Areas of Exceptional Children and Adults (Categorical Titles) • Multicultural and Bilingual Aspects of Special Education • Mental Retardation • Learning Disabilities • Emotional or Behavioral Disorders • Communication Disorders • Hearing Impairment • Visual Impairment • Physical Disabilities • Giftedness
Exceptional Children Definition Exceptional children and youths are those who require special education and related services if they are to realize their full human potential. They require special education because they are markedly different from most children in one or more of the following ways: They may have mental retardation, learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, physical disabilities, disorders of communication, autism, traumatic brain injury, impaired hearing, impaired sight, or special gifts or talents.
Exceptional Children Concepts Two concepts are important to our educational definition of exceptional children and youths: (1) diversity of characteristics and (2) need for special education. The concept of diversity is inherent in the definition of exceptionality; the need for special education is inherent in an educational definition.
Exceptional Children Prevalence Prevalence refers to the percentage of a population or number of individuals having a particular exceptionality. The prevalence of mental retardation, for example, might be estimated at 2.3 percent, which means that 2.3 percent of the population, or twenty-three people in every thousand, are assumed to have mental retardation. If the prevalence of giftedness is assumed to be between 3 percent and 5 percent, we would expect somewhere between thirty and fifty people in a sample of a thousand to have special gifts of some kind. Obviously, accurate estimates of prevalence depend on our ability to count the number of people in a given population who have a certain exceptionality.
Exceptional Children Expectations Special educators have the responsibility to offer not just good instruction but instruction that is highly individualized, intensive, relentless, urgent, and goal directed.
Exceptional Children Myths/Facts
Exceptional Children Public schools may choose not to provide education for some students with disabilities. Federal legislation specifies that to receive federal funds, every school system must provide a free, appropriate education for every student regardless of any disabling condition.
Exceptional Children By law, the student with a disability must be placed in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The LRE is always the regular classroom. The law does require the student with a disability to be placed in the LRE. However, the LRE is not always the regular classroom. What the LRE does mean is that the student shall be separated as little as possible from home, family, community, and the regular class setting while appropriate education is provided. In many but not all instances, this will mean placement in the regular classroom.
Exceptional Children The causes of most disabilities are known, but little is known about how to help individuals overcome or compensate for their disabilities. In most cases, the causes of disabilities are not known, although progress is being made in pinpointing why many disabilities occur. More is known about the treatment of most disabilities than about their causes.
Exceptional Children People with disabilities are just like everyone else. First, no two people are exactly alike. People with disabilities, just like everyone else, are unique individuals. Most of their abilities are much like those of the average person who is not considered to have a disability. Nevertheless, a disability is a characteristic not shared by most people. It is important that disabilities be recognized for what they are, but individuals with disabilities must be seen as having many abilities-- other characteristics that they share with the majority of people.
Exceptional Children A disability is a handicap. A disability is an inability to do something, the lack of a specific capacity. A handicap, on the other hand , is a disadvantage that is imposed on an individual. A disability may or may not be a handicap, depending on the circumstances. For example, the inability to walk is not a handicap in learning to read, but it can me a handicap in getting into the stands at a ball game. Sometimes handicaps are needlessly imposed on people with disabilities. For example, a student who cannot write with a pen but can use a typewriter or word processor would be needlessly handicapped without such equipment.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects Multicultural education addresses the concerns of ethnic minorities who want their children to learn more about their history and the intellectual, social, and artistic contributions of their ancestors. This is a partial truth. In fact, multicultural education seeks to help the children of all ethnic groups appreciate their own and others’ cultural heritages-- plus our common American culture that sustains multiculturalism.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects Everyone agrees that multicultural education is critical to our nation’s future. Some people, including some who are members of ethnic minorities, believe that multicultural education is misguided and diverts attention from our integration in a distinctive, cohesive American culture.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects Implementing multicultural education is a relatively simple matter of including information about all cultures in the curriculum and teaching respect for them. Educators and others are struggling with how to construct a satisfactory multicultural curriculum and multicultural instructional methods. Nearly every aspect of the task is controversial-- which cultures to include, how much attention to give to each, and what and how to teach about them.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects Multiculturalism includes only the special features and contributions of clearly defined ethnic groups. Ethnicity is typically the focal point of discussions of multiculturalism, but ethnicity is sometimes a point of controversy if it is defined too broadly (for example, by lumping all Asians together). Besides ethnic groups, other groups and individuals-- such as people identified by gender, sexual orientation, religion, and disability-- need consideration in a multicultural curriculum.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects Disproportionate Representation of ethnic minorities in special education is no longer a problem. Some ethnic minorities are still underrepresented or overrepresented in certain special education categories. For example, African American students, especially males, are overrepresented in programs for students with emotional or behavioral disorders and underrepresented in programs for gifted and talented students.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects Disability is never related to ethnicity. Some disabilities are genetically linked and therefore more prevalent in some ethnic groups. For example, sickle cell disease (a severe, chronic, hereditary blood disease) occurs disproportionately in children with ancestry from Africa, Mediterranean and Caribbean regions, Saudi Arabia, and India.
Multicultural & Bilingual Aspects If students speak English, there is no need to be concerned about bilingual education. Conversational English is not the same as more formal and sometimes technical language used in academic curriculum and classroom instruction. Educators must make sure that students understand the language used in teaching, not just informal conversation.
Communication Disorders Categorical Factors Associated with Childhood Language Disorders I. Central factors A. Specific language disability B. Mental retardation C. Autism D. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder E. Acquired brain injury F. Others II. Peripheral factors A. Hearing impairment B. Visual Impairment C. Physical Impairment
Communication Disorders Categorical Factors Associated with Childhood Language Disorders (cont.) III. Environmental and emotional factors A. Neglect and abuse B. Behavioral and emotional development problems IV. Mixed factors
Causes Communication Disorders • Central factors refer to causes associated with central nervous system (i.e., brain) damage or dysfunction. • Peripheral factors refer to sensory or physical impairments that are not caused by brain injury or dysfunction but that, nevertheless, contribute to language disorders. • Environmental and emotional factors refer to language disorders that have their primary origin in the child’s physical or psychological environment. • Mixed factors are included because language disorders often have multiple causes—combinations of central, peripheral, and environmental or emotional factors.
Communication Disorders Myths/Facts
Communications Disorders Children with language disorders always have speech difficulties as well. It is possible for a child to have good speech yet not make any sense when he or she talks; however, most children with language disorders have speech disorders, as well.
Communications Disorders Individuals with communication disorders always have emotional or behavioral disorders or mental retardation. Some children with communication disorders are normal in cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Communications Disorders How children learn language is now well understood. Although recent research has revealed quite a lot about the sequence of language acquisition and has led to theories of language development, exactly how children learn language is still unknown.
Communications Disorders Stuttering is primarily a disorder of people with extremely high IQs. Children who stutter become stuttering adults. Stuttering can affect individuals at all levels of intellectual ability. Some children who stutter continue stuttering as adults; most, however, stop stuttering before or during adolescence with help from a speech-language pathologist. Stuttering is primarily a childhood disorder, found much more often in boys than in girls.
Communications Disorders Disorders of phonology (or articulation) are never very serious and are always easy to correct. Disorders of phonology can make speech unintelligible; it is sometimes very difficult to correct phonological or articulation problems, especially if the individual has cerebral palsy, mental retardation, or emotional or behavioral disorders.
Communications Disorders There is no relationship between intelligence and communication disorders. Communications disorders tend to occur more frequently among individuals of lower intellectual ability, although they may occur in individuals who are extremely intelligent.
Communications Disorders There is not much overlap between language disorders and learning disabilities. Problems with verbal skills-- listening, reading, writing, speaking-- are often central features of learning disabilities. The definitions of language disorders and several other disabilities are overlapping.
Communications Disorders Children who learn few language skills before entering kindergarten can easily pick up all the skills they need, if they have good peer models in typical classrooms. Early language learning is critical for later language development; a child whose language is delayed in kindergarten is unlikely to learn to use language effectively merely by observing peer models. More explicit intervention is typically required.
Hearing Impairment No deaf child who has earnestly tried to speak the words which he has never heard—to come out of the prison of silence, where no tone of love, no song of bird, no strain of music ever pierces the stillness—can forget the thrill of surprise, the joy of discovery which came over him when he uttered his first word. Only such a one can appreciate the eagerness with which I talked to my toys, to stones, trees, birds and dumb animals, or the delight I felt when at my call Mildred ran to me or my dogs obeyed my commands. It is an unspeakable boon to me to be able to speak in winged words that need no interpretation. --Helen Keller The Story of My Life
Hearing Impairment Definition and Classification The extreme points of view are represented by those with a physiological orientation versus those with an educational orientation. Those maintaining a strictly physiological viewpoint are interested primarily in the measurable degree of hearing loss. Children who cannot hear sounds at or above a certain intensity (loudness) level are classified as “deaf:” others with a hearing loss are considered “hard of hearing”. Hearing sensitivity is measured in decibels (units of relative loudness of sounds). Zero decibels (0 dB) designates the point at which the average person with normal hearing can detect the faintest sound. Each succeeding number of decibels indicates a certain degree of hearing loss. Those who maintain a physiological viewpoint generally consider people with hearing losses of about 90 dB or greater to be deaf and people with less to be hard of hearing. People with an educational viewpoint are concerned with how much the hearing loss is likely to affect the child’s ability to speak and develop language. Because of the close causal link between hearing loss and delay in language development, these professionals categorize primarily on the basis of spoken language abilities. Following is the most commonly accepted set of definitions reflecting this educational orientation:
Hearing Impairment Definition and Classification (Cont.) • Hearing impairment: is generic term indicating a hearing disability that may range in severity from mild to profound; it includes the subsets of deaf and hard of hearing. • A deaf person is one whose hearing disability precludes successful processing of linguistic information through audition, with or without a hearing aid. • A person who is hard of hearing generally, with the use of a hearing aid, has residual hearing sufficient to enable successful processing of linguistic information through audition • Educators are extremely concerned about the age of onset of the hearing impairment. Again, the close relationship between hearing loss and language delay is the key here. The earlier the hearing loss occurs in a child’s life, the more difficulty he or she will have developing the language of the hearing society (e.g., English). For this reason, professionals frequently use the terms congenitally deaf (those who were born deaf) and adventitiously deaf (those who acquire deafness at some time after birth). • Two other frequently used terms are even more specific in pinpointing language acquisition as critical: Prelingual deafness is “deafness present at birth, or occurring early in life at an age prior to the development of speech or language”; postlingual deafness is “deafness occurring at any age following the development of speech and language”.
Hearing Impairment PREVALENCE The U.S. Department of Education’s statistics indicate that about 0.14 percent of the population from six to seventeen years of age is identified as deaf or hard of hearing by the public schools. Although the U.S. Department of Education does not report separate figures for the categories of “deaf” and “hard of hearing,” some authorities believe that many children who are hard of hearing who could benefit from special education are not being served. Congenitally deaf. Deafness that is present at birth; can be caused by genetic factors, by injuries during fetal development, or by injuries occurring at birth. Adventitiously deaf. Deafness that occurs through illness or accident in an individual who was born with normal hearing. Prelingual deafness. Deafness that occurs before the development of spoken language, usually at birth. Postlingual deafness. Deafness occurring after the development of speech and language.
Hearing Impairment Myth/Facts
Hearing Impairment Deafness is not as severe a disability as blindness Although it is impossible to predict the exact consequences of a disability on a person’s functioning , in general, deafness poses more difficulties in adjustment than does blindness. This is largely due to the effects hearing loss can have on the ability to understand and speak oral language.
Hearing Impairment It is unhealthy for people who are deaf to socialize almost exclusively with others who are deaf. Many authorities now recognize that the phenomenon of a Deaf culture is natural and should be encouraged. In fact, some are worried that too much mainstreaming will diminish the influence of the Deaf culture.
Hearing Impairment In learning to understand what is being said to them, people with hearing impairment concentrate on reading lips. Lipreading refers only to visual cues arising from movement of the lips. Some people who are hearing impaired not only read lips but also take advantage of a number of other visual cues, such as facial expressions and movements of the jaw and tongue. They are engaging in what is referred to as speechreading.
Hearing Impairment Speechreading is relatively easy to learn and is used by the majority of people with hearing impairment. Speechreading is extremely difficult to learn, and very few people who are hearing impaired actually become proficient speechreaders.
Hearing Impairment American Sign Language (ASL) is a loosely structured group of gestures. ASL is a true language in its own right with its own set of grammatical rules.
Hearing Impairment ASL can convey only concrete ideas. ASL can convey any level of abstraction.
Hearing Impairment People within the Deaf community are in favor of mainstreaming students who are deaf into regular classes. Some within the Deaf community have voiced the opinion that regular classes are not appropriate for many students who are deaf. They point to the need for a critical mass of students who are deaf in order to have effective educational programs for these individuals. They see separate placements as a way of fostering the Deaf culture.
Hearing Impairment Families in which both the child and the parents are deaf are at a distinct disadvantage compared to families in which the parents are hearing. Research has demonstrated that children who are deaf who have parents who are also deaf fare better in a number of academic and social areas. Authorities point to the parents’ ability to communicate with their children in ASL as a major reason for this advantage.
Visual Impairment Legal Definition The legal definition of visual impairment involves assessment of visual acuity and field of vision. A person who is legally blind has visual acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye even with correction (e.g., eyeglasses) or has a field of vision so narrow that its widest diameter subtrends an angular distance no greater than 20 degrees. The fraction 20/200 means that the person sees at 20 feet what a person with normal vision sees at 200 feet. (Normal vision acuity is thus 20/20). Legal blindness qualifies a person for certain legal benefits, such as tax advantages and money for special materials. In addition to this medical classification of blindness, there is also a category referred to as partially sighted. According to the legal classification system, persons who are partially sighted have visual acuity falling between 20/70 and 20/200 in the better eye with correction.
Visual Impairment Educational Definition Many professionals, particularly educators, have found the legal classification scheme inadequate. They have observed that visual acuity is not a very accurate predictor of how people will function or use whatever remaining sight they have. Although a small percentage of individuals who are legally blind have absolutely no vision, the majority are able to see. For example, an extensive study of students who are legally blind found that only 18 percent were totally blind. Many of those who recognize the limitations of the legal definition of blindness and partial sightedness favor the educational definition, which stresses the method of reading instruction. For educational purposes, individuals who are blind are so severely impaired they must learn to read Braille or use aural methods (audiotapes and records). (Braille, a system of raised dots by which blind people read with their fingertips, consists of quadrangular cells containing from one to six dots whose arrangements denotes different letters and symbols.) Educators often refer to those individuals with visual impairment who can read print, even if they need magnifying devices or large-print books, as having low vision.