Special Educational Needs

Paul Main

How can classroom teachers provide effective interventions for their learners with Special Educational Needs?

What are Special Education Needs? 

Every child in the world has strengths and weaknesses, and each child will prosper under different conditions.  There is a lot of debate about special education needs students. Are these children incapable of learning as well as their mainstream peers and can specialized educational provision really remove the progress barriers they face? We shall discuss specific educational needs in full in this article and hopefully provide an overall big picture of this complex domain.

When a child has an additional learning difficulty or disability, which creates additional barriers to learning based on their age range. This is referred to as Special Education Needs (SEN). Some children may have trouble coping with their regular school day activities, such as finishing their schoolwork, communicating with others, or acting improperly and they may require an educational, health and care plan to meet their needs.

In this article, we will discuss what an inclusive education means and how every classroom can make learning accessible. We will begin the article by outlining the wide range of additional learning needs. Being able to provide suitable SEN provision requires us to have a good conceptual understanding of the sheer breadth of access needs. The class teacher, along with the SENDCo, often have to dig a bit deeper to get to the underlying issue the child is facing. The classroom behaviours don't always tell us the true picture and that's why it's important to involve specialists from the outset.

Common types of Special Education Needs:

A person with SEN may fall into at least one of these four groups, according to the Children and Families Act (DfE, 2014a):

1. Communication and Interaction: problems interacting with, reacting to, and understanding spoken language, such as speech problems or autism.

2. Cognition and Learning needs: It is primarily a problem with the taught curriculum, such as dyslexia (reading and spelling), dyscalculia (mathematics), dyspraxia (coordination), or dysgraphia (writing) (writing). Which may requires different types of support such as one-to-one support or group support. 

3. Social, mental, and emotional health: attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or autism, for example, cause problems in managing and expressing emotions and behavioural difficulties.

4. Sensory and/or Physical Needs: physical and sensory difficulties such as visual impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI), multi-sensory impairment (MSI), or physical disability.

Additionally, some children who are regarded as 'gifted and talented' may require SEN additional SEN support to suit their needs. Special education needs include not just the obstacles that students may face, but also children that their potential above their age range.

Overview of special educational needs
Overview of special educational needs

What educational provision should be considered for special educational needs?

Access Arrangements/ Accommodations:

Students with special needs might require access arrangements that includes accommodations in class and during exams. The concept of this approach takes into account the student's additional learning challenges. Arrangements for access include:

  • Allowing the student more time during activity time and during the exam time
  • During activity and exam periods, take a break.
  • Provide a separate room during exam time to reduce distractions.
  • Allow students to type their assignments and exams instead of writing them by hand.
  • To write the answers for the students, use speech recognition software.
  • Use reading software to assist students in reading 
  • Papers that have been modified, such as those with a large font

Differentiated Instruction: 

During the learning process, the teacher should ensure that all students are given an equal opportunity to have an access to the learning experience. Differentiated instruction is one technique to make learning experience more accessible to students. Instructions, outcomes, activities, and resources should all be differentiated. Instead of focusing on a child's limitations, differentiation seeks to focus on his or her learning preferences, strengths, and abilities. Less or more structure and tasks should be provided to students by their teachers. 'Gifted' students might be included in differentiated instruction.

Grouping Students:

Groups can help students who need extra assistance. Grouping students helps them to learn better. In addition, grouping students can help teachers to identify students' strengths and weaknesses. This might not form part of a school's philosophy of education, but it could mean meeting the additional learning needs of a child more effectively. Primary-age children should not have to be removed from classrooms and restricted to working every hour in the corridor, but effective SEN provision might sometimes mean considering the concentration levels of individual learners and making appropriate instructional changes.

Inclusion:

The inclusion model focuses on providing services to all students. This means that every student has the same opportunities to succeed. All students are expected to participate in the classroom activities and receive the same level of academic support.

The inclusion model is based on the belief that all students can learn if they are given the right tools and opportunities. It is important to note that some students will benefit from being grouped together while others will benefit from being taught individually.

Multisensory Learning using the learning blocks
Multisensory Learning using the learning blocks

Assessment:

Assessments should be used to determine whether the students are making progress towards their goals. Assessments should be done regularly so that the teachers can provide appropriate feedback to the students. Teachers should assess students using different methods including observation, tests, interviews, portfolios, and other assessment techniques.

Individual Education Plan (IEP): 

Teachers and participants must collaborate with parents and learners to create and design alternative / additional provision for students with special education needs. All areas of the pupil's well-being during the school day should be addressed in the IEP. Setting up a behaviour support service, additional SEN provision, speech therapy, health and care plans or accommodation advice for exams are all ideas that need to be included in the IEP.

Modification

Changing educational settings and assessment process to ensure that students have access to learning based on their abilities. Modify the objectives, for example.

Pragmatics:

It is a part of linguistics that deals with language and communication. This can lead to communication problems, inability to obey verbal directions and norms, inability to keep a conversation on track, or improper communication styles.

Psycho-educational assessment:

It is a method of acquiring and analysing data on a student's strengths and weaknesses. It necessitates the implementation of a particular test to assess additional learning demands, intellectual capacities, or to detect problems. This will make it easier to identify and provide the student with the required SEN provision.

Scaffolding:

Is the process of teaching a pupil tactics and strategies that will help them study more effectively and independently. Teach the student to underline keywords, break down the activity into little chunks, or make a to-do list to organise their time, for example. The scaffolding should be gradually eliminated once the student is able to work independently.

Visual Scaffolds such as Graphic Organisers
Visual Scaffolds such as Graphic Organisers

Strategies to Support SEN Pupils: 

  • In order to serve SEN students in mainstream schools or specialized schools, policy implications and objectives are critical. The services provided for children with SEN should be clearly stated in the policy along with all the other relevant details about the care for children.
  • Working with the team (teachers, health care workers, social workers, etc.) and parents to ensure that the SEN provision provided are appropriate and meet the needs of the students. These type of interventions need to meet the academic level of the child that can change over time.
  • To support teachers, participants, and parents in dealing with vulnerable children with SEN, provide ongoing training provision, workshops, and online learning. Some authorities offer additional short-term support that can be utilised in times of need. Services for children can differ from county to county as can the budget for children.
  • Confirm that the process and intervention follow the assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation steps. Continue to assess the outcome in order to analyse and adapt the strategy to meet the changing needs of the learner.
  • Create a supportive environment for the pupils. Confirm that students have positive personal and social interactions, that learning objectives are accessible, that active engagement is promoted, and that behaviour approaches are modified. Advice for parents needs to be freely available as well, and it's important that the school works in tandem with the family.
  • Be sure to follow the correct wave of intervention:
  • Universal Intervention: Low Need
  • Targeted Intervention for a Medium-Needed Population
  • Specialist Intervention is Required in Cases of Extreme Need.
  • Give straightforward instructions and differentiate the methods of instruction whenever possible.
  • Allow students to utilise software to help them read and write.
  • Allow extra time and breaks for the students.
  • Praise the effort rather than the result.

Supporting the Student with Dyslexia in an Inclusive Classroom

Some of the current thinking around catering for specific learning needs is to make classrooms inclusive for everyone. This effectively means creating a philosophy of education where everyone has access to the same opportunities and our job as educators is to reduce these barriers to learning. One example of this would be to use more visual material that everyone accesses. In this example, the dyslexic students are not restricted to using image-based materials and their peers use text-based materials, everyone receives the same accessible guidance in a pictorial format. This type of approach might reduce the stigma of providing additional SEN support as it's not clear as to who the intervention is for as everyone receives the same type of experience.

The importance of inclusive education for SEN students should be considered when discussing students with special needs. Every child should be able to enter and participate in the educational setting. The whole class should be involved in the learning environment with a well-designed inclusive education. The school must ensure that it creates a secure atmosphere that meets the academic, emotional and social development of the SEN students. The school also ensures that parents and employees have the necessary assistance to participate in the inclusive practice.

  • Give a brief introduction and summary of the day's schedule and events, not only of the taught lesson.
  • For example, give them a pencil reader so they can go through the material with a pencil to read it rather than reading it out loud to themselves during activity and explanation time. Use a variety of tools as well, including graphs, illustrations, audio recordings, highlights, and visual aids.
  • When presenting directions and explanations, use visual aids.
  • Utilize hands-on activities and give children the freedom to use manipulatives during activity time.
  • Use modelling to show them the task and the directions before asking them to complete it on their own.
  • Allow time for breaks and movements.
  • Find materials that will aid the student's participation and learning using reading guidelines and a pencil reader.
  • Set up a tiny whiteboard on their desk, let them write on it, then have them read it so they can eventually write the right response on the page.
  • Instead of writing down the assignments and homework, let them record it.

Using visuals in all aspects of special education
Using visuals in all aspects of special education

Supporting the Student with ADHD in the Inclusive Classroom

  • Providing the student a structured setting. While ADHD students struggle with organisation abilities, things will be simple for them if help and a structured environment are provided. A checklist list for the activity that needs to be completed by them.
  • Rules and expectations should always be made clear. For example; a pupil with ADHD might want to move around more than their peers. Do not let him remain motionless in a chair for 50 minutes; provide opportunities for motor movements. Additionally, acknowledge positive behaviour and respond quickly to unacceptable behaviour with appropriate consequences.
  • Give them at least 30 minutes each day during the school day for physical activity.
  • Restrict and minimize your screen time. More interactive tools and hands-on activities should be offered to the student.
  • Include the parents at all times. An key source of knowledge is the parents. Parents must always be informed of their child's progress, and their input is essential to determining whether any changes have occurred and how to handle them.

Supporting the Student with ASD in the Inclusive  Classroom

  • Make sure students have appropriate sensory materials in the classroom. For instance, the lighting is dimmed, the number of items that would produce noise is reduced, the class's temperature is appropriate, and visual distractions are avoided.
  • Give the students the option of working at their desks or on the floor, and provide them with comfy seats, such as beanbags.
  • Give the student a schedule and visual aid support.
  • Make sure the translation is seamless; for instance, begin with a chart and then a visual countdown.
  • The child's talents and shortcomings should be understood and known.
  • Be innovative when working with pupils; develop fresh tools, guidelines, and tactics.
  • Collaborate and exchange ideas with the SENCo, the school psychologist, the teachers, and the parents.

 

Reference:

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/children-special-educational-needs

https://technologyforlearners.com/an-overview-of-the-most-common-special-educational-needs-sen-symptoms-strategies/

https://www.cambridgeinternational.org/images/271195-special-educational-needs.pdf

https://blog.innerdrive.co.uk/5-ways-to-support-sen-students-in-the-mainstream-classroom

https://www.extendednotes.com/after-school-articles/5-things-you-need-to-create-an-inclusive-environment-for-students-with-adhd

https://www.kennedykrieger.org/stories/linking-research-classrooms-blog/supporting-inclusive-education-students-autism-spectrum-disorder-part-ii