Tag Archive for: special needs

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.

Demanding. Rewarding. Fulfilling. These are some of the words used to describe working with special needs children by those who have or are currently doing the job. As with parenting, it could be said that working with special needs children is the “toughest job you’ll ever love”.

From a heightened sense of accomplishment to a potentially life-altering perception of those less fortunate, there are many positive aspects to this type of work. Is it for everyone? No. But it just may be for you.



Satisfaction Guaranteed

Whether it’s teaching the child with special needs in an inclusive classroom or in a separate special education program, teachers who have successfully worked with these students often describe the satisfaction they feel when the material is–sometimes, at long last–understood.

Why is this ultimately more satisfying that teaching in a traditional classroom, to traditional students?

Successes in working with these children are measured in inches, not feet. Even the smallest achievements of a special needs child is cause for celebration; the road to that achievement has likely been longer and rougher than for those without disabilities.

Setbacks, time spent coming up with more creative approaches to the material and even physically violent episodes might litter the road to that “Eureka!” moment when a special needs child grasps the concept being taught.

‘Part of the Job Description’

Yes, special needs children can kick. Or punch. But many teachers feel that this just comes with the territory. “It’s part of our job description,” was how special education director Kami Finger addressed it.

And these episodes can be offset by the knowledge that they’re doing the work that needs to be done for these children. Up to point when they have gotten a child to understand that math problem or that history lesson, they have already put in a lot of time, not just in the classroom but outside of it as well.

They’ve likely:

  • spent countless hours coming up with new and original ways to deliver the material

  • written several lesson plans, possibly one for each special needs child in their classroom

  • attended special training and special meetings

All this, too: just part of the job description.

The Patience of a Saint?

Does one truly need the “patience of a saint” to work with children with special needs? While it’s true that the job does require patience in abundance, some say that it more needs compassion and understanding and the will to work with those whom the school system–and even life itself–might easily leave behind.


Working with special needs children can make you more aware of their plight in everyday society. It might help you not just at the moment but in many future moments to come. You’re likely to encounter an adult in a wheelchair, or with a personality disorder, at some time in your life. How you approach and interact with that person can be benefited by the fact that you work or worked with special needs children.

You just might come away with more of an appreciation of all people and how they develop, not just your students’ but your own children as well. You might learn patience, yes; and tolerance, and acceptance, and empathy. It doesn’t need to be seen as saintly, just human.

And that’s the payoff for all the hard work. For enduring that aforementioned job description. Working with special needs children can be difficult at the moment you’re doing it. But the dividends it can pay could last the rest of your life.

If you have a child with special needs, learning about special education terminology and laws can make a significant difference in your child’s educational career. From the supports offered to enforcement of their IEP, your knowledge of special education is fundamental for your child’s success. Review this infographic to get an overview of special education:


For children with special needs, learning can be a quite the struggle. Maybe they are unable to work at the same pace as their classmates and need extra help from their teacher. Or perhaps they learn in a way that is different from their peers, which can be frustrating and leave them feeling “different.”

For example, a recent article in The Atlantic found children with special needs were having difficulty with the Common Core program used in classrooms across the United States. And another recent article in the Miami Herald says students with special needs are struggling with mandated state educational tests.

Obviously no parent or teacher wants to see a child troubled and feeling like a failure. So how can they “re-frame” this idea for kids with special needs — how can parents and educators work together to help these students get motivated, stay focused and leave them feeling great about their educational success?


P is for Practice

From the start, parents need to put a practice into place that puts an emphasis on education. A study from the University of Leicester and University of Leeds — and published on ScienceDaily — found parents’ involvement and support in a child’s education is crucial to its success. So for all children — including those with special needs — having a home environment that is makes education a priority, and practices that consistently, is critical.

L is for Lessons

For teachers who have a child with special needs in the classroom, lesson planning becomes very important as they now have to take in consideration the learning capabilities of this student. As we have covered in our blog before, we recommend teachers take the time to plan ahead and make accommodations for any students with special needs, and do what they can to make sure the student feels involved to help boost their overall self-esteem.

M is for Modeling

Modeling can be a very effective tool for younger students when you want to show and teach them good behavior skills, such as self-esteem. An article on the website of the National Educational Association gives some great tips on how teachers can be great behavioral role models for their students, from showing respect to thinking out loud. And parents also need to be models — Purdue University found children watch and learn from what their parents say and do. So if you want your child to have a better attitude towards their education, model is for them!

G is for Goals


Goals can be a great way for any type of student to get more excited about their education. An article on LD Online says children who have special needs should be encouraged to set goals for their education, as well as other areas of their life, as it helps them determine their hopes, dreams and desires.

C is for Communication

As with any relationship, communication is very important. In this instance, it’s important for parents and teachers to be constantly communicating with the student in a way they’re going to understand. The good news is that many of the tips we’ve already covered — modeling, goal creating, lesson planning — are all concrete ways of communicating to the student they are not a failure. However, it’s important to continually communicate and praise your student as they succeed in their education.