Supports for Special Education Students

Services and Strategies Your Student May Deserve

A volunteer with a special needs student
A volunteer with a special needs student. Getty Images/Margie Politzer/Lonely Planet Images

Most parents of special education students remember when their child first came under the radar of her teachers and school administrators. After that initial call home, the jargon began to land fast and furious. IEPs, NPEs, ICT... and that was just the acronyms. Having a child with special needs requires that parents become advocates, and to learn all the options available to your child could (and does) fill a seminar.

Perhaps the fundamental unit of special ed options is the support.

What Are Special Ed Supports?

Supports are any services, strategies or situations that may benefit your child in school. When your child's IEP (Individualized Education Plan) team meets — that's you, your child's teacher, and school personnel that may include the psychologist, counselor, and others — most of the discussion will be about the kinds of supports that can help the student.

Kinds of Special Ed Supports

Some special education supports are fundamental. Your child may need transportation to and from school. She may be unable to function in a large classroom and need one with fewer pupils. He may benefit from being in a team-taught or ICT class. These kinds of supports will change the situation of your child in school, and may require changing his classroom and teacher.

Services is another typically prescribed support.

Services range from therapeutic consultations with a counselor to sessions with occupational or physical therapists. These kinds of supports rely on providers who may not be part of the school and may be contracted by the school or your town's department of education.

For some severely disabled children, or those whose disability is the result of an accident or other physical trauma, supports may take the shape of medical interventions.

Your child may need help eating lunch or using the bathroom. Often these supports fall beyond the capacity of a public school and an alternative setting is recommended.

The following is a list provides you with some samples of special education support modifications, adjustments, strategies and services that may be provided to meet the needs of various exceptional students. This list is also helpful to assist you to determine which strategies would best suit your child.

The list of examples will vary depending upon the actual level of support determined by the placement of the student.

  • Alternate curriculum
  • Specific reading materials
  • Anger and/or stress management
  • Special education teacher for resource or withdrawal support
  • Test and exam support
  • Attendance monitoring
  • Behavior management
  • Classroom modifications: alternate seating arrangements
  • Curriculum modifications and adjustments
  • Learning strategies
  • Educational assistant support (paraprofessional)
  • Peer teaching
  • Self contained class
  • Technology support
  • Facility modifications or adjustments
  • Partial school day
  • Toileting, feeding
  • Time out and/or physical restraints
  • Volunteer assistance
  • Small group instruction
  • Withdrawal support
  • Community work experience
  • Social integration
  • Supervision for non-instructional time
  • Smaller class size
  • Special timetable

These are just some of the supports that parents should be aware of. As your child's advocate, ask questions and raise possibilities. Everyone on your child's IEP team wants her to succeed, so don't be afraid to lead the conversation.