Special Considerations - Part of an Individual Education Plan

Identifying Additional Areas of Need in Students with Disablities

Boy reading book at desk
Boy reading book at desk. Getty Images/JGI/Jamie Grill/Blend Images

Definition:

Special Considerations is a section in an Individual Education Plan that focuses on specific concerns in a students profile. After the section known as Present Levels, it is designed to address any specific areas of need as well as his or her primary diagnosis or area of need. 

The special considerations section of the IEP helps you clearly identifying the sorts of services the child may require in addition to addressing his or her needs academically.

   Although a child's primary diagnosis may be a cognitive disability or autism, the special considerations section quickly lays out other significant problems a child might have. It will ask the following questions:  These other impairments are referred to as examples of "co-morbidity."  Co-morbidity may range from emotional disorders such as  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to physical disorders, such as hearing impairments or visual acuity impairments.  They appear frequently, especially in children with autism spectrum disorders. 

  • Is the Student Blind or Visually Impaired?
  • Is the student Deaf or Hearing Impaired?
  • Does the student have communication needs?
  • Does the student have limited English proficiency?
  • Does the student exhibit behaviors that impede his/her learning or that of others?

When any of the special considerations is checked off with a yes, the IEP team is required to address those specific areas of need.

Those may show up in the special services section of the IEP, which will address speech language pathology, medical attention to visual impairments as well as ELL and assistive technology.  

The last question concerning behaviors, if checked off, indicates that behavioral challenges present a significant barrier to academic success.

  Often, special education teachers will avoid checking this because they don't want to write a Behavior Improvement Plan.  Bad decision.  Often our students present significant challenges because their behavior has successfully got them the things they want, which are called the "functions of behavior."  Tantrums or aggression may be the way our students avoid or escape demand.  Crying uncontrollably may simply be the way a child gets attention.  The four basic functions of behavior include avoidance (how to get out of doing what the teacher wants,) acquisition of desired objects, food or activity, naturally reinforcing behaviors (such as those that provide sensory input) and attention (getting attention from peers or a significant adult, such as the teacher or a parent.) 

These behaviors need to be addressed in an FBA, or Functional Behavior Analysis and the creation of a Behavior Intervention (or Improvement) Plan also known as a BIP. A Behavior improvement plan will create proactive and reactive strategies to build replacement behaviors and support future behavioral success.

A Behavior Intervention Plan should address no more than two target behaviors at a time.  If you plan carefully each behavioral challenge will lead to success as you address later behavioral issues.