Over 6.7 million students are currently receiving some form of special education.
If you’re thinking of teaching children with a learning disability or other special needs, then it’s important to understand just how broad the category of “special education” actually is.
In this post, we’ll quickly introduce you to the thirteen types of special education. This way, you can decide which areas you’d like to focus on as you continue on the path toward becoming a special education professional.
This refers to a student that has difficulties when it comes to both hearing and seeing what’s being said and shown to them.
They may not be completely deaf or blind, but the combination of the two of these issues makes it harder for them to learn at the rate of their peers.
In some cases, they have struggled so much that a school dedicated specifically to only the deaf or only the blind did not have the resources to help them.
2. Hearing Impairment
A student with a hearing impairment may not be completely deaf, but they are hard of hearing. In some cases, they may be deaf in one ear or deal with a hearing loss that changes and progresses with time.
In short, it’s any loss or change in hearing that isn’t defined as deafness.
A deaf child has many specific needs in the classroom.
You may need to learn ASL, understand how to operate a hearing aid system, and find other ways to communicate with deaf students.
4. Specific Learning Disability
A child with a specific learning disability, or SLD, has been diagnosed with a processing or learning issue.
They may have a single learning disability, or they may have more than one. This can make it hard for the child to read, communicate, write, understand math, and more.
Specific Learning Disabilities can include an auditory processing disorder, Dyslexia, a nonverbal learning disability, or Dysgraphia.
There are over 3.5 million Americans currently living on the Autism spectrum.
Autism means that a child may have difficulty expressing or controlling their emotions, have trouble with communication, and even struggle to make friends.
They may also make repetitive movements, fixate on ideas, and become extremely sensitive to their sensory surroundings (like light or sound.)
6. Other Health Impairment
This is a bit of an “umbrella term” when it comes to the types of special education available to learners today.
This can refer to conditions and illnesses that impact a child’s strength, ability to focus or stay awake, and more.
For example, ADHD falls under the category of “Other Health Impairment.
7. Visual Impairment/Blindness
There are nearly 63,000 students who are either blind or dealing with another more severe visual impairment.
Be aware that a child who wears glasses will not fall under the category of Visual Impairment.
A student may require special accommodations, need help learning braille, or even need a guide around their school.
8. Speech or Language Impairment
This is another blanket term in the world of special education. This means that a child has issues with speaking or communication.
They may not speak the language of instruction, they may stutter, and they may have some sort of a voice impairment that prevents them from speaking.
9. Emotional Disturbance
A student with an emotional disturbance deals with moderate to severe mental health issues.
In some cases, they have been diagnosed with a more severe mood disorder, like Bipolar Disorder or even Borderline Personality Disorder. They may also have schizophrenia, extreme anxiety, or even obsessive-compulsive disorder.
They may become angry, mean, or violent, or they may withdraw and isolate themselves to the extreme.
10. Traumatic Brain Injury
This type of special education refers to a student that has suffered from a brain injury that has impacted their physical and/or emotional/learning development.
Usually, this happened because of an accident. In some cases, however, the brain injury could have been sustained because of abuse.
11. Intellectual Disability
This refers to children that don’t simply have a learning disability but have an intellectual ability that is well below average for their age range.
For example, the student may have Down Syndrome.
In some cases, this lower intellectual level can make it hard for the student to take care of themselves. It could also impact their overall social life, and make it tough for them to communicate their needs and feelings.
12. Multiple Disabilities
In some cases, children will have more than one of the disabilities on this list.
This means that parents may need to look into more specialized programs to ensure that their students get the education support they need.
13. Orthopedic Impairment
Students with an orthopedic impairment deal with situations that make it difficult for them to move as easily as children without some sort of disability can.
They may be in a wheelchair, be missing a limb, need a walker, or have a limp or another issue that makes it harder for them to move. In some cases, they may be unable to write or fully turn their heads to read.
The 13 Types of Special Education: Wrapping Up
We hope that this brief overview of the 13 types of special education has helped you to narrow down your specifications when it comes to what you want to concentrate on.
Remember that special education, though challenging, is one of the most rewarding professions to get into.
If you’re ready to jump start your career, let us help you learn how to make a difference in the lives of your future students.