About Special Education

Being a special education teacher is an opportunity to have a positive, lasting impact on the lives of children and youth with special needs.  Special Education is specially designed instruction, that often incorporates related services, to meet the educational, social, emotional, and vocational needs of students with disabilities.

Students with disabilities who receive special education instruction and related services vary greatly in their needs. Like all children, they differ from one another in ability, age, learning style, and personality. Students with disabilities come from all cultural backgrounds and may even speak languages other than English. They all have unique learning needs based on their disabilities that require a number of special education and related services, such as specially designed instruction, adapted materials, speech-language therapy, and adaptive physical education.

Some students with disabilities have cognitive impairments, such as mental retardation, which can range from mild to profound. Others have specific learning disabilities that require specific teaching strategies, including accommodations and modifications to the general education curriculum. Still other students have physical disabilities that require the use of wheelchairs or other Assistive devices. Some students' impairments are sensory, such as hearing loss and vision impairments. Others have emotional conditions. In Addition, Chronic health problems and multiple disabilities can complicate learning for some.

Special education teachers provide specially designed instruction to individuals with disabilities. They adapt and develop materials to match the special needs of each student. They work to ensure that students with disabilities reach their learning potential. There are specialty areas within special education.

As students with disabilities are more routinely included in general education classrooms and in their neighborhood schools, special education teachers often work in teams with general education teachers. Special education teachers also provide consulting services to general education teachers.

Special education teachers work in many settings. Settings in public schools include general education classrooms, resource rooms, and self-contained classrooms. Other public or private school settings include hospitals, medical centers, private practice environments, correctional facilities, and the child's own home.