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The word “perfect” can be a bit of a misnomer. Most people know that rarely anything or anyone in this world is truly “perfect.” However, that doesn’t mean that perfection can’t be achieved, especially when it comes to special education.

For parents and caregivers of children with special needs, finding the perfect learning experience for them can be quite a challenge, and it can depend on a few different factors.


The Needs of the Child

Children with learning disabilities or speech impediment may only need an education curriculum that only has them receiving special education a few hours a day or week. On the other end of the spectrum, students with severe physical or mental disabilities may need a much more intensive special education curriculum that encompasses their entire educational year.

The Needs of the Parent

The parents of children with special needs have their own ideas on how they wish their child to learn. For example, some caregivers may wish their child to have an inclusive education where they spend as much time in a classroom with peers of all abilities as they can. And other parents may want their student with special needs to have a more individualized education where they can get the one-on-one attention they need.

The School System


Some schools can easily embrace the needs and wants of both special education students and their caregivers as they have enough special education staffing and programs in plus. However, some school systems may be smaller with not as many resources, and they may have a harder time making this happen.

So with all these factors in play, how can parents and teachers work together to make the “perfect” special education curriculum for their child? Here’s a few tips to help you get started.

Work Together

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s so important it’s worth spelling out. One of the most important parts of creating the perfect special education curriculum is for everyone involved — parents, caregivers, teachers, school administrators, and even students — to work together. If a curriculum is developed by only one party, and it ends up not meeting the needs of everyone involved, then it will certainly fall short of being “perfect.” Everyone having a say and working together is key.

Review & Discuss

Nine out of 10, your local school system will already have a special education curriculum in place. However, that does not mean it should not be reviewed and discussed by everyone involved on a regular basis to make sure it’s meeting everyone’s needs. Consider establishing a Parent Advisory Committee with parents of children with special needs representing different districts, such as what they have at Wayne County RESA in Michigan.

Use Available Resources

There are tons of resources out there today that can help both parents and teachers build the “perfect” special education curriculum for their students. For example, teachers will find a wealth of information at the National Center for Learning Disabilities, everything from creating a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to classroom strategies. And for parents, again the National Center for Learning Disabilities has a variety of information, including intervention strategies, parent-teacher communications, and tips for school meetings.


Parents and guardians of children with special needs are faced with many decisions they need to make every day — what doctors to go to, what medical treatments to try, how do they meet all of their child’s needs each day. The process can be quite overwhelming!

Caregivers also have to make important decisions when it comes to their child’s education. And again, depending on what type of special needs their child has, the endeavor can sometimes leave parents with more questions than answers.

Types of Special Education

One of the most important questions parents will need to answer is what type of special education learning environment do they want for their child. Different schools offer different options, from full inclusion classrooms to specialized smaller group classes where more intensive help is needed. And depending on your child’s special needs and personality, different situations may be more suitable for them.

The good news is today, thanks to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), most schools are equipped to help students with special needs. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2009 about 95 percent of students who have disabilities aged 6 to 21 were served in regular schools, meaning they did not have to attend a private school or another type of institution.

The first step is to make an appointment with your child’s school to speak with your child’s teacher, principal and anyone else involved in the special education program to find out what options are available, and which options they recommend for certain disabilities and for your child in particular. According to an article on SchoolPsychologistFiles.com, schools are required to place students with special needs in the “Least Restrictive Environment,” part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA) of 2004. That means if children with special needs should be allowed to learn with their peers as much as their special needs allows them to. This would then become part of the student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

Caregivers should also get feedback from their doctors for their recommendations and guidance.

To help you get started, here’s a look at some of the special education options traditionally offered in schools to give you some background on what you can expect.

Inclusion Classroom

An example of a Least Restrictive Environment for a student with special needs would as part of an inclusion classroom. According to the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, this would allow that student to learn alongside their peers — regardless if they have special needs or not. And during the day students with special needs are given all the services they require, so students with special needs are not pulled out of class during the day, but instead get to stay and work with their peers.


For some special needs, students can still do the majority of their learning in a standard classroom and then receive specialized help a few times a week or month from a specialist – such as the school psychologist, a language specialist, or special education teacher – resulting in a teamwork approach to the student’s education.

Resource Room

Another option your school might have is a resource room for students with special needs. In this type of environment, students with special needs are in a smaller class with a special education teacher, allowing for more attention to be paid to those who may have greater needs. Depending on the program, students may spend time in the Resource Room for just a few hours a day, or receive the bulk of their education in this environment.

Day/Out-of-District Placement

For those students with severe needs, or schools that are unable to address all of a student’s needs, sometimes these children are better served attending a specialized school outside your hometown.