Special Education In The Modern World
By: Suzie Dalien, M.Ed.
When you educate a child properly, you’re paving the way for future generations to make the world a better place. Education is the cornerstone that makes learning come together, but not everyone learns at the same pace. In an ideal world, all children would go through school learning concepts on task with their age, and there wouldn’t be any issues whatsoever. Everyone would celebrate each other’s imperfections with courtesy and teaching would be a breeze for educators everywhere.
We don’t live in a perfect world, though, or even one where people with disabilities are recognized for their unique talents and needs. Currently, there is a severe stigma when it comes to those with learning disabilities, and it’s a hard one to shake. There are a number of slurs that go along with it, perpetuated by those who are deemed “normal,” which doesn’t help the inherent self-esteem issues that come from being educated in a general learning institution.
According to James H. Wendorf, executive director of the National Center for Learning Disabilities, “stigma, underachievement and learning disabilities (LD) continue to be stubborn barriers for parents and children to overcome…left unaddressed, as many as 60 million individuals risk being left behind, burdened by low self-esteem, subjected to low expectations and diminished in their ability to pursue their dreams.” This is a frightening statistic and one that could leave our educational infrastructure in shambles if not taken care of immediately.
Learning Disabilities and the Public
The history of special education in the United States is relatively short. America developed the Individuals with Disabilities Act in 1975 to help those with learning disabilities get the special education services they need. Programs such as Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) were instituted in the public school systems, and as more children were diagnosed with an educational need the programs were forced to expand. More teachers meant more funding, more funding meant more students would be able to take part in the classes and the once-strong educational system found its first set of issues.
Because children that need special education services were often separated from the general school populace, the notion that these children are of lower intelligence started to take hold. To ensure those with learning disabilities got the help they needed, separate classes were necessary but made the kids appear too different to learn with the rest of the school. Words like “special” took on a negative connotation and got the ball rolling on a lifetime of bullies hopping on the teasing bandwagon without a second thought.
Children aren’t the only ones that make fun of those who require special education; adults can be just as insensitive to the feelings of others they perceive to be different, even if the person in question is a child. Take a look at this information regarding the public’s perception of children with learning disabilities:
- 1 in 3 parents report feeling depressed and isolated, stressed and anxious when it comes to dealing with their child’s learning disability. Without the proper community of support, it can feel like you’re the only one in the world that has that certain bridge to cross.
- Almost one-third of people, when asked, attribute learning disabilities to external factors like too much television, poor diet and even vaccinations. The reality is that learning disabilities are almost always inherently present in the child from the start, a strange fault in genetic makeup.
- An astounding 70% of people try to group learning disabilities in the same category as autism spectrum disorders (ASD). While it’s true that children who are diagnosed with some form of autism indeed require special education services, it doesn’t mean all of those with LD are autistic; the two are not mutually exclusive.
With so many misconceptions floating around and sometimes being hurled at those with learning disabilities, it is no wonder there’s a high rate of self-esteem issues and depression among this group. Special Education Resource is steadily working to remove the terrible stigma that children who require special education are of lower intelligence than those who don’t.
Online Learning for Learning Disabilities
Some children have social issues that prevent them from learning in a standard classroom, whether it’s anxiety, depression or another type of disability. Others might find that constantly being surrounded by a group of peers is too distracting, and prefer an environment in which they can learn with more one-on-one attention such as a self-contained classroom. No matter the case, it’s time to think outside the box when it comes to special education services and find a unique approach that caters to the individual rather than the school board.
Special programs have been developed to help children obtain an education from the comfort of their own home or within a special class in a typical school setting. Online learning has opened up a whole new world of possibilities for those who don’t fit the classic student mold, and has eased the minds of both parents and educators alike. Gaining access to these programs might present some barriers that need to be overcome, but there are resources to help your child get the best education possible.
Supplemental learning through special education tutoring can help your child with special needs develop an individualized approach to learning that fits their style without compromising on what makes them unique. Instead of focusing on the problem, this type of learning is all about finding a way to work with an existing disability. The days of struggling to cope with a one-size-fits-all special education system are gone; in its place is a way of learning that’s unlike anything the world has seen before.
The most important thing to keep in mind as you explore your options concerning your child’s special needs is that you’re not alone. Parents all across the country are in a similar situation and wanting to reach out for help as they navigate the turbulent waters of special education services. No matter what state you live in, your financial situation or support system, there will always be resources to help you get exactly what you need. Let us show you a better way of learning.
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