Category Archives: Frequently Asked Questions

How are Early Childhood Special Education Programs Funded?

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Early childhood special education programs are essential to providing families the first line of service in detecting in developmental concerns with regards to their children. These services are provided and protected by federal legislation, state agencies, and other authorities but require massive funding in order to function and serve. By proving to be an expensive task, school districts and local early intervention providers often must continually seek other funding revenues to ensure that families’ and children’s rights are protected while providing the most appropriate early childhood special education services. This requires teams of people – from grant writers to special education teachers to physical therapists and beyond – to help ensure that children with developmental delays, disabilities, and illnesses get the help that they need as the following sections indicate and illustrate.

What are Early Childhood Special Education Services?

Early childhood special education services programs are for children 0-5 years of age. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), private grant organizations, states, and the federal government assist in providing funding for these services. According to the IDEA law, families and their children have rights that cover the initial screening process through receiving services that must be adhered to by all involved parties. Being that the children are so very young at this stage, unless there have predominant features or physical impairments that prevent them from developing as that of their peers, these children typically will receive global services under the umbrella of developmental delay. Developmental delay is mostly determined by how far behind the child may be according to a child their age developmental progress. However, the more pervasive delays such as hearing, vision, eating, oral language, and fine/gross motor impairments will warrant direct services from a credentialed individual qualified to provide specific services.

How Children are Identified for Early Childhood Special Education Services

One of the key goals of all early childhood special education programs is to detect potential delays as early as possible and provide the necessary interventions. All states are required to provide parents with opportunities to find out about early intervention services locally. Children can be referred to the local early interventionist by their pediatricians or based upon the inquiry of a concerned parent. Early intervention or Part C services can begin as early as when a child leaves the hospital after birth or neonatal intensive care units. Part C services are usually for children ages 0-3. Once assessments are completed, the family and early intervention agency will determine whether or not the child qualifies for services. Once the decision is made that the child qualifies to receive services, a plan to service the child will be created that includes as much of the family as possible. Early interventionist programs may often call this a family services plan. The child is usually assigned an in-home case manager that comes to the parent’s home and demonstrates skills that are outlined in the family education service plan. If the child requires more specific services, the service provider may also come to the home. If the child has severe challenges, they may need to receive services at a facility.

If the child is tested and found eligible for services through a school district, they will receive their education at one of the school district’s preschool special education classrooms under Part B services. Here, the student will attend a classroom setting with a special education preschool teacher and specialists such as physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech pathologist will provide services for the child during their school hours. The family is included in the development of services based upon the child’s individualized education plan. Children are eligible to receive early childhood special education service ages 2-5. Whether the child receives services from their early interventionist program or the school district, families have legal rights to be included in every part of the process.

How Early Childhood Special Education Programs are Funded

In most states once a child turns two years of age, parents can either decide on whether or not their child will be screened to possibly be found eligible to receive special education services through early intervention or their local school district. The local government’ budget and grants makes up most of the early intervention funding. Unlike general education, special education programs require staff with specialization skills and certain credentials to work with the children. Therefore, the school systems and local government will need to pay these specialists competitive wages to provide services. The local government receives less than a fourth of federal funding actually needed to make sure that the services are provided according what the child education plan. Consequently, if the school district and early intervention programs were to short cut the services offered based upon budgeting restrictions, they would stand in jeopardy for breaking federal law on behalf of the child.

When applying for federal funding, all local school districts must complete an application through their state’s department of education office. Once the application has been approved at the state level, it is submitted with all other school district applications to the federal IDEA funding office for review and allocation of funds. If approved at the federal level, funds will be handed over the state’s education department to then be dispersed to the local school districts. Money is also available for the early interventionist through the federal Office of Special Education Programs. The early interventionist agencies must submit a public application for grant funding to their state government office. Once it is approved by the state, the application then goes to the Office of Special Education Programs. The grant is awarded to the state, followed by the state releasing the allocated grant funds to the various early intervention agencies.

When considering other funding opportunities, these grants have more flexibility in allowing the agencies to apply directly rather than through their state’s government.

Other funding options include:
Autism Society of America – Scholarships for schools and service providers serving students with autism
Federal Grants – Offered by the U.S. Government
– Itaalk for Autism – Grants for communication devices
The United Way – Provides charitable donations to early intervention programs
Little People Association – Provides funding for individuals with dwarfism
The Morgan Project – Offers small grants, gently used equipment
Hands to Angels – Gives grants for identifying and preventing rare genetic disorders

Can I Receive College Credit for Social Work Experiences I Have Already Completed?

experienceStudents interested in earning a social work degree will benefit from both classroom theory and hands-on practice with actual case studies. If you already have work experience in this field, it is possible to receive some form of college credit for it in many cases. The exact number of work experience credits usually depends on your total years spent on the job, the policies of your college or university, and the level of degree you plan to complete. The following options may be open to you for obtaining college credit in exchange for previous experience working in the field of social work.

Submitting an Academic Portfolio

Since social work courses are outside the scope of general education courses, credit by exam isn’t available for these classes. Some college social work departments will accept a portfolio as an alternative. Documents to include are detailed letters of recommendation from work supervisors, any related licenses or credentials and any other awards earned on the job. The advising faculty reviews each portfolio before making a definite decision to grant credit. Some schools that offer the portfolio option may require new students to first enroll in a course on how to put together a professional portfolio in a specific format.

Enrolling in an Assessment Degree Program

A few accredited universities offer these types of degree programs that combine past documented social work experience with classroom or online learning. You will usually need to demonstrate past fundamental knowledge acquired on the job. You also may need to complete at least one capstone course and an internship. Admission to these assessment programs also relies heavily on written recommendations from past supervisors or managers. The two most successful and reputable online college assessment programs are found at Excelsior College of New York and Thomas Edison State College of New Jersey.

Credits For Undergraduate Degrees

When enrolling in an undergraduate social work program, you may be able to receive credits for past work experience. According to most policies within social work school departments, the same credit is not granted for graduate level social work programs. The good news for prospective graduate students is that an undergraduate major in social work is generally not required for admission to most social work graduate degree programs. Credit for work or life experience can be applied to an undergraduate degree in another field before you finish and apply to graduate school.

Considerations for Social Work Degree Programs

Not all colleges and universities grant credit for past social work towards an undergraduate degree, so do your research carefully on several schools. Credits are determined on a case-by-case basis, and many social work departments have varying evaluation criteria for giving work experience college credits. Holding a current social worker license can count toward college credits at some specific schools.

When making your decision to earn a social work degree, make a list of schools that may be a good fit for you. Find out the names of the advising faculty and contact them by phone or email. Ask questions about the social work department’s policy on granting credit for social work experience. Be specific about your past experience and any licenses or certificates you currently have. Write down the information you get from the advising staff about getting credit for your work experience and use it for making your final choice of a social work degree program.

What Are Some of the Best Books About Special Needs Children?

booksspecedMany parents of children with special needs will read every book the hits the shelves about their child’s specific need but not all are worth the time and money. Here is a limited list of good reference and resource books for parents, siblings and children:

Attention Deficit Disorder

Commanding Attention: A Parent and Patient Guide to More ADHD Treatment by Tess Messer MPH

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Written by a physician’s assistant and parent to an ADHD child, Commanding Attention explores the many conventional and unconventional treatment options for ADHD children and offers a personal insight into the world of ADD from a clinical perspective but delivers the information in an entertaining and objective manner.

To purchase Commanding Attention: A Parent and Patient Guide to More ADHD Treatment by Tess Messer MPH, go here.

Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets (Adventures of Everyday Geniuses) by Barbara Esham, Mike Gordon and Carl Gordon

mrsg
Written for young grade school age children, Wiggle Fidgets tells the story of, David and his struggle with ADHD in school.

To purchase Mrs. Gorski, I Think I Have the Wiggle Fidgets (Adventures of Everyday Geniuses) by Barbara Esham, Mike Gordon, and Carl Gordon, go here

Autism

A Parent’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome & High-Functioning Autism by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, and James McPartland

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A guide written for parents with children suffering from high-functioning forms of autism, the text is filled with information for parents to help focus their child’s energies and talents into the appropriate channels and assist with social nuances and situations.

To purchase A Parent’s Guide to Asperger Syndrome & High-Functioning Autism by Sally Ozonoff, Geraldine Dawson, and James McPartland, go here.

Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book by Celeste Shally

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An autistic boy and his friend navigate social situations together and demonstrate that friendship has not limitations. Easy to read for young children.

To purchase Since We’re Friends: An Autism Picture Book by Celeste Shally, go here.

Ten Things Every Child with Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition by Ellen Notbohm

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This book offers a hopeful perspective from an author that has first hand experience as the mother of autistic children. The text encourages working with the autistic child and their way of doing things rather than attempting to force the child to act in a manner that is contrary to their nature.

To purchase Ten Things Every Child With Autism Wishes You Knew: Updated and Expanded Edition by Ellen Notbohm, go here.

 

Blindness and Visually Impaired

The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen

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The daughter of Chinese royalty was born blind but with the help of doctors and men of magic, she will discover a new way to “see” the world without the use of her eyes. Fairy tale-like depiction for children to enjoy.

To purchase The Seeing Stick by Jane Yolen, go here.

Deafness and Hearing Impaired

The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul Dubois Jacobs

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Book for young children about a musician having recently suffered loss of his hearing but discovering he can still create and enjoy music. Written by real-life musician, Pete Seeger.

To purchase The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul Dubois Jacobs, go here.

Diabetes

Raising Teens with Diabetes: A Survival Guide for Parents by Moira McCarthy, Jake Kushner MD and Barbara J. Anderson PhD

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A guide for parents raising teenagers with diabetes. Includes strategies to get the teens to adhere to their diet and medication schedules and other recommendations and advice dealing with this difficult age and the disease.

To purchase Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Survival Guide for Parents by Moira McCarthy, Jake Kushner MD and Barbara J. Anderson PhD, go here.

Even Little Kids Get Diabetes by Connie Pirner

little kids
An easy to read book for children that explains the disease in simple terms and helps the reader understand what it means to live with diabetes.

To purchase Even Little Kids Get Diabetes by Connie Pirner, go here.

Down Syndrome

Why Are You Looking At Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome by Lisa Tompkins

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A simple children’s book about a girl with Down Syndrome that teaches acceptance of others.

To purchase Why Are You Looking At Me? I Just Have Down Syndrome by Lisa Tompkins, go here.

Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters by Brian Skotko and Susan P. Levine

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A guide written for older children about their role as sibling to a person with Down Syndrome. Packed with lots of important information and provides a reference for older children with questions about their sibling.

To purchase Fasten Your Seatbelt: A Crash Course on Down Syndrome for Brothers and Sisters by Brian Skotko and Susan P. Levine, go here.

Emotional Disorders

The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene PhD

explosive
There are many emotional disorders and psychological issues but The Explosive Child covers one of the most difficult emotional problems: the angry, violent child. This book explores different strategies and approaches to dealing with, disciplining, and understanding a child that is prone to outbursts and unresponsive to limitations or traditional rule obedience.
To purchase The Explosive Child: A New Approach for Understanding and Parenting Easily Frustrated, Chronically Inflexible Children by Ross W. Greene PhD go here.

Sometimes I’m Bombaloo by Rachel Vail

bombaloo
A book written for young children about a girl that loses her temper. The book helps the reader understand that becoming angry and expressing that feeling is normal but calming down and behaving appropriately is part of the emotional journey.

To purchase Sometimes I’m A Bombaloo by Rachel Vail, go here.

Learning Disabilities

Thank You, Mr. Falkner by Patricia Polacco

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A book for school-age children about a girl that struggles to learn how to read. Recognizing her difficulty, a teacher works with her to overcome her dyslexia and learn how to read.

To purchase Thank You, Mr. Falkner by Patricia Polacco, go here.

Physical Disabilities

Harry and Willy and Carrothead by Judith Caseley

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Book for children about a boy born without a left hand that shows his classmates that his disability does not keep him from doing the same things they can do.

To purchase Harry and Willy and Carrothead by Judith Caseley, go here.

I’m the Big Sister Now by Michelle Emmert

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A girl cares for her older sister suffering from cerebral palsy in this touching children’s book.

To purchase I’m the Big Sister Now by Michelle Emmert, go here.

Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis

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A book written for young children about a girl enjoying all the activities every children loves only for the reader to discover at the end of the book that the little girl uses a wheelchair.
To purchase Susan Laughs by Jeanne Willis, go here.

Other Issues

Views From Our Shoes: Growing Up With A Brother or Sister With Special Needs by Donald Meyer

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A compilation of essays written by children who are the siblings of children with a variety of special needs. The essay writers range in age from 4 to 18 and offer a unique and personalized glimpse into the world of growing up a person with special needs.

To purchase Views from Our Shoes: Growing Up With A Brother or Sister With Special Needs by Donald Meyer, go here

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What Kind of International Special Education Jobs Are Available?

intljob Special education is one of the most rapidly growing careers in the United States, Canada and many other countries. (I had special education teachers myself when I was in high school; I am what you call I high-functioning autistic. It is amazing that such a person can write an article such as this one.) This article will deal specifically with international careers in the field of special education.

Teaching overseas

Handicapped children live in every nation in the world, so an individual who has a certificate in special education can find a job almost anywhere that he or she searches. According to the State Department, there are two main types of special education jobs open to the international teacher: that of the general teacher, and that of the tutor who works with children living in areas where the special education programs at the schools are not enough to suit their needs.

The Department of State has two teaching programs for those who would like to go into special education abroad. One is the FAST TRAIN (Foreign Affairs Spouses Teacher Training Project) program, which began as a collaboration among three different institutions: the Office of Overseas Schools (part of the State Department), the Virginia State Department of Education and George Mason University. Special education is one of two certificate programs offered by FAST TRAIN (the other being in international business). A training program for tutoring the learning disabled is also available each fall from the Lab School of Washington, a small private school for disabled students in all grades.

The FAST TRAIN program

At FAST TRAIN, the training program for becoming a special education teacher abroad is one that leads to an M.Ed. (Master of Education) degree. It consists, first, of five core courses with a total of twelve credit hours:

  1. Education and Culture: teaches how to analyze educational contexts and extend strategies to address “puzzlements” in the practices of students
  2. Inquiry into Practice: fosters “systematic and thoughtful inquiry” into the practices of the classroom
  3. How Students Learn: how to increase the ability of students to learn by studying a variety of learning systems and understand each student “in the context of the learning process itself”
  4. Designing and Assessing Teaching and Learning: developing strategies in the curriculum and teaching process in response to what the students both need and in what they are interested; also covers the ways of knowing brought by teachers into the classroom
  5. Educational Change: examines the various factors that influence changes in educational systems on all levels, from federal to classroom; helps students reflect on their own learning experiences

Then there are numerous specialization courses which total eighteen credit hours, divided among the following areas of concentration:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis: The titles of five of the seven courses in this area include the course name followed by a colon (Principles, Procedures and Philosophy; Empirical Bases; Assessments and Interventions; Applications; and Verbal Behavior).
  • Assistive Technology (There are two programs in this area, each including a slightly different set of courses.)
  • Teaching Students with Autism: Students with this condition typically have a limited ability to relate socially to other people but may possess special skills such as an ability to memorize various lists (I memorized all the states, capitals, U. S. presidents and chemical elements when I was eleven!).
  • Visual Impairments Licensure, PK-12
  • Students with Disabilities who Access the General Curriculum Concentration
  • Students with Disabilities who Access the Accepted Curriculum Concentration

Some of the courses are offered only during the spring, summer or fall.

Lab School of Washington

The lab operates under the belief that each student, despite his or her handicap, is capable of achieving great things and gears every aspect of its teaching process towards accomplishing that end. There is a global learning program here in which students discover discover the food, music and customs of other nations and study poets and other writers from around the world. A study program is also included, and students have gone to China, Ecuador, France and other places.

Written By Treasures

Do Private Special Education Programs Exist?

privpubMore often than not, special education programs are found in public schools that receive funding directly related to serving students with special needs and learning disabilities. Special education programs in private schools are fewer and further between. In part, this is because of the lack of designated funding, and in part, because most private educational institutions have smaller class sizes and are more readily able to cater to the special needs of any given student. There are, however, private school and private tutorial options at all levels for students with special needs.

According to the National Association of Private Special Education Centers (NAPSEC), there are 6.6 million students being served through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and 3.4% of those students are being served by a private schools of some sort. A group like the NAPSEC connects parents and students with private schools and organizations that serve special needs students from preschool to adulthood. Some of these learning centers are more traditional private schools, and some of them are organizations that offer tutorial services from private educators.

Private institutions like The Summit School in Edgewater, Maryland provide a range of educational services to special needs students with dyslexia and other learning differences. Summit educates students in grades one through eight and works to integrate students into traditional high schools. The tuition is $28,472 for the 2013-2014 academic year, which is comparable to many traditional private schools. Also, like most traditional private grade schools, financial aid is available in different forms.

An excellent resource for finding private preschool, elementary, middle, and high schools in any given state is the site Private School Review. This site allows you to narrow your school search to find private special education schools in your home state. An investigation of these institutions will show schools with small student populations – for example, their list of private special needs high schools in Missouri shows a range of student totals from 6 to 194 while elementary school student totals range from 11 to 194 – that allow teachers greater freedom to concentrate their attention on the individual needs of each student. Schools on this list focus on providing education to students with vastly differing special needs, from mild learning disabilities to severe mental handicaps. Many offer individualized learning programs geared towards specific needs students. In addition to fairly traditional classroom settings, many of these schools offer tutoring and other services from education professionals who are trained to help special needs students. The yearly tuition rates at most of these schools range from $10,000 to $30,000 and many have financial aid opportunities.

There are also plenty of options for special needs students preparing for college. Colleges designed exclusively to serve the needs of these students are far more rare than are private preschools, elementary, middle, and high schools. However, many colleges have programs that are designed to meed special educational needs, and some are better than others. The website Best Colleges Online ranks twenty colleges that excel at catering to students with special needs. The University of Iowa, which tops the list, has designated residence halls and community-based internships for students with intellectual, cognitive, and learning disabilities. At West Virginia Wesleyan College, students with learning disabilities, attention disorders, and other special needs can make use of the Mentor Advantage Program which offers a wide range of support to help with the college transition. Other colleges have special programs to assist students with autism, Down Syndrome, dyslexia, and physical impairments like blindness of hearing-impairment. The assistance often includes services that help with specialized study skills, job placement, and even self advocacy and social skills. These colleges and universities are all subject to ever increasing tuition costs, and some of these special services are fee-based.

There are many options for private schooling and tutoring from preschool through high school for students with special needs. When college is in view, the specialized options become more limited. However, many college programs work to ensure that their special needs students are equipped study, work, and social skills to help them succeed.

What are the Highest Paying Jobs in Special Education?

caerersjobsMany people are motivated to work with special needs students due to their sincere desire to help these individuals and to enrich the quality of their client’s lives. When considering a career, however, many believe that in addition to personal fulfillment, there are other factors to consider like salary. Earning a decent living is especially important in today’s tough economy. Many professionals working in the field of special education spend years getting college degrees, expend time and resources to complete educational and licensing requirements, and then continue studies within specialized certifications and advanced educational/training programs. Many find that ensuring their investments requires focusing on the top-paying careers within the special education field. To help with the process of selecting a high paying career path, here are some of the Highest Paying Jobs in Special Education. Any of these rewarding careers will ensure individuals get to do what they love while still being able to make ends meet, paying back student loans, and building a future.

Speech and Language Pathologist

Speech and language pathologists, also known as speech therapists, assess, diagnose and treat students with speech and communication disorders. Special education professionals interested in this field must earn a master’s degree in speech and language pathology. Schooling typically takes about six years to complete and includes classes in special needs, speech disorders and alternative ways to communicate. In most states, speech and language pathologists must obtain a license. In addition, they seek certification through accrediting bodies such as American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The median annual salary for speech and language pathologists was $66,920 as of May 2010, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This means that 50 percent of all speech and language pathologists made more than $66,920 in 2010 and 50 percent made less than this amount. The range in salaries for speech and language pathologists was $42,970 to $103,630.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Speech and Language Pathologists

  1. The Top 10 Master’s of Speech Pathology Degree Programs
  2. The Utah State University’s Online Bachelor of Communication Disorders
  3. Top 10 Bachelors of Communicative Disorders Degree Programs
  4. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  5. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  6. Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online

Educational Audiologist

After obtaining their bachelor’s degree in special education, some students decide to spend another four years in college, learning to work with hearing impaired students. Educational audiologists typically hold a doctorate in audiology. Typical coursework includes anatomy, physiology and communication development. As of 2013, all states required educational audiologists to earn a license. Typically, they also seek certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association or the American Board of Audiology to add to their credibility and fulfill part of their licensing requirements. Educational audiologists visit students at school and take referrals in their clinics to assess clients’ degree of hearing loss and help manage hearing disabilities in the classroom. Educational audiologists earned a median annual salary of $66,660 as of May 2010, according to the BLS. The range in salaries was between $42,590 and $102,210.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Educational Audiologists

  1. University of Western Kentucky’s Online Masters in Speech Language Pathology
  2. Top 15 Accredited Online Special Education Doctoral Degree Programs of 2016
  3. Top 15 Accredited Schools Online OFfering Doctoral Degrees In Special Education
  4. Top 10 Online Special Education Certificate Programs
  5. Top 10 Doctor of Audiology (AuD) Degrees

Special Education Teacher

Special education teachers work with children with a wide range of disabilities including autism, emotional disorder, behavioral disorder, learning disability or speech disorder. To become a special education teacher, you’ll need to earn your bachelor’s degree in education, special education or a specialized field, such as math or biology. During your schooling, you’ll complete fieldwork, including student teaching. Every state requires public special education teachers to have a license, which typically requires providing certified evidence you completed your degree and passing an examination. The median pay for special education teachers as of May 2010 was $53,220, according to the BLS. The lowest paid ten percent made an average salary of $35,580, while the highest 10 percent earned an average salary of $83,410. Salary greatly depends on the grade level an individual teaches. High school special education teachers, for example, earned a median income of $53,810 in 2010; middle school special education teachers earned $53,440; and preschool, elementary and kindergarten special education teachers earned an average yearly salary of $52,250.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Special Education Teachers

  1. Western Governor’s Online Bachelor’s of Arts in Special Education
  2. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  3. Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  4. Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online

Adaptive Special Education Teacher

Adaptive special education teachers enjoy helping people with disabilities overcome their challenges to achieve physical goals. These professionals develop, implement and monitor a special needs student’s physical education program. Approximately 13 states require adaptive special education teachers to have a separate license in addition to a teaching degree. While requirements vary by state, typically you have to demonstrate taking a certain number of semester hours in adaptive physical education and pass an examination. Once you are hired, adaptive special education teachers must follow the adapted physical education national standards. As of 2013, the average salary for adaptive special education teachers was $52,286, with a range of $30,867 to $57,442.

Featured Programs To Qualify As Adaptive Special Education Teachers

  • South Western College’s Online Masters of Special Education Program
  • Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Online Special Education Certificate Programs Online
  • Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  • Early Intervention Specialist

    If you’re interested in helping disabled children prevent problems throughout their lives, consider parlaying your special education career into a rewarding career as an early intervention specialist. These special education professionals work with children and young adults to diffuse crises, help problem-solve before a situation escalates and teach new skills. You’ll focus on problems including academic difficulties, teen pregnancy and behavioral issues.
    After achieving your certification as a special education teacher, earn your certificate in early intervention by taking a college course, which is typically about 15 – 20 semester hours. This training typically requires an internship. As of 2013, the median salary for early intervention specialists was $35,686. The range in salaries, according to the Indeed salary survey website, was $23,970 to $60,760.

    Featured Programs To Qualify As Early Intervention Specialists

  • Portland State University’s Master of Special Education in Early Intervention
  • Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs
  • Top 10 Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  • Top 15 Accredited Special Education Masters Degree Programs Online
  • What are Inclusive Special Education Programs?

    inclusion Inclusion is a term used to describe one option for the placement of special education students in public schools. These inclusive programs are sometimes referred to as mainstreaming, which is the selective placement of students with disabilities in regular education classrooms. This controversial educational concept has its share of advocates on both sides and continues to be a source of contention with educators and parents. They all agree that schools must focus on meeting the needs of students with special needs in the most appropriate setting for each individual.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is a federal law that requires students to be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). They must receive an education with supports set forth in their Individual Education Plan (IEP), which is different for each student. The federal laws that govern the education of special needs children do not require that they receive an inclusive education. They only require that all students with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment and that their unique needs are met.

    What Inclusive Education Programs Provide For Special Needs Students

    Inclusive education programs provide educational services for all students including those with special needs. These programs serve all children in the regular classroom on a full-time basis. If a student requires extra services such as speech therapy, these services are brought into the classroom. This program allows the student to remain in the regular education classroom setting at all times. This program is intended to meet the objectives of IDEA by educating students in the regular classroom while still providing for their unique needs.

    There are variables in inclusive education programs, which make a standard definition of inclusion misleading. Full inclusion is described as placing all students, regardless of disabilities and severity, in the regular classroom on a full-time basis. These students do not leave the regular classroom for services specified in their IEP, but these services are delivered to them in the regular classroom setting. Inclusion or mainstreaming refers to students being educated with non-disabled peers for most of their school day. A special education teacher collaborates with a general education teacher to provide services for students. The general education teacher is responsible for instructing all children, even those with an IEP. The special education teacher collaborates with the general teacher on strategies.

    Another placement option places disabled students in the general classroom with the special education teacher providing support and assisting the general education teacher in instructing the students. The special education teacher brings materials into the classroom and works with the special student during math or reading instruction. The special education teacher aids the general education teacher in planning different strategies for students with various abilities.

    When the IEP team meets to determine the best placement for a child with disabilities, they must consider which placement constitutes the least restrictive environment for the child based on individual needs. The team must determine which setting will provide the child with the appropriate placement. The primary objective of inclusive education is to educate disabled students in the regular classroom and still meet their individual needs. Inclusive education allows children with special needs to receive a free and appropriate education along with non-disabled students in the regular classroom.

    Effectiveness of Inclusive Special Education Programs

    Even though several studies have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of inclusive special education programs, no conclusion has been reached. Many positive signs have been observed with both special education and regular students. Some proponents of inclusive education programs argue that segregated special education programs are more detrimental to students and fail to meet their educational goals.

    Those who favor inclusion see some positive evidence that all students can benefit from these inclusive programs when the proper support services are enacted and some changes take place in the traditional classroom. Professional development classes for both special and general education teachers produce a better understanding of the concept of inclusive education. When provided with the proper tools, special needs students have the opportunity to succeed along with their non-disabled peers.

    What is Special Education Certification?

    whatisSpecial education certification is a requirement for teachers working with disabled children. The certification qualifications required for each state vary, and different types of degrees are available. Specifics regarding each state’s legislation on education topics can be found here.

    Since the No Child Left Behind act of 2001, U.S. states have had to redefine their special education teaching certification systems. In order to be involved in the teaching of special education, a teacher must acquire certification(s) depending on which state is involved. Different levels of education will result in different possible teaching degrees and specialized areas of certification can be utilized depending on the state in which it will be used.

    Types of Certification

    There are three classifications of certification systems generally recognized, and each state’s system can be categorized accordingly. They are:
    Generalist
    States with this classification do not require specialized certification in order for their teachers to work with children that have specially categorized disabilities, but many states that fall into this classification have endorsed programs where additional certification can be utilized. These include, but are not limited to, certificates for early childhood education, blind/visually impaired education and deaf/hard of hearing education.

    Mild/Moderate-Severe/Profound
    This classification applies to states that make a distinction between educators with general certification and those with certifications specialized to help children who are severely disabled.

    Categorical
    States that require specialized certification for all of their special education teachers fall into this classification, though each state determines which certifications are recognized.

    One very helpful resource produced by the Education Commission of the States breaks this information down many different ways. It shows each state’s classification, including which specialized certificates are recognized, as well as other pertinent information for anyone interested in teaching special education in the U.S.

    The special certifications that states recognize include the following:

  • General Special Education Certification
  • Mild / Moderate
  • Severe / Profound
  • Early Childhood
  • Blind / Visually Impaired
  • Deaf / Hard of Hearing
  • Speech / Language or Communication (not pathologist)
  • Orthopedic / Physical Disabilities
  • Specific Learning Disabilities
  • Mental Retardation
  • Cognitive (Mental) Disability
  • Emotional Disabilities
  • Behavior Disorders
  • Autism
  • Adaptive Physical Education
  • Special Education Degrees

    Depending on the type of educator one would like to be, there are a number of degrees attainable in the field of special education. Each state has different teaching requirements and each school offers differing courses which help special education students realize their long term goals.

    A teaching preparation program is required in addition to a Bachelor’s degree in order for someone to begin teaching prechool, elementary and secondary school students. Often an additional year of specialized studies will be needed depending on the specific state’s regulations.

    A master’s degree is usually geared toward specialized certifications for teachers interested in specific areas of the field. Depending on the state in which certification is needed and the particular specialty chosen, either a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Education (MED) degree would be attained.

    Comparable to a second master’s degree is an Educational Specialist Degree (EDS). This type of degree greatly benefits those intending to become psychologists, school counselors, and reasearch and development specialists.

    For those interested in teaching future special education instructors, doctorate degrees such as a PhD or EdD are available. Holders of these degrees often become leaders in the fields of teacher education and research.

    With many degree choices and specialties available for study, working with individuals with special needs can be very fulfilling for teachers in this field.

    U.S. Department of Education
    Commission on Teacher Credentialing

    What Training, Certification, and Licensure Do You Need To Qualify as a Special Education Teacher?

    specialedteachCurrently, there are not enough licensed special education teachers to fill all open positions. Technical advances that have made it possible to better diagnose and treat learning disabilities have created a large pool of special education students, but there are not enough qualified educators to teach them. For someone with the desire to make a difference in the life of a child whose disability makes learning a challenge, a career in special education offers many rewards.

    Training

    A career as a special education teacher requires a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree. There are programs that offer training specifically in special education, but there are also programs that offer education degrees and an additional year of training in special education.

    Special education is a broad teaching area that encompasses many different areas based on the disabilities of the students. Special education teachers work with students who have learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, physical handicaps, behavioral challenges, and a combination of severe mental and physical handicaps as well as autism spectrum learners. Most state licensing boards will expect those looking to pursue a career in special education to choose an area of specialization, and their training will usually be geared toward that specialization.

    Those who already possess a Bachelor’s degree in an area other than education have the additional option of earning a Master’s degree in special education while accepting a temporary teaching position with special education students. All special education training, whether at the Bachelor’s or the Master’s level, will involve some form of in-classroom training. Temporary credentials can be granted to those with Bachelor’s degrees in other areas who are taking special education classes.

    For those who are still in high school, local Regional Occupational Programs (ROPs) may offer teacher’s aide classes that provide the opportunity to actually be in the classroom or other courses that would expose the student to a variety of children with different abilities. Another way to gain valuable experience before beginning formal training would be to volunteer either in a special education class or with an organization that provides services to special education students.

    Certification and Licensing

    All prospective teachers must take and pass the Praxis teaching exam, and special education teachers must take the Praxis II specifically for special education. The score needed to pass the exam varies by state, so it is important for test-takers to know what the passing score is for the state in which they intend to teach. The Praxis II may be taken as many times as needed to pass, and once passed, the new teacher may apply for licensure in that state.

    Applying for a Job In Special Education

    Licensed educators looking to work in special education will find the field wide open. Due to the high turnover rate and the decline in students entering this field, jobs in special education are readily available. Furthermore, the number of jobs in this area are expected to grow. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the number of special education jobs is expected to increase by 20% from 2008 to 2018.

    Salaries for special education positions are also attractive and expected to increase. While they vary by geographic location and education level, the middle 50% of elementary school special education teachers will earn anywhere from $40,000.00 to $63,000.00 annually. The majority of special education teachers work in elementary schools, but there are positions available at the junior high school and high school levels.

    Whatever the age level, degree of ability or part of the country where teaching is desired, a career in special education offers the chance to provide an essential resource to those who need it most.

    What are the Challenges of Being a Special Education Teacher?

    challengesSpecial education teachers have a higher rate of burnout than is found in most other professions. The burnout rate is the result of a number of issues that often culminate in these teachers leaving their jobs. It is estimated that 75 percent of those who teach special needs students will leave their job within 10 years of starting. The result of this turnover rate is a shortage of special education teachers and a lack of quality programs for the students they serve. While a special education teacher may start their career with the intention of helping disabled students become productive members of society, they face several challenges that make the task extremely difficult. The challenges of the special education teacher include:

    1. The Widespread Misperception That Teaching is Easy

    Teaching is a uniquely difficult job, one that comes with a set of huge responsibilities; however, many people fail to recognize the teacher’s role. The various disabilities of the students with whom special education teachers work multiplies the job’s difficulty. Special education teachers are largely unrecognized and unsupported by the public.

    2. Non-Instructional Responsibilities

    Many teachers are trained and willing to teach but find themselves burdened with responsibilities that remove them from the classroom. Special education teachers often find themselves being required to go to meetings, conducting assessments and dealing with loads of paperwork.

    3. Lack of Support

    At a time when many large school districts are experiencing high levels of growth, special education teachers are being asked to do more with less. Salaries are being cut in many districts, and there is often very little in the way of technical assistance provided by school administrations.

    4. Dealing With Multiple Disabilities

    A special education teacher’s classes may have students with various disabilities. Since each student is a unique case, the teacher must modify their lessons to suit each disabled learner by providing individualized education programs.

    5. Handling Death

    Among students in a special education classroom, there are often some with severe chronic illnesses that may result in death. Handling this is a challenge to which special education teachers will have to adapt.

    6. Handling the Problems of an Inclusive Classroom

    The concept of having classrooms that contain both special needs students and students who are developing typically is becoming a popular one. This type of education poses new challenges for a special education teacher. For example, many students who have no disabilities are unaccustomed to dealing with those who do. Teachers in these classes are charged with eliminating cruelty and insensitivity from among their students and ensuring that those with special needs are treated with respect.

    7. Professional Isolation

    The nature of a special education teacher’s work is very different from that of traditional teachers; the result of this is that standard classroom teachers may not view them as colleagues. There may be a professional stigma attached to the work of teaching “slow” students. Special education teachers often work with smaller groups and may focus on skills rather than content, thereby leading to the perception that their work is easier or less important.

    8. Lack of Support From Parents

    Some parents of special needs children are disinterested in the welfare of their children and fail to provide them with adequate care. Alternatively, they may be overly protective. Both can be problematic for the child and for their teacher. Disinterested parents may have no involvement with their child’s education or interaction with their teachers, whereas overprotective parents may have unrealistic expectations from the child and the child’s teachers. Both attitudes can shape children in negative ways. Parental disinterest may make special needs students less motivated and parents who are overprotective often diminish their child’s confidence and make it harder for them to learn.

    9. The Difficulty of Discipline in a Special Needs Classroom

    Disabled children may have behavioral issues including restlessness and moodiness. They may also exhibit problems like a short attention span or an inability to understand what is being taught. Special education teachers have to learn how to deal with these problems as well as how to take appropriate disciplinary measures.

    10. Budget Problems

    Across the nation, special education programs are facing increasing enrollment and decreasing budgets. The result is that there are fewer teacher assistants available, which results in a greater workload for special education teachers. They may also face shortages of essential resources and equipment for delivering effective lessons.

    Any one of these challenges would make the work of a special education teacher incredibly difficult; as a group, they turn the job into a set of arduous tasks. Unfortunately, the result of the pressures placed on teachers is that the students suffer. Anyone seeking to go into this area of teaching should be aware of what they will face and have the mental and emotional fortitude to overcome the challenges in order to improve the prospects of their students.

    What Personality Traits Do Special Education Teachers Have?

    personality spec edWhile children in general need plenty of love and attention from their parents and teachers, children with special needs are most benefited by people whose personality traits enhance the learning process. Both passion and concern for children with special needs are necessary to be a good special education teacher. In addition, a few commendable personality traits of special education teachers have been listed below. If you are considering teaching special needs kids prepare yourself for a challenging, life-changing yet rewarding career.

    1. Love and Acceptance

    In order to relate to any child, you must be able to love and accept them as they are. This is especially important for special needs children. Regardless of their capabilities or behavior each child is unique and worthy of your notice. Some special needs kids may demand excessive attention or completely disregard common etiquette, but it is important to respect and treat them as unique individuals with unique needs. By attempting to understand and encourage your students learning will be enhanced on all levels.

    2. Organizational skills and Intuition

    As is the case in any kind of education, students need structure to succeed. But with special needs students, structure is all the more important. The special education teacher must provide the class with a physical and academic structure favorable to learning. Whether the child is dyslexic, physically or mentally handicapped or has some auditory learning disabilities or other injuries, students may be incapable of expressing their feelings or communicating their needs. The special education teacher will need to be intuitive and involved so that any students’ needs can be foreseen and addressed even when students lack the ability to tell you about them themselves.

    3. Creativity and Enthusiasm

    The ability to think out of the box and combine both creativity and enthusiasm are signs of the makings of a fine special education teacher. The ability to put difficult concepts in plain and interesting words or display a complexity in simple form is often the most effective trait a special education teacher can possess. The teacher’s creativity and enthusiasm will inspire the students to be creative and enthusiastic as well. By bringing creativity into the classroom the classroom environment will change from monotonous to inspiring.

    4. Confidence and Calm

    Many special needs students suffer intellectual disabilities and emotional disturbances and when special education teachers are not calm, kind, confident and helpful, even in difficult situations, students can lose their tempers and become violent. It is important that the teacher keeps his/her wits and deals calmly with the situation. Teachers must be self-assured and take the lead at all times. The confidence displayed by the teacher will eventually calm the antagonized student and peace will be restored in the classroom.

    5. Humorous and Easygoing

    Special education teachers with a fine sense of humor and easygoing manner will more easily be able to cope with the stress of teaching special needs kids. Regardless of their disabilities, students can sense when teachers enjoy spending time with them and sharing laughter and fun. This is especially so as teaching special education can sometimes be frustrating especially for teachers who are overly sensitive to thoughtless negative comments. Developing ones sense of humor will protect you from becoming overly hurt due to personal quips.

    6. Dedication and Optimism

    Sometimes even the simplest task can become long and difficult for a student to master. It is at times like this that teachers must offer hope and encouragement by celebrating any and all victories no matter how big or small the accomplishment. It is important to remember how frustrating it would be for you to have to try so hard to master subjects, techniques or actions. This will enable the teacher to see things from the student’s point of view and remain optimistic and dedicated to the cause. The teacher’s dedication to the students serves as a huge confidence builder for them. A teacher’s dedication bridge the gap in meeting the needs of these unique students.

    While there is no definite must have list of personality traits for special education teachers, the above traits point in the right direction. To build a rapport with ones students, trust is essential. And trust can only be cultivated by developing the personality traits discussed above. Someone once said every child is gifted; they only open their packages at different times. This is the perspective in which teachers must look at each exceptional student.

    How Do You Become a Special Education Teacher?

    specialkidsHelping others is a goal many people have in their search for fulfilling employment. Special education is a field in which the art and science of teaching combine to help students with special needs experience academic success. Although requirements for becoming a special education teacher vary from state to state, all states require the minimum of a bachelor’s degree and state licensure to obtain a position in a public school. Regulations aren’t as strict for private schools, though most also prefer to hire candidates who hold a degree.

    Although the job outlook for special education teachers is favorable, there are several steps that can be taken as early as high school to increase employability following college graduation. Special education teachers are often expected to provide instruction to their students in all common core subjects . In order to demonstrate knowledge and proficiency, high school students should focus on a well-rounded, liberal arts curriculum giving them solid knowledge of English, science, math and social studies content. AP courses not only give evidence of a higher level of academic achievement, but can allow students the opportunity to accumulate college credits while still in high school resulting in savings of time and money in acquiring a college degree.

    Employment history and volunteerism are factors that can lead to more rapid employment in special education. There are many character traits that make one a good teacher, but most important among them are patience and a love for children. Those considering a career as a special education teacher are wise to seek employment and volunteering opportunities that prove their possession of these attributes. Possible part-time jobs include baby-sitting and tutoring younger children. Many current teachers once worked in after-school programs or as summer camp counselors. Volunteering with programs such as Special Olympics demonstrates a commitment to helping those with disabilities.

    Once in college, part-time employment in the field of education can be a boost for a prospective teacher’s resume. Most school districts are in desperate need of paraprofessionals who are willing to work with students with disabilities. Beginning as a substitute is an excellent way to become familiar with the instructional setting and affords exposure to a variety of philosophies and programs. Experience assisting with students with a variety of different disabilities is another advantage of being in a different classroom each day. Despite the fact that most districts prefer or require substitute teachers to hold a bachelor’s degree and certification, in areas of high need, some schools will allow students enrolled in teacher education programs to serve in that capacity. The possibility also exists of obtaining employment in private schools that are less regulated by the state and federal governments.

    In obtaining full-time employment as a special education teacher, candidates must show proof of a degree from an accredited college and state or national certification. Although regulations have, in the past, varied by state, it is now required to possess the minimum of a bachelor’s degree to gain employment as a teacher in a public school. The norm for most states is possession of a Bachelor of Science in Education and state certification which is granted after passing state licensure exams. Some states also require that the teacher acquire a Master’s degree in a related field within a given time period following the beginning of full-time employment. There is a preference of various schools to only hire those who already have completed their graduate level studies as they will not have the distraction of their own studies competing with their teaching day jobs.

    While searching for an accredited teacher education program, it is wise to shop around. Many colleges will award credit for past career or life experience. A good program should also contain a field experience component and student teaching assignments encompassing a couple of different schools and grade levels. The more hands-on experience and exposure to a variety of different settings and student needs the better.

    Following graduation there are a variety of ways to find a position that is a good fit for the teacher and school. Many colleges and universities have career placement advisors that work with alumni to quickly secure full-time positions in their chosen fields. Job fairs in which employers from all over the country hope to recruit new talent are an optimal way to learn about the demographics, philosophies and programs of school districts throughout the nation. Employers often review resumes and conduct interviews on-site giving recent graduates excellent interviewing practice and experience. Many such interviews even result in job offers.

    Searching widely before applying for positions is advisable as working conditions and salaries vary greatly from state to state. According to the National Education Association, median pay for public school teachers ranges from $38,804 in South Dakota at the low end to $73,398 in New York at the high end. Starting pay for new teachers can be as low as $26,734 in Montana to as high as $51,539 in the District of Columbia. Other factors to consider in choosing a position are class sizes and responsibilities outside of the classroom or regularly scheduled work day, such as Open House and parent conferences.

    Becoming a teacher requires content area expertise, experience and years of education. Choosing appropriate coursework, related employment, and volunteer experiences can begin as early as high school. The road to a special education teaching position may be long, but the lifetime of touching the lives of students and investing in their futures is well worth the work.

    What is Special Education?

    specialedSpecial education, in its simplest terms, centers on the education of children or adults who have special learning needs. Teaching occurs in a manner that touches upon these physiological, cognitive and/or behavioral differences and how they vary person-to-person. Traditionally, these special considerations in education are regimented through established policies and procedures. Teachers and other special education professionals have undergone training programs which prepare them in presenting a uniquely-designed curriculum; a curriculum they are charged with helping their students master. Special Education teachers and professionals make good use of tools such as preordained individual and group lesson plans, modified equipment and materials, user-friendly accessories and equipment, and other helpful inventions that are meant to prepare special education students for a productive and active life at work and in society.

    Special education students, as alluded to previously, have special needs. What does that mean? It means they cannot, for one reason or another, interpret or understand the scholastic material presented in standardized classrooms. Some of these special needs include, but are not limited to:

    • Learning challenges
    • Deficiencies in communication
    • Behavioral or emotional issues and
    • Disabilities of a physical nature or developmental challenges

    Often, with students falling into one or more of these categories, supplemental educational tools and resources are needed to round out their educational experience, such as:

    • Outside-of-the-box teaching methods
    • Technology and media
    • Tailored learning environments
    • Task-specific rooms or areas

    There are those students who excel academically, and often the world of academia chooses to label such prodigies as gifted, “exceptional,” or “special.” In this context we are speaking of a student who shows ability to not only grasp theoretical concepts, but they do it so well that they are typically earmarked for honors classes and other advanced educational opportunities. Special needs students of a different order are the topic of this narrative, and these students are those suffering from a slightly to greatly reduced capacity in their ability to learn on their own or in a classroom setting. These two forms of “special” could not be more different, and the distinctions are usually clear and concise.

    In practically all of the civilized countries of the world there is an increasing trend of eliminating the barriers associated with special needs students. In traditional classrooms, educating goes on as it always has. In addition, the curriculum and class sizes tend to be inflated in order to accommodate the burgeoning number of children entering the school system. While the school “systems” of the world are busy addressing the needs of their student body, special education “systems” are often treated as a separate entity; completely cordoned off from the typical teacher/student experience. This segregation perpetuates any existing negative associations with special needs students, and places them squarely on the periphery of academia. What many education professionals and researchers have suggested, especially those in special education itself, is that they would like to see an integration of some kind begin to take place – a trend which has increased over the past decade. The goal of such integrated and inclusive classrooms is to lessen the barriers between special needs children and their peers thereby rendering special education as a normal extension of the educational experience, rather than an highly separate learning experience.

    It is usually not a difficult prospect to identify those children, adolescents or adults who may stand to benefit from a Special Education program and curriculum. A person would, generally speaking, be labeled as having special needs were they to suffer from such maladies or conditions like:

    • Mental retardation
    • Brain damage
    • Developmental disorders
    • Physical, visual speech or hearing disabilities and impairments

    But there are indeed students who fall between the cracks. These students are operating at a level which might be described as “getting by.” There are many reasons this breed of special needs child is not easily identified, and it begins with the teacher and the school system. In the final analysis, quizzes and tests show a child’s progress to a large degree. If a teacher is inattentive or unable to make the necessary connections, borderline students can find themselves mired and frustrated in educational concepts that they are cognitively, developmentally or emotionally unable to comprehend; at the very least, unable to grasp said concepts at the same level as other students.

    This is where alternative approaches to pinpointing special needs children come into play. What many special needs programs do, working in tandem with traditional school districts and schools, is locate special needs children in the first or second year. A great amount of emphasis is placed on teachers reporting egregious lapses in educational progress to their superiors. As an aside, it has been pointed out by many educators that not only does a child’s cognitive ability in deciphering newly-acquired information need to be accounted for when determining if they have a learning disability, but extracurricular considerations such as sports, recess, band, and other school-approved activities need to weighed in on as well. The total package, not just the most noticeable attributes, needs to be considered in the assessment process.