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1: Introduction and Foundations of Special Education

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    This book is about exceptional students and will discuss the role of teachers and clinicians who work together to support exceptional students in various clinical settings, including public schools in the United States.

    Exceptional students are children and adolescents whose educational needs are not met by traditional educational programs and include students who are at risk for delayed development and those with specific disabilities. Exceptional students also include those who are capable of performing at higher levels than others of the same age. These students are referred to as gifted and talented and may also experience the need for additional support. Gifted and talented students may also have specific disabilities. These students are referred to as twice exceptional.

    The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a child with a disability as having an intellectual disability, a hearing impairment (including deafness), a speech or language impairment, a visual impairment (including blindness), a serious emotional disturbance, an orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, any other health impairment, a specific learning disability, deaf–blindness, or multiple disabilities, and who needs special education and related services. We will discuss each of these disability categories in future chapters.

    In addition, throughout this book we will discuss the different federal and state laws governing the education of exceptional students. It is important for educators and clinicians who work with exceptional students to understand how federal and state laws are made and how these laws influence their work.

    • 1.1: How Federal Laws Are Made
      Congress is the legislative branch of the federal government in the United States and makes laws for the nation. Congress has two legislative bodies or chambers: the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives.
    • 1.2: Special Education and Related Services
      Special education is instruction specifically designed to meet the individual needs of exceptional students. IDEA defines special education as instruction and related services specifically designed, at no cost to parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability, including instruction conducted in the classroom, the home, hospitals, institutions, and other settings and includes instruction in physical education.
    • 1.3: The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
      In 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act (EHA), which guaranteed a free and appropriate public education for children with disabilities in the United States. In 1990, the law was reauthorized and renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
    • 1.4: The Pre-Referral Process
      Students are identified for special education and related services through a system of referrals beginning with the pre-referral process. Many schools have established school-based student assistance teams (SATs) to facilitate the assessment and identification of exceptional students. The SAT is a team of educators, specialists, and clinicians who monitor the progress of students that may require special education and related services.
    • 1.5: The Referral Process
      If the tiered interventions do not result in improvement, a formal referral is made for evaluation to determine eligibility for special education and related services. At this point, parents must be notified and give their consent for the evaluation. IDEA specifies that a child must be evaluated within 60 days of receiving parental consent or within any period established by the state.
    • 1.6: Multi-Tiered System of Support
      Another proactive instructional model or framework for preventing both academic and non-academic issues is called a Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS).
    • 1.7: Early Childhood Intervention Services
      Early intervention services incorporate education, health care, and social services and are provided to infants and toddlers (under age 3) who have a disability or are exhibiting developmental delays, as well as their families. Children who are considered at risk for developmental delays also receive early intervention services.
    • 1.8: The Individualized Education Program
      The multidisciplinary team (MDT) is required to develop an IEP for each student receiving special education and related services. The purpose of an IEP is to provide an appropriate education that meets the specialized needs of each student.
    • 1.9: Transition from School to Post-School Activities
      The IDEA requires transition planning and transition services for students 16 to 22 years of age. In Illinois, transition planning must begin at age 14 ½. Transition services facilitate the transition from school to post-school activities including postsecondary education, vocational education, employment, continuing and adult education, and independent living.
    • 1.10: Chapter Questions and References

    This page titled 1: Introduction and Foundations of Special Education is shared under a CC BY 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Diana Zaleski (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI)) .

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