Special Education in United Stated
lic school enrollment in the 2008-2009 school year, it is also important to note that when compared with the number of students receiving special education services in the 1980-1981 school year, which was 4.1 million, it can only be estimated that more students will need special education services in the coming years (Aud et al, 2011). According to a report done on behalf of the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities, special education is defined as “instruction that is specially designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.” A “disability” can be further defined as a physical disability, mental disability, or even a learning disability, in which while everything appears to be functioning on the outside, inside the head of the student whatever messages are sent are not clearly received, whether these messages involve spoken or written words, and can impair the ability of the student to do things such as speak, read, spell, write, or calculate numbers at the same pace as their peers (Aud et al, 2011). These learning disabilities are further defined by scientific terms and research, given names such as autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, and others (Aud et al, 2011). With the services offered by special education throughout the school systems across the United States today, a means of educating students with any form of disability is now available, and can enable them to not only absorb the information being given to them but also to retain and use that information to their benefit, whether immediately or throughout their life. The individualization of special education is its greatest asset to the educational system, yet it also makes it difficult to give an overall description of what is offered, as well as what it…
This paper approves that there can be no doubt that special education has followed its own long and winding road in terms of the services that are offered and the process that takes place. From the days in which those with disabilities were either left to be a burden on their families without a place in the world, to being housed at the expense of others in state institutions, to being allowed to pursue an almost mainstream education alongside their peers, special education has gone from being seen as a social stigma to almost commonplace.
This paper makes a conclusion that above all else, a huge debt of thanks and gratitude is owed to the pioneers of special education. To those such as Thomas Gallaudet, who believed that the deaf should not have to grow up in a silent world with no words to sustain them. To John Fisher and Samuel Gridley Howe, who were unwilling to accept that the world of darkness for the blind was the only world they should know. To the politicians and forward-thinkers, the philosophers and the reformers, to everyone who felt that education for all should be the norm, and not an unacceptable, unattainable goal. To those that worked endlessly to make others notice the plight of those left at the mercy of the state, called insane or “not right” because of disability. No matter what laws are passed, no matter what legislation is put in place and what education is received today because of it, without the people of history and their way of thinking, it would not exist at all.