Special Education: Professional Careers That Offer Changes, Challenges and Promises

By LeVert, Sheila G.; LeVert, Phyllis N. | Diversity Employers, January-February 1994 | Go to article overview

Special Education: Professional Careers That Offer Changes, Challenges and Promises


LeVert, Sheila G., LeVert, Phyllis N., Diversity Employers


Careers in special education offer graduates opportunities to work closely with students, parents, other professionals as well as with people in the community. Special Educators ensure that students with disabilities obtain the benefits of and receive the education they need to succeed. For African Americans and other people of color, the field of special education offers excellent opportunities for them to make a difference in the lives of many disabled people. Special education is instruction designed for students with disabilities. Disabilities range from mild to severe and involve all age groups including infants, toddlers, children, and youth. Through recent regulations, legislatures have emphasized a need for programs and services for students with disabilities. Classroom teachers and other related service professionals help students with mental, physical, social, and behavioral problems that may inhibit learning. Using an individualized educational plan (IEP) these educators help students to correct or compensate for the disability and work alongside classroom teachers to help meet the needs of the student. Teachers in special education generally provide academic instruction in core courses (i.e., reading, math, science, etc.). Professionals in special education provide psychological testing, counseling, school social work, occupational therapy, physical therapy, adapted physical education, school health services, and transportation. Special education teachers and related services personnel work as a team with parents and other community agencies to support students in their learning. They guide students in discovering the greatness within themselves and help them to realize that they can achieve.

What professions can I consider in the field of special education?

Many different professionals provide services to students with disabilities:

* Special education teachers design instruction, materials, goals and classroom activities to match the varied learning styles, strengths, and weaknesses of each student. They work to ensure that students with disabilities receive the most appropriate instruction so they can be successful.

* School psychologists assess students to determine their learning and behavioral patterns. The results of these tests are used to plan individual programs and make decisions about students' learning environments.

* Physical therapists use techniques to help people with certain physical limitations develop better posture, stronger muscles, and body tone.

* Speech pathologists or language specialists work with communication skill development by evaluating speech disorders or deficits in language development. These professionals give therapy that helps individuals overcome or compensate for speech and language disorders.

* School counselors work with parents or students to help ensure that students' educational, vocational, and emotional needs are being adequately met.

* Occupational therapists employ the therapeutic use of self-care, work, and play activities and environmental adaptations to increase independent functions and enhance development and quality of life.

* Adapted physical education teachers individualize and modify physical education activities to help students develop physical fitness.

* Social workers assist students and their families to help them deal with problems affecting the children's adjustment in school.

* Interpreters for the deaf facilitate communication between deaf and hearing individuals by interpreting sign language and spoken language.

What do special education professionals do?

College students with interests in special education can choose a career path that provides specialized programs for specific types of disabilities, and be trained to work with any age group, from infants to adults including the elderly. Professionals can also work in different settings in schools and the community. …

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Special Education: Professional Careers That Offer Changes, Challenges and Promises
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