Assessment and Collaboration to Identify an Individual Pupil’s Special Needs

Children with disabilities and special needs ideally should be identified and supported with special education programs from an early age. For example, Down syndrome is identified at or before birth, and children with the condition should receive educational support as soon as possible. Autism can be diagnosed by the time a child is a toddler in some cases, and children with the condition also benefit from early intervention. There are special education teachers who specialize in helping with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, working in the child's home or at a day care or preschool. Such teachers with special education degrees impart knowledge about ways to encourage development with parents and/or work with special needs children to develop various skills needed to succeed in the next step of life. These special education teachers do not work on their own, but also draw on the expertise of therapists, medical professionals, social workers, and others to draw up an effective plan for meeting the needs of the child.

There are a number of ways to assess and evaluate older students and their special needs. Assessment and achievement tests can be given that measure a student's intellectual ability. Other assessments are based on observation, while still others measure abilities like motor skills and language skills. A learning potential assessment looks at how a student learns and his or her ability to acquire new information and skills. While some evaluation of a student's needs can be done outside of school at a doctor's office, hospital, or other facility, assessments can also be done at school. Special education teachers can help figure out what disability a child has and what services are appropriate for addressing those needs based on assessments. Special education teachers then collaborate with a team that includes administrators, health and medical professionals, therapists, parents or guardians, and the like to write an IEP that lays out the accommodations and support needed to help a special education student have a productive educational experience.

Last Updated: 05/07/2014

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