://www.ushmm.org/research Retrieved August 29, 2014 United Stated Holocaust Memorial
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