Special appropriate behaviors will eventually lead to longer


Education for Exceptional Students: Transforming our Prospective


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            Teaching children with exceptionalities can be extremely
challenging, but also very rewarding. No two children are alike, and it is up
to us as instructors to create programs that will help these students to live
and learn to their fullest potential. When we started this semester, we lacked
the knowledge to complete this task, but as we progressed our eyes were opened
allowing us to see these special students in a new light. This reflects that transformation
from student to teacher.

and applying theoretical evidence to your practice

            Mental and behavioral issues are
unique and based on the individual. Gargiulo (2015) defines emotional and
behavioral disorder as, “A chronic
condition characterized by behaviors that significantly differ from age norms
and community standards to such a degree that educational performance is
adversely affected.”

The first step that I would take to develop a
curricular guideline for the student is to research their medical, educational
and psychological history to learn as much as possible about the student. The
student should be placed in an area by my desk so that I can not only visually
supervise the student, but also give one on one guidance without disturbing the
rest of my classroom as recommended by Gargiulo (2015)

According to Conroy and Sutherland (2012) Students
with problematic behaviors respond better to praise and positive reinforcement.
Negative reinforcement will only serve to complicate or worsen the behavior causing
the student act out more because they get more attention. The use of positive
reinforcement of appropriate behaviors will eventually lead to longer and more
positive teacher and student interactions. Conroy and Sutherland (2012) also
advises that consequences must be handed down instantly to reinforce the
connection between the wrong behavior and what is expected. Teachers can do
this by reinforcing classroom rules and expectations for all students.

For students starting at an elementary level who
have emotional and behavioral disorders, group play sessions may help them
learn proper ways to communicate and respond to their peers and authority

Children with ADHD,  have characteristic inabilities to socialize
and to display behavioral problems. An article that I have read several times
now, “Integrated Play Groups: Promoting Symbolic Play and Social Engagement
with Typical Peers in Children with ASD Across Settings” Wolfberg,
Dewitt, Young and Nguyen (2015) discusses the idea that typical or normal
students can be a great asset in helping teach special needs children
socialization skills. Such play groups were shown to support significant gains
in symbolic and social play that further passed to unrelated groups of students
who are unknown to the students with special needs. These play groups can be
overseen by the teacher physically and visually to gage the effectiveness and
reinforced by positive feedback creating a deeper teacher/ student
relationship. Wolfberg, Dewitt, Young and Nguyen (2015) use a model for group
play, including:

Nurturing play initiations involves recognizing, interpreting and
responding to the subtle and idiosyncratic ways in which novice players express
their interests and intentions to play in the company of peers.

 Scaffolding play involves
systematically adjusting the amount and type of support based on the degree to
which novice and expert players can coordinate their own play interactions.

 Guiding social communication supports
novice and expert players in using verbal and nonverbal social communication
cues to elicit another’s attention, initiate and respond to each other’s
initiations, and sustain reciprocal engagement in play.

Guiding play within the
”ZPD” encompasses a continuum of
strategies that support novice players in peer play experiences that are
slightly beyond the child’s capacity while fully immersed in the whole play
experience at his or her present level, even if participation is minimal.

Related Perspectives on Issues of Exceptionality

            When working with a multi-disciplinary
team to create an IEP for a student with cerebral palsy, it is important to
review and listen to recommendations from all team members. If appropriate to
the student, person-centered planning may be an appropriate course of action.
This allows the students ideas and aspirations to be considered when creating
their IEP. (Gargiulo, 2015) If the student is not capable of assisting in their
own educational plan a parent should be involved to give the team another angle
to consider. Gargiulo (2015) defines cerebral palsy as “Any one of several nonprogressive disorders of voluntary movement or
posture that are caused by damage to the developing brain that occurs before or
during birth or the first few years of life.” Depending on which type of
cerebral palsy the student has I would work towards the implementation of
appropriate assistive technology. Assistive technology has several levels from
low tech items such as special pencils or utensils to much more elaborate
systems such as those used for text to speech and PDAs. Gargiulo (2015) remarks
that repurposing equipment for special needs students typically occur because many
of the items are not solely created for use in special education applications.

            Seok, DaCosta and Bryant (2016)
defines an AT device as “any item, piece
of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially, off the shelf,
modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the
functional capabilities of children with disabilities (Assistive Technology Act
of 2004)” I would seek the teams’ guidance in selecting appropriate AT for
the student to maximize their educational experience while enhancing their way
of life. This type of AT does not include equipment such as Cochlear implants
which require surgical assistance. It was not until 1997 IDEA that the
reimplementation allowed the use of assistive technologies to be considered for
all students with disabilities. (Gargiulo, 2015)

Another aspect of creating an IEP for the student
would involve their level of ability for possible placement in inclusion
classrooms. I do not feel that simply having cerebral palsy or being in a
wheelchair should negate the chance of social interaction and development. This
is essential to the growth and transition for the student throughout their
school years and adult life. Self-contained classrooms which used to be known
as special education rooms are appropriate only for students who are not
capable of inclusion and should only be considered after assessment of the
student. It is our job as educators to give the students every chance possible
of social interactions and engaging learning environments while considering the
best interests of the student.

Seok, DaCosta and Bryant (2016) concluded that their
research was original as there is a lack of research to compare their finding
to. Their finding offers a guideline or model for successful implementation of
AT for children with disabilities and as such a hope for future educators
striving to improve the quality of education for their special education

Back and Looking Forward

            Having a niece with ASD and several
children with ADHD and behavioral problems, this class has given me a better
idea of what I was doing wrong so that I can help them learn to control their
problems through cueing and interactive activities. I have gained a better idea
of how to correct a problem through taking away a favorite thing while
reinforcing good behaviors that they are developing. I learned that I must not
only watch to see these changes, but to praise their efforts. This will be very
helpful in my future classrooms as I strive to keep a positive environment
instead of one based on negative reinforcements that can cause my other
students to falter.

            Textbook has given me new
information on many disabilities, allowing me to expand my knowledge base to
make appropriate decisions for my children and my future students. I have
learned that the environmental atmosphere of my classroom will affect the
students and that taking away temptations I can limit the amount of
distractions and improve the chances of engaging the students in a positive

            I will go into the future with a
firmer grasp of the issues surrounding special education, such as testing and
Assistive technologies and want to continue to stress the importance of changes
so that all students will have equal and fair opportunities regardless of their
level of disability. I feel that I am in a better place to implement changes so
that my students have proper assessments and to limit the mislabeling of
students that we are seeing today. Racial and cultural backgrounds should be
considered as they affect the students in different ways. Above all I want to
teach children and society that disability is not a disease that you can catch
and that these wonderful people deserve a chance. I have recommitted myself to
providing more positive feedback and reinforcements to help students change for
the better by learning to manage and control their disabilities.


M. A., & Sutherland, K. S. (2012). Effective Teachers for Students with
Emotional/Behavioral Disorders: Active Ingredients Leading to Positive Teacher
and Student Outcomes. Beyond Behavior, 22(1), 1-9.

Gargiulo, Richard M. (2015). Special Education
in Contemporary Society, An Introduction to Exceptionality, 5th ed.,
Los Angeles, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., (5th Edition), 131, 283,
302, 305

Seok, S., DaCosta, B., & Bryant, B.
(2016). Dimensions Underlying Assistive Technology (AT) Practices and Quality
of AT Outcomes from the Perspective of Special Education Professors. Journal
of Educational Technology Development & Exchange, 8(2),

Wolfberg, P., DeWitt, M., Young, G., &
Nguyen, T. (2015). Integrated Play Groups: Promoting Symbolic Play and Social
Engagement with Typical Peers in Children with ASD Across Settings. Journal
of Autism & Developmental Disorders, 45(3), 830-845.


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