Counselor Role in Special Education
My perception of the school counselor’s role in special education is that it largely mirrors the role embodied for all students, but with some added considerations and collaborations for the special needs student. My understanding is that a school counselor should be available to all students for personal, ethical, academic, career, and social advice; to listen to a student’s point of view; to deal with any mental health issues that may arise for a student; to help a student prepare for transitions; to advocate for a student in a given situation, and to whatever degree possible, teach the student to advocate for himself. A counselor must be committed to helping all students reach their full potential; but for students with disabilities and other special needs, a school counselor needs to accomplish this in the face of extra challenges. These tasks and trials are not limited to those presented by the varying disabilities of a child, but include the demands of satisfying the administrative and legal requirements of a counselor serving students with special needs. Today’s school counselor is likely to be involved in a student’s individualized education program (IEP) when one is warranted. According to the Ohio Department of Education’s Office for Exceptional Children, at least one of the IEP team members needs to be an individual who has knowledge or special expertise regarding the child. This person is in addition to the child’s regular and special education teachers, a principal/assistant principal or other senior staff member, the parents, the school psychologist, and the child (if appropriate) required to participate on the team. The school counselor, at the discretion of the parent or the school district, may be included as a member of the IEP team if they have special insight regarding the child. A school counselor will work as part of a multidisciplinary team within the school and community in aligning and providing...
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