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The Special Education Process Explained

The purpose of special education is to “level the playing field” by providing specialized services to students with disabilities so that they can succeed academically.

Parents and educators know that children with special needs have gifts and talents—it’s just a matter of unleashing their full potential, and making sure that their parents and teachers have the right information, tools and support to help them. That’s where Special Education Guide comes in. We are your go-to resource for mastering the terminology, procedures and best practices in special education.

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Bring in the Experts

We draw upon the expertise of parents, educators and researchers to provide the information you require, from early identification to individualized education plans (IEPs) and response to intervention (RTI), as well as behavior management, parent-teacher relations, inclusion, technology tools and research. Our writers are experts in special education; they bring you practical information that you can apply in the classroom, your next IEP meeting or at home.

Learning is Power

It’s important to make sure that your child or student with special needs is learning; that means that you need to understand the ins and outs of special education. The Special Education Dictionary has a laundry list of terms and acronyms to help you make sense of all the jargon. You’ll be speaking “SPED” before you know it! Our Disability Profiles will help you understand how federal laws define disabilities eligible for special education services, and provide practical information on typical characteristics, as well as tips on addressing educational challenges.

Our Early Intervention section addresses services for the youngest children with special needs, from birth to their third birthdays. If you live or work with children under age 3 who have a disability or experience difficulty in learning, early identification and early intervention can make a profound difference in their educational and behavioral progress. Your active participation in the identification and assessment process is key.

Parents and teachers of children age 3 to 18 can go to our Pre-K to 12 section to learn what to expect, with a review of the special education process and detailed accounts of how schools develop individualized education programs (IEP) and response to intervention (RTI) plans for students. We also help parents and educators use assessments and observations to develop effective action plans to use at home, addressing topics such as behavior and classroom management and how parents and teachers can work together. In addition, you can discover the power of effective inclusion and how accommodations and modifications can produce measurable results.

Celebrate the Individual

Addressing a child’s educational and behavioral needs is not a cookie-cutter process. You need ongoing support, resources and tools that keep you informed and assist you along the way. Special Education Guide will help you navigate the process of educating children with special needs, honoring their unique gifts and potential.


The Special Education Process Explained

The purpose of special education is to provide equal access to education for children ages birth through 21 by providing specialized services that will lead to school success in the general curriculum. If your child’s health care provider, teacher, other interested party or you suspect that your child may be [...] More


What’s Inclusion? Theory and Practice

When journeying into the realm of special education you will almost certainly come across the term inclusion. Parents, you may stumble upon the word while trying to determine what possibilities exist for your child. Teachers, you likely encounter inclusion every year when you receive your class roster, identify the students with individualized education programs (IEPs) and evaluate [...] More


Understanding the Components of RTI

You might notice when reading about response to intervention (RTI) that different states and organizations may use different terms and structures. This is because although RTI was mentioned in IDEA 2004, it was not described; thus, both federal and state agencies are currently clarifying and testing new ideas that will eventually become [...] More