Special Education Books all Special Ed Parents Should Read

As a parent, your child is your entire world. No matter what their needs or ability levels are, you want to make sure that you provide them with the best opportunities possible so that they can become well-rounded and self sufficient individuals. This is true for parents of all children, but it particularly rings true in the hearts of parents of special needs children.

If your child has special needs, no matter what those needs are, her education is likely at the forefront of your mind. In a world that sometimes seems as if it was created only for the fully abled, it can be particularly difficult to find an educational program that provides not only the right types of services for your child, but that whole-heartedly understands her particular needs.

The best way to ensure that your special needs child is receiving the right type of educational services is to be informed yourself. What is the best way to become and stay informed? By reading.

There is a huge amount of authoritative literature written by leading experts in the field of special education. Reading these books will not only inform you about the types of educational services your child needs, but it will also teach you what types of services are mandated by law.

In order to help you in your efforts for ensuring that your child receives what he needs in the educational setting, here is a list of books that should be on your reading list:

  1. A Sociology of Special Education: From this book, you will learn about the dynamic of the relationship between your special education child and the typically developing population. You’ll gain insight into why “normal” society (whatever “normal” may be) views your child as special and what that means for him or her.

  1. Research and Evaluation Methods in Special Education: This book dives into the principles that guide the teaching of special needs children. You will find out how teachers are taught to create plans for these students and evaluate their performance.

  1. Effective Instruction for Students with Special Needs: You’ll learn about all of the tools and tips that special education teachers are guided to use in the classroom in order to effectively teach your child based on her specialized needs. By reading this book, you will not only learn what your child should be experiencing in the classroom, but you’ll also gain useful insight into how you can effectively work with your child at home.

  1. Parents’ Complete Special-Education Guide: Tips, Techniques, and Materials for Helping Your Child Succeed in School and Life:  This book serves as a useful guide that will provide you with valuable information related to properly preparing your child for the school setting, as well as the world at large. You’ll learn about the regulations that are associated with the educational and vocational needs of your child, as well as his social and environmental needs. In addition, you’ll find out about your child’s unique educational developmental needs and the intervention that she should receive in order to become as successful as possible.

As a parent, you are your child’s first teacher. Provide your special needs child with the best opportunities for academic and social development with the knowledge that you gain from these books.

How to Create a Good Environment in an Inclusive Special Needs Classroom

Once you’ve managed to integrate special needs children into a mixed classroom, there’s still a road ahead:  getting them to feel part of the group on an extended basis.  To do this, teachers will want to make sure to pay attention to key areas in which special needs children can get lost in—or even led astray by—the crowd.  Here are the most important target areas in making special needs children forget any stigmas they may carry.

Classroom Guidance

If the special needs children in question have issues with spatial orientation, moving from one class to the next may be a big challenge.  In such cases, teachers should be sure to have a system set up for times of transition.  Should your school provide hall monitors for interim periods, they can be great monitors in between class periods.  Even better, securing a friendly peer who shares the special needs child’s pathway can be a more natural and inclusive way to keep everyone on track.

Structure Recess and Lunchtime Activities

Because recess is when the classroom has the least structure, it’s precisely the time when your efforts at inclusion may be challenged the most.  Special needs children who depend on guidance—kids with autism, for example—are more likely to get into conflict with other children when the rules are not so clear.  Without making children with special needs feel ostracized, teachers should subtly give these children either fun tasks or well-defined play activities to minimize the risks of things going awry.

Lunchtime, while centered around a clearly defined activity, can pose another set of challenges.  The school cafeteria is often a cacophony of competing signals, and among some special needs students, this can be anywhere from stressful to downright traumatic.  To remedy this situation, while cordoning off special needs children into a special area might incur as much stigmatization as it lessens over stimulation, a better option is to find subtle ways to seat more sensitive students in quieter, peripheral areas.

Think Out Seating Schemes

The cafeteria is an especially high-risk arena for seating conflicts, but the classroom can also be a war zone of distractions and even antagonism.  Special needs children with attention issues should be placed in the seating chart so that you can always make eye contact with them and gently guide them back to the lecture without saying a word.

However, while you want to place such children close to you, positioning them front and center might make them feel self-conscious, so use the front few rows and the closest aisle seats.  On a different plane, if you see a pattern of bullying emerging, make sure to break it up:  reassign not only the special needs child but also any ostensible cliques who’ve bonded through group harassment.

Allow For “Special Needs Time”

When it comes to in-class writing assignments, special needs children may run on a different clock, whether it’s because of impaired coordination and small motor skills or an attention deficit.  For this reason, teachers will need to give different time limits to special needs students but at the same time should not call attention to that fact.

For the same reasons, all teachers should be aware that special needs children might be not understand a direction at first.  When a class becomes unruly, special needs students often join in the fray uncontrollably.  Because they see problem behavior all around them, they don’t see any negative consequences and then not register the teacher’s reprimands.  In such cases, teachers need to be sure not to unduly punish special needs children who were unclear over the boundaries of decorum.

In all of these circumstances, the key is to do your best in not making special needs students feel as though they are being singled out.  Sometimes, the best way to do this is through simple honesty rather than through elaborate ruses everyone can see through.  Everyone may benefit from being candidly told that certain students have little differences that don’t really make them that different.  Remember, children can often be a lot wiser that we think.

What Are the Best Games for Special Needs Children?

While there are enough kids games out there that you could never go through them all, games for special needs children are often harder to find. There isn’t the same variety of games designed specifically for children with special needs, and many of the games that are can be very expensive.

However, many children with special needs can benefit from playing with regular off-the-shelf toys – if they’re playing with the right ones. Below, you’ll find a list of some of the best games for special needs children that you can purchase through most toy stores or online retailers.

Toys With Large Parts

Many children with cerebral palsy or other conditions that make controlled movement difficult can benefit from playing with toys with large parts instead of smaller ones. That’s because children with motor skills impairment can easily pick up the toys, move them around, and play with them even with limited motor control.

Example: Lego Duplo Basic Bricks. Lego Duplo Basic Bricks are a simple set of Lego building blocks, but instead of the normal, very small pieces that can be difficult for children with motor skills issues to play with, the Duplo Basic Bricks set is comprised of much larger pieces – some a few inches in diameter.

With the Duplo Basic Bricks set, you can help your child make basic patterns or construct toy people, or just let them build free-form shapes on their own. Many children with motor skills issues enjoy large building blocks, and they may be able to help children develop spatial recognition skills.

Large Pop-Up Books

If you’ve ever been in a toy store, you’ve probably seen those huge pop-up books that take up half of a store shelf. These are ideal for many kids that can’t turn the pages of smaller books, as they allow a child the joy of reading and experiencing a story on their own.

Like building blocks, pop-up books can help some children build spatial recognition skills, as the pop-up part of the book can often be helpful in teaching children about height, depth, and three-dimensional objects.

Cause and Effect Toys

For children with autism, cause and effect toys – the type where a sound is made when a button is pushed for example – are the most beneficial. These types of toys promote interaction and can help autistic children to respond physical and verbal stimulation in an effective way.

Example: V-Tech Tote & Go Laptop. The V-Tech Tote & Go Laptop is a toy that looks like a brightly-colored scaled down version of a regular laptop. What the toy does, however, is teach kids about letters and words through fun games and interaction.

To use the laptop, children can either respond verbally or press a button on the toy’s keyboard in response.

iPad Games

The iPad is a technological innovation that has been used in a multitude of ways for children with special needs, because it’s interactive and easy for many children to handle. While there are too many games and apps to cover here, there are a few that have become particularly popular among parents with special needs children.

Example: ArtikPix. ArtikPix is a simple app for the iPad that uses matching activities and flashcards in a fun way to help children with speech-sound delays, which can affect children with a variety of different conditions. Best of all, ArtikPix is fun enough that kids will want to play by themselves, though it can be used by speech pathologists and parents as well.

Example: Abilipad. Abilipad is an iPad app that basically turns the screen into a writing and drawing surface for kids that may otherwise have difficulty communicating via written words. The Abilipad app also has word-prediction features and a text-to-speech function, helping kids understand how the words they speak can be translated into written text.

Children with special needs don’t always need special treatment when it comes to toys. While many of the toys listed above are somewhat educational, they’re also a lot of fun for most kids.

If a toy isn’t fun, a child isn’t going to want to play with it – which gives it no educational value at all. Make sure you test out any toys to see if your kids like them, before trying to make them part of your child’s regular play routine.

8 Tips to Integrate Special Ed Kids into Classroom Activities

Kids who require special education aren’t vastly different from most other kids, outside of the manner in which they learn and retain information.

That means they still enjoy having fun, learning new things, interacting with other kids and just being themselves. So whenever it’s possible, integrating them in regular classroom activities at school can be extremely beneficial for the child.

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It can also benefit the teachers and classroom environment as a whole, considering that the more special ed kids are able to participate, the easier it will be for a teacher to instruct a full classroom and not have to divide their resources between two different types of classroom.

Here are a few ways to get special ed kids more involved with classroom activities:

1. Drawing — This might only fit the curriculum in a handful of classes and situations, but drawing is a non-threatening activity that students of all learning styles and abilities can engage in. If you’re looking for a specific activity to bring a group of students together, drawing is a good option. Avoid front-of-the-class presentation so kids won’t be worried about being embarrassed.

2. Reading Time — You’ll want to measure reading by time instead of by length of a book covered. Many special ed students will be slower readers and will struggle to keep up, so institute a reading period of 20 minutes or so, and whatever is covered is fine.

Just be sure that everyone is paying attention to the material and not being distracting.

3. More time to complete work — Extending deadlines for some kids and not others is tough, but consider being more lenient with those kids who have special needs or learning disabilities. They’re going to have a much more difficult time completing things like writing and reading assignments, so don’t put pressure on them to perform at the same level as the other kids.

While you don’t have to announce the discrepancy in due dates, don’t dole out punishment or correction to special needs kids as quickly as other.

4. Recess — Recess can be a great chance for special needs kids to feel integrated with the rest of their peers, yet it can also be an extremely discouraging time for them. Keep an eye on your class during recess and make sure put a stop to any bullying or rough play directed at special needs, or really any kids on during recess. If you avoid that, it should be a positive experience for any child who might feel a little out of place in the classroom.

5. Painting — Like drawing, painting is a great non-threatening educational activity, that many special needs kids will enjoy and possibly even excel at.

6. Question/Answer — Give the entire classroom, including the special needs kids a chance to answer some questions. Don’t limit their ability to participate, even if their answers might not be as well-informed as others. Steer their answers in the right direction, and help them succeed.

7. Avoid a one-size-fits-all approach — It’s critical to understand that even without special needs kids, the learning tendencies of students will differ from child to child. For a teacher with 30 kids, it’s hard to think that way, yet it’s necessary for a genuine educational experience to take place.

8. Patience — Lastly, make sure to exercise as much patience as possible for special needs children in a regular classroom. Chances are they just want to fit in, and the gentler you are in the way you approach them, the more successful they’re going to be and the more they’ll be able to learn.

Successful Transition

A special needs child might be met with a bit of a learning curve when confronted with a regular classroom, but with the right kind of environment and attention, they can have a successful transition, and can be productive members of that classroom.