The Future of Special Educational Needs

The past year has brought numerous issues to light when it comes to child care and education.

Parents all over the country have been left to their own devices in ensuring the schooling of their children. Yes, teachers picked up the slack and came up with creative solutions, including Zoom school and alternative teaching methods. But, it also became clear that there is still much room for improvement.

Educational systems are invaluable. They help prepare our children for a future in a fast-changing world, equipping them with a set of skills that are going to be essential in their lives. But what’s becoming more and more evident is that the current focus on academia doesn’t cover all the necessary bases.

The discrepancies between what is being done and what needs to be done are particularly evident in special education. 

The good news, however, is, there’s potential for change. And parents hold a lot more power than they may think they do…

Reimagining Education as a Whole

When I think about the modern educational system, my initial reaction is to think of a cartoon often accompanied by a quote credited to Albert Einstein.

“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

The simple fact is, special educational needs are still being moulded by long-past ideas of what kids should be learning. Yes, the past two decades have witnessed enormous improvements as a result of legislation, funding, and educator training. But, most programs are founded on the wrong bases to start with.

Yes, large steps have been made in ensuring inclusion and celebrating diversity. Still, children with special educational needs are being treated the same to one another. And this goes against the basic principle most education leaders are proposing. It is human nature that we are all unique.

So, perhaps the answer isn’t to create pressure on kids to acquire pre-determined skill sets. Maybe it’s to invest more energy into finding the areas of training that they would enjoy the most.

Communication skills, creative self-expression, self-care and self-sufficiency are abilities that every single individual would benefit from learning. And it’s a solid direction to start shifting special education towards.

Putting Emphasis on Physical and Emotional Health

In addition to rethinking the knowledge being taught to special educational needs individuals, it’s also not a bad idea to start thinking about a more holistic approach to progress and learning for all kids.

According to reports, over 77,000 US children in special education receive suspensions or expulsions yearly. And 2.6% of these will have health impairments like ADHD. A significant number of special educational needs children drop out of school every year, which has a wide array of consequences on their lives, including even life span.

With this data in mind, it becomes evident that special educational needs shouldn’t just be addressed from a learning standpoint. More importantly, they need to be approached from a health standpoint. 

What is it that parents, educators, and institutions can do to ensure the wellbeing of these young individuals?

Well, data suggests that there is a wide array of things parents can do at home. Encouraging beneficial dietary habits, helping children with autism develop proper sleep hygiene, even providing sufficient opportunity for social interaction are all examples of practices that go a long way. 

Teachers should also be taught how to detect and address key issues. Furthermore, they need to be encouraged to find creative solutions for overcoming obstacles in the classroom.

Experts are unanimous on the importance of support for special educational needs. Regular in-school access to a psychologist, for example, is one of the key prerequisites for ensuring the emotional health of all young people, and especially those with specific educational needs. 

Parent-Teacher Communication

There is one last thing to keep in mind when thinking about the future of special educational needs: early detection and reaction can make a significant difference in how a child’s needs are addressed.

The best part is, there are very few hindering elements that would prevent improvements in parent-teacher communication. Simply put, parents must be encouraged to take a more active role in their children’s education. Moreover, educators need to be provided with support, as well. 

Training opportunities, funding, and access to essential assets – whether in the form of technology or assistance – are all key elements to improving the future of our children.

Final Thoughts

Currently, we’re well-aware of the challenges faced by special educational needs children. We now have the necessary scientific and statistical data to know that the current education system is flawed. But even more, we have a wide array of knowledge regarding practices that have been shown to yield positive results.

With this in mind, it’s time to address the issue of inclusion on a large scale. We must all work together to put pressure on legislative authorities. Perhaps even more importantly, we must protect and grow the resources available to the public educational system. Because, in the end, funding is great. But it is education, support, and raising awareness that makes the basis of genuine progress.


Guest post by Sarah Kaminski


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