Posted: July 7th, 2015

History of Special education



Special education is a complex area which entails many aspects of education. Its definition is wide and reflects the various aspects. On one hand there are some who view special education as a legislative governed education to enhance the flow of an informed participation of the parents in the process of decision making. The practitioners in this field are supposed to adhere to set procedure to facilitate children’s learning. Special education in the sociopolitical view initiates a quest through the civil rights movements whereby education should be in favor of students with disability. The sociopolitical perspective supports the notion of society’s acknowledging the essence educating children with disabilities (Reynolds & Fletcher-Janzen, 2007).

Intervention services are very critical in early stages of a child with disability. The early interventions mandate is to create programs which prepare children with disabilities to face the challenges of the general education curriculum. The main aim of these programs is to increase the skills of the child to prepare them for adulthood. The different forms of tasks which prepare a child with disabilities fall in many categories. To start with, is the preventive intervention whereby the teacher concentrates in preventing the elementary disabled child from any form of mistreatment by another. In advanced stages the mistreatment may come from the teachers. Some teachers may unjustly blame a student with disability for any form of misbehavior in the class. There are other categories which include the peers excluding them from their day to day school activities. Any form of disabled student mistreatment is unjust and it affects the emotional and the interpersonal relations of a disabled student. The disabled students once faced with any form of mistreatment will be subjected to mental disorder, psychological stress and low self esteem (Reynolds & Fletcher-Janzen, 2007).

In numerous instances, the preventive intervention aims at having a monitoring role in preventing the right schools framework to eliminate all forms of bullying against students with disability in schools. Having model bullying prevention mechanism requires the collaboration with parents, teachers and the students. The policies and procedures involved lay down ways in which to prevent bullying and how it can be reported. Compensatory education is very essential in offering a stable support. The social deficits experienced in the education sector can be devastating specifically when directed to students with disabilities (Heward, 2009).

Compensatory education is geared towards offering supplementary programs so as to assist disabled children who maybe faced by cognitive impairment which may essentially lead to low education achievement when reaching full potential. The education has many goals to attain which include making sure that children grow up with the same academic skills like their fellow peers. The objectives of having compensatory education are geared towards having special attention to children with disabilities. The compensatory education enhances learning in children with disability without developmental delays (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2010).

Compensatory programs have proved very effective in making sure that students with disabilities are supported to attain required skills. The special education programs could not achieve the success required without the legislations creating the framework being put in place. That has been through the following timeline:

  • In 1965 congress created the Bureau Education for the Handicapped. The move was to have a tittle to the Elementary and School Education Act legislated in 1965. The Bureau came at a time when education of the people with disabilities was not provided under any state or federal law. However, the presence of the bureau was a very significant step towards the change realized later.
  • Students with disability are recognized through two land mark supreme Court decisions. The cases were PARC v. Pennsylvania (1972) and Mills v. D. C. Board of Education (1972). The applicability of equal protection to students with disability was realized. The rulings made it crystal clear that children with disabilities have equal right to access education just like the non-disabled peers. The decisions had a substantial impact since students started going to school even when there was no law to support that. This court decisions greatly assisted in dealing with discrimination on disabled children and their parents.
  • The rehabilitation Act of 1973 was legislated with Section 504 providing for outlawing any form of discrimination against persons with disability. The Act is said to have been enacted at a time when many teachers did not know of its applicability in Public schools.
  • In 1974, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act were legislated. This Act gave parents the mandate to access all personal identifiable information collected and maintained regarding their children.
  • In 1975, the enacting of Education for All Handicapped children Act was evidenced. The new phase changed the perception of the period before 1975. Numerous Supreme Court decisions followed which clearly stated that all district schools should educate students with disabilities with any denial of the said services.
  • The regulation guidelines of the Education for All Handicapped Children Act were released. Laws were passed without rules but by 1977-1978, various rules were set so as to govern district public schools in educating students with disabilities.
  • In 1986 the amendment of the EAHCA to incorporate Handicapped Children’s Act was done. District assessments to make sure that the programs on students with disabilities are adhered to were created so as to enhance accountability in the schools.
  • The 1990 was a new era for individuals with disability whereby the Americans with Disabilities Act were enacted.
  • Seven Years later in 1997, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) was reauthorized.
  • In 2001, No Child left Behind Act was enacted. The law focused on making sure that all students with disabilities acquired skill in math within the set target of 2014.
  • In 2004, IDEA was reauthorized again with calling accountability on the State in making sure that the State makes follow ups to make sure that the said laws are observed in schools (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2010).

With the state having a clear monitoring strategy and various interventions, it is clear that students with disabilities are considered and their needs sufficiently addressed. The school assuring framework to offer special interventions and guidance to the disabled students greatly helped children with disabilities (Heward, 2009).


Identification of a student with the exceptional learning needs takes patience and close monitoring of the student so as to get to discover that. In many instances, the identification of the exceptional needs may be hindered by cultural as well as linguistic diversity. The aforementioned can only be cured by having an open minded way of handling students. The hindrances may also be propelled by discrimination towards people with disabilities. Experience has shown that people with disability are obvious considered weak but some have exception rate of understanding. However, it ought to be remembered that   every exceptional need in a student is only identifiable through free and friendly environment.












Gargiulo, R. M., & Kilgo, J. L. (2010). An introduction to young children with special needs: Birth through age eight. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth CENGAGE Learning

Heward, W. L. (2009). Exceptional children: An introduction to special education. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill/Pearson.

Reynolds, C. R., & Fletcher-Janzen, E. (2007). Encyclopedia of special education: A reference for the education of children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities and other exceptional individuals. New York: John Wiley & Sons.



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