Busting Some Special Education Myths - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Program Spotlight
November 15, 2018

Busting Some Special Education Myths


Do you have a heart for teaching students with disabilities, finding inspiration in their desire for life? At Geneva College, we believe that teaching special needs children is as much a calling as it is an occupation. And it’s an occupation in great need of skilled and certified educators. According to the U.S. Department of Education, public schools in 46 states experienced teacher shortages in special education for the 2017-18 school year, reports CNN.

Teaching students with disabilities is a truly God-given privilege, an opportunity to serve those whom many in our society deem challenging. Some of those challenges are due to the multitude of Myths and misconceptions that surround children who require special education. Let’s look at some of the most prevalent.

Myth: Learning and attention issues are not common.

Fact: As many as 1 in 5 people have them. More than half the children in special education are classified as having learning disabilities (LD) or other health impairments (OHI), which includes kids whose ADHD is the primary reason they qualify for special education, notes the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Myth: There’s no cure for learning and attention issues.

Fact: Classroom accommodations, certain therapies and other supports can help children with these conditions be successful at school and in life.

Myth: Learning and attention issues are linked to IQ, and people with these conditions can’t have successful careers.

Fact: Learning and attention issues are not linked to low intelligence. Such notable individuals as Richard Branson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cher, Michael Phelps, and Daymond John have learning and attention issues.

Myth: Kids in special education have to be in a separate classroom.

Fact: Most kids who get special education services are in the same classroom as kids who don’t. Studies indicate that two-thirds of kids with learning disabilities spend 80 percent of their day in the general education classroom with all the other students. This is legally required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and known as the "least restrictive environment," or LRE.

Myth: Kids in special education have to ride the "special bus."

Fact: Some children do have access to legally allowed "special transportation," but it’s optional. If a child attending a neighborhood school has no problems on the regular bus or is able to take public transit, there’s no reason she would take a special bus.

Myth: Special education is only for kids with severe physical and intellectual disabilities.

Fact: Most kids in special education do not have severe disabilities. The majority of students fit into the category of “specific learning disability,” which means they have reading issues such as dyslexia, or math issues such as dyscalculia, explains parent advocate and former teacher Amanda Morin for Understood.

Myth: Kids in special education have to take ADHD medications.

Fact: Taking medication for ADHD is an individual decision made by the child’s parents in consultation with his doctor. IDEA specifically states that schools can’t require a child to take medication to receive services.

Myth: Kids in special education don’t get a good education.

Fact: Changes in special education over the years have helped to ensure students get a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and that they’re not separated from their peers without justification. “There’s more research and awareness of learning and attention issues. And personalized learning, multisensory teaching, and assistive technology have changed how many kids are taught,” notes Amanda Morin of Understood.

Myth: Kids in special education will be labeled forever.

Fact: It’s natural for parents to worry about the stigma of a "label," but special education focuses on services and supports based on a child’s needs. Parents who are strong advocates for their children can help teachers understand who the child is in real life, aside from just a label on paper. A child who gets the help she needs in a timely way won’t necessarily be in special education for her entire school career.

If you’re looking for a special education course in PA to give you the tools to help a wide range of ages and needs, Geneva can help. Our PK-4 course of study is combined with a PK-8 special education teaching program. This allows the nurturing spirit of an early childhood educator to reach into the world of older children whose learning styles have yet to fully mature or who have disabilities challenging their ability to learn.

If you’d like to learn more about professions that enable you to serve wholeheartedly and faithfully in your life’s work or want to learn more about a biblically based, Christ-centered education at Geneva, we’d love to chat with you. For more information on how Geneva College can help you pursue your education goals, please phone us at 855-979-5563 or email web@geneva.edu.