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How can my child thrive with ‘inclusive’ special education?

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Each Dec. 2, we celebrate National Special Education Day, commemorating the anniversary of the nation's first law protecting the rights of children with special needs. President Gerald Ford signed the law in 1975.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees every child an appropriate public education. The law requires school districts to provide services and instruction for children with disabilities and other eligible conditions.

Four benefits of an inclusive education

If your child is eligible for special education, you may worry that they are kept apart from other kids their age. But most spend the majority of their time in general education classrooms in Texas. This inclusive learning environment has many benefits, including:

  • Tailored learning: General education and special education teachers work together to design instruction and strategies for all students. This can include breaking classrooms into smaller groups, adding visual aids and interactive whiteboards, giving all kids hands-on experience.
  • Minimizing differences: Your child is part of a diverse classroom, where each student absorbs information differently. Being in the same room allows kids to realize they have more in common and helps build and maintain friendships.
  • Everyone wins: In traditional education settings, kids needing speech therapists or other specialists are often pulled out of class. However, these professionals come into the classroom in inclusive programs, benefitting all students.
  • High expectations: An individualized education program (IEP) measures your child's education goals based on Texas academic standards for reading, math, science and other subjects. Learning in a general education classroom can be advantageous for receiving the same instruction as their classmates and meeting IEP goals.

Data supports inclusive special education

Each school district generally has its own approach to special education and for assigning students to inclusive or noninclusive classrooms. It's essential to understand how your child's needs will be addressed if they qualify for special education classes.

Studies show children with special needs who have access to inclusive learning are absent less, have increased self-esteem, develop stronger math and reading skills, pursue higher education more frequently and are more likely to have jobs after high school.

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