Special needs education refers to the equipment of physically or mentally handicapped students with the necessary skills and knowledge. The education provided to the handicapped students is aimed at making them self-dependent and active like their able colleagues. The handicapped children’s curriculum is designed with respect to the pupil’s disabilities and should be accompanied by appropriate support services.
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In the United States, special education officers oversee the equitable implementation of technical and professional assistance to the disabled students. Disability may be long term or short term. In this case, long-term disability is ascertained through diagnostic screening while short-term disability such as broken arms may be evaluated through medical reports or physical examination (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2009).
Diagnostic screening is the first step in the process of screening and evaluation of a child believed to have special needs. This entails the determination of whether the student involved is autistic, has sensory impairment, has severe emotional challenges or is multiply disabled. The main purpose of diagnostic screening is to distinguish between handicapped and talented students.
The students suspected to be physically challenged are conferred to an appropriate team, which will assist them to participate in the diagnostic screening. Qualified educational professionals undertake the screening of new students suspected to be handicapped, and those who do not pass the minimum percentiles in Regents Preliminary Test. Such a test involves evaluation of students in terms of reading and writing skills.
Health examinations records provided by licensed physicians help to ascertain the pupils’ level of disability in many cases (Amendment of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education, 2012). The results of a diagnostic screening are included in a report reviewed by qualified district education staffs.
For children with limited language proficiency, screening involves the ascertainment of the students’ physical and mental development. This includes motor development, cognitive development and expressive language development. Basic listening, reading, writing and other expressive skills are assessed in the process.
Emotionally challenged children may face a difficulty in developing language proficiency. Consequently, the New York States’ disability screening and identification procedure is used. This is a three-step process designed to address their challenges.
A questionnaire is administered to determine the student’s home or native language. When the student’s home language is not English, an interview is scheduled. The ultimate result of this interview is used to ascertain whether a non-English-speaking or native English-speaking student has the desired oral capabilities. Students who do not portray the expected results are enrolled to the general education program.
The assessment of the pupil’s language proficiency is carried out at all levels to determine the necessity of undertaking the pupil on a placement program. The placement program may be either a bilingual educational program or freestanding English as a Second Language (ESL) program (Meisels, 2008).
The students with disabilities are subjected to appropriate access modification and accommodative assessment depending on the form of their disability. The tests provided are modified to eliminate any difficulty in the test-taking exercise resulting from disability. The tests should be modified to accommodate the needs of the disabled, but not to the extent of reducing the credibility of the test exercise.
In this case, it should be to a level that the students portray a level of mastery of educational skills and knowledge. The adjustments made in assessment tests can be in the form of presentation, response, timing and the classroom setting. The disabled students will get an allowance to complete the assessments like their able counterparts.
The committee of special education, multidisciplinary team and the school’s principal are involved in mandating the modifications of tests to accommodate the disabled students. Assessment accommodations are necessary for children with motor impairments.
These impairments may negatively affect their computational and arithmetic skills. Moreover, other students will have their memorizing ability hampered. To meet the needs of the assessors, they have to be provided with arithmetic tables or have requirements such as punctuations and spellings waived (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2009).
The challenges faced by autistic children demand a range of modifications in the assessment exercise to accommodate their needs. Unlike other forms of disabilities, autism may severely impair a child’s abilities without a known cause. The services needed by students depend on the child’s needs. Therapists, who are trained on inability caused by autism, should offer their support to the children.
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For instance, an autistic child who may be having a communicative difficulty requires the services of a therapist who focuses on the child’s speech development. Family inclusion and repeated teaching may be organized in small intervals. The services may be altered with time as the needs may change with time. Consequently, the modifications allowable during the assessment of the autistic pupils focus on an individual’s needs.
This process alteration may be done through the usage of structured teaching, individualized coaching and focus on social and cognitive skills (Birch Family Services, 2011). Physical and verbal prompts may be involved to capture and maintain focus of autistic students that have the inability to maintain attention.
A review of students’ vision and hearing abilities may be tested to determine the consequential impact of students’ impairment on the learning process. Blind or visually impaired students may be accommodated through the usage of Braille or large print assessment tests respectively. On occasions where the questions tested cannot be reproduced in Braille, the questions may be revised to make them accessible.
The time allocated to the tests should be adjusted to allow usage of the modifications made in the assessment. Breaks may be allowed for eyestrain, and extra time allowed for the time consumed during illustration of diagrams. Special lights may be used to help those with visual impairment. Audio tapes, computers with talking word processers and visual magnification equipment may also be employed.
Qualified interpreters should communicate test instructions through a sign language to deaf students. Hearing aids or auditory amplification devices should be provided to take care of their needs. Repetitive listening sections may be encouraged, and markers used to maintain learning pace (Meisels, 2008).
Children with multiple disabilities may require combined assistance to accommodate their educational needs. The needs may not be exclusively available within the special education plan as the plan may solely serve for the needs brought about by one of their impairments. The students with multiple disabilities require extensive assistance to be integrated into the accommodative modifications.
This ensures that they can access privileges enjoyed by other student with fewer disabilities. A multidisciplinary team formed by the parents, medical, and educational specialists should cater for the needs that accompany the disabilities. The severity of any impairment calls for more significant attention on the support offered to cover for that form of disability.
The evaluator should familiarize students with the tests they are required to take by explaining the purpose of the test and providing accommodations before administering the assessments. Sufficient rest should be emphasized to reduce stress and advance relaxation. Regular monitoring of the students in the program should be carried out through continuous assessment of their development.
The challenged students are offered additional programs to cover for extra-curricular activities and help them develop social skills and self-esteem. An Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is resorted to when the student with disability demands unique needs. However, all-inclusive programs are encouraged to help prevent stigmatization of the handicapped pupils (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2009).
A team appointed by the district officer designs both the IEP and the Individual Family Service Plan (ISFP). The IEP determines the educational services required by a disabled child. The team members, who design the IEP, are parents, social service worker and other relevant service providers.
On the other hand, the ISFP has a team that consists of the students, regular education teachers, special education teacher, and the school district representative. The IEP portrays the contribution in assessments and certifies where alternative evaluation is suitable or not. The IEP procedures and plan requirements devolve to the educational components of the ISFP (NYSED, 2011).
The disabled students heed instructions from other members of the team whilst exercising a powerful voice of command in the educational practice. One provides useful information in the testing accommodations required. The student develops mentally and physically by adopting the programs provided. On the other hand, general education teachers provide a classroom setting and appropriate curriculum to the student.
A special education teacher provides the student with need-based assistance to adapt to the general education activities. They provide the accommodative adjustments to the assessments given to the students and serve the unique needs required by the student. Other team members may include therapists, a disability specialist, psychologist, counselor and a nurse or a physician.
The therapists and the specialists support the disabled student by providing expert services according to the form of disability. The counselor monitors and assesses the pupils’ emotional health while providing counseling. Nurses and physicians provide medical services by administering proper medication to the student (Meisels, 2008).
The parents of the disabled student have a very significant role to play. They provide the valuable background information on the students’ disability and family culture. The parents must give consent before their child joins an individualized education program and accentuates the reviews to the program.
They should submit the information such as children’s medical evaluation records and even share on the child’s abilities, before their enrolment in the IEP. The association between the parent and the school is vital to the child’s development since the child’s progress is effectively monitored. Solutions are mutually mined to cater for problems that the pupil experiences within an educational or placement program (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2009).
The parents maintain records of any issues that may need clarification from other team members such as the specialist teachers. Parents’ union also becomes a collective force that advocates for issues on behalf of their disabled children. Inclusion of the children in the general educational activities is at the parents’ discretion. Parents must be involved in handling disciplinary issues involving their children at school.
Social workers act as an intermediary between the school and the parents. They collect information regarding the students’ background while they assist students’ transition from early intervention to in-school services in the individualized education program. They coordinate support programs beneficial to the student governed by the local agencies and are involved in family counseling and training.
The mandate of the federal, state and city regulations affects special education programs in several spheres. The federal laws govern the accommodative adjustments to the assessment of disabled students. They make sure that the disabled students receive equitable aid, opportunities, benefits, and services. The laws ensure all services available to able individuals are also available to the disabled ones.
State laws such as the Individual with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) offer the procedure of designing the testing accommodations and alternative assessments (Meisels, 2008). The laws enclosed in the act govern the disabled child’s right to receive appropriate education and access least restrictive environment placement.
The laws give regulation on the drafting of the IEPs and the ISFPs, which the team members must be involved during the formulation. The District laws can give a ruling on whether a student requires beyond the classroom intervention as per the Committee on Special Education’s recommendation. The state and local laws also administer transitional services to provide for school to post-school events.
Students with disabilities command a closer interaction with their educators, families, and special education service providers for them to explore their mastery of skills and knowledge. In order to learn essential skills, a specialized education dissemination procedure must be employed after the student has been screened and the form of disability established.
Amendment of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education. (2012). Amendment of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education- Special Education Impartial Hearings: Special Education : EMSC : NYSED. P-12 : NYSED. Web.
Birch Family Services. (2011). Autism Services | Birch Family Services. Birch Family Services. Web.
Gargiulo, R. M., & Kilgo, J. L. (2009). Young children with special needs: an introduction to early childhood special education. Albany, NY: Delmar/Thomson Learning.
Meisels, S. J. (2008). Special education and development: perspectives on young children with special needs. Baltimore: University Park Press.
NYSED. (2011). NYSED:Bilingual Ed:Information:Commissioner’s Regulations Part 154 Information. P-12 : NYSED. Web.