Special Ed: How Do You Teach a Superhero

Reviewed by Mary McLaughlin


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Special Education: How Do You Teach a Superhero?

Special education comes into play when a student’s education is sufficiently altered from that of a neuro-typical student. From gifted to other health impaired, most superheroes were nothing if not extraordinary.

Lets see how special education could help some of the greatest exceptional learners–superheroes!

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Types of students:
Autism, hearing impairment, deaf/blindness, developmental delay, emotionally disturbed, intellectual disability, orthopedic impairment, other health impairment, learning disability, speech or language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, gifted

Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) Goals [9]
Specific: academic, behavioral, or functional goals
(need to be)

Spiderman — Gifted Program[3]

[13]Gifted and Talented means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high achievement capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who need services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop those capabilities.

Pros: Gifted at science
Cons: Painfully shy

Bitten on the hand by a radioactive spider, Peter Parker became empowered with arachnid strength and agility.

Individualized Educational Plan (IEP):
Kinesthetic learning + [2][11]
Visual Learning +
Science material =
Scientific Experiments

Ability to create artificial web shooters for wrists.

Batman — Emotionally Disturbed[5]

[13]Emotional Disturbance, one of the following: (batman is 2 and 3)
1.) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors.
2.) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers.
3.) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances
4.) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression
5.) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.

Seeing his parents shot by a mugger on the way back from the movies, young Bruce Wayne vows to avenge their murders.

Pros: Physically and mentally gifted, very determined.
Cons: Driven by his fears/trauma. [4]

Individualized Educational Plan (IEP):[6]
Utilize strengths:
Criminology, forensics, criminal psychology, fighting.
Support Inclusion:
Batman walled himself off from a young age.
Clear behavioral rules:
Push lessons on the moral ambiguity of being a vigilante.

A more balanced way to fight crime.

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Wolverine — Occupational Therapy/Emotionally Disturbed

When the groundskeeper of his father’s estate killed his father, James Howlett mutated with claws coming from the backs of his hands for the first time.

Pros: Able to respond to physical violence.
Cons: Traumatized by the murder of his father and suicide of his mother.

Individualized Educational Plan (IEP): [7]
Learn to control mutation.
Present replacement behaviors.
Support inclusion.
Keep the classroom a predictable, calming location.

Perhaps Wolverine could transition to a normal life, instead of running with the wolves as an outcast.

Hulk — Occupational Therapy[8]

A brilliant nuclear physicist who was struck with gamma rays from a bomb he was saving a bystander from.

Pros: Extreme strength.
Cons: Easily enraged, a menace to society.

Individualized Educational Plan (IEp):
Identify situations in which rage occurs.
Find substitute behaviors.

Outcome: Ability to exist in society.

Cyborg — Emotionally Disturbed[12]

While experimenting on their son to increase his intelligence, Cyborg’s parents unleashed a large gelatin monster into the world. To protect him, they replaced bodies with mechanical and metal limbs.

Pros: Extreme strength and durability
Cons: Traumatized at a young age.

Individualized Educational Plan (IED):
Teach the whole class about prosthetic limbs.
Create a reassuring space within the classroom.

Outcome: Cyborg has the physical tools, but proper education could help his emotional troubles.

Echo — Deafness

[13]Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Raised by her adoptive father, the villain the Kingpin, Echo adapts by learning fighting skills, but doesn’t learn some adaptive skills.

Pros: Super fast reflexes, can mimic people instantly.
Cons: Cannot communicate in combat.

Individualized Educational Plan(IED):
Utilize kinesthetic learning.
Teach adaptive skills.

Outcome: Enhanced ability to communicate.

Doctor Mid-Nite — Blindness

Visual impairments including blindness means an impairment in vision that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance. [13]

A one time surgeon who, when operating on a witness for a mob trial had a grenade tossed in the room. After being blinded for a time, realizes he has inverted-blindness, and can see at night.

Pros: Can see in pitch black.
Cons: Blind throughout the day.

Individualized Educational Plan(IEP):
Utilize ways in which Doctor Mid-Nite can learn:
Kinesthetic/auditory learning in the day.
Visual learning for homework.

Outcome: Utilize Doctor Mid-Nite’s unique strengths to make him a better learner.

Many exceptional learners truly are exceptional, you just have to figure out how to reach them.



  1. http://www.themost10.com/famous-comic-book-superheroes/
  2. http://www.learningrx.com/types-of-learning-styles-faq.htm
  3. http://www.superherostuff.com/biographies/batman_biography.html
  4. https://www.aota.org/en/About-Occupational-Therapy/Professionals/CY/Articles/School-consumer.aspx
  5. https://www.marvel.com/characters/hulk-bruce-banner
  6. http://behaviorpsych.blogspot.com/p/goal-bank.html
  7. http://www.superherostuff.com/biographies/ironmanbiography.html
  8. http://www.learningrx.com/types-of-learning-styles-faq.html
  9. http://www.ranker.com/list/the-10-greatest-disabled-superheroes-of-all-time/saintmort?format=SLIDESHOW&page=6
  10. https://www.cec.sped.org/Special-Ed-Topics/Who-Are-Exceptional-Learners