Choosing a Special Education Program for Your Child

Finding the best type of education is a top priority for parents and guardians of special needs children. Along with the many other decisions you make when caring for your child, you must decide which type of special education will give your child the support and guidance he or she needs.

Special education programs are created to give students extra support and the specialized education that they need. Because each child is unique, schools work to create an education plan that best suits the student. Here are some common special education options that are traditionally offered in schools.

Inclusion Classrooms and Programs

Inclusion classrooms and programs are the least restrictive types of special education and allow students to be included in traditional classes with the help of a teacher or teacher’s aide. One form of inclusion program allows students to attend classes along with their peers for a portion of the day and then spend the rest of the day in a special education classroom.

Another type of program includes special needs children in all traditional classes throughout the day with the assistance of a teacher or teacher’s aide. Many students benefit greatly from both types of inclusion classroom environments, which provide the most interaction with other students as well as extra support and guidance.


Collaboration programs are meant to provide extra support for students, while allowing them to remain in traditional classrooms for a period of time. Students will be included in traditional classrooms for a few days a week. Students will also spend time receiving specialized help in special education classrooms or through one on one programs.

Collaboration programs are similar to inclusion programs, but provide greater support and structure. This type of program allows students to be included in subjects they excel in, while receiving a specialized education in other subject areas.

Resource Rooms

Another option many schools offer is a resource room. Resource rooms typically consist of small classes where teachers can give each student a greater amount of attention. Depending on the program and student’s needs, students may spend only a few hours in the resource room each day for additional help.

Self-Contained Classrooms

In a self-contained classroom, students will spend the entire day or the majority of the day in a special education classroom.  Self-contained classrooms provide students with the most attention and support. Normally, students who need the greatest amount of guidance and supervision are placed in this type of classroom.

Self-contained classrooms are sometimes offered through local public schools, but are also offered through private schools that specialize in special education.

Because each student learns differently, each type of special education program provides different benefits. The first step in selecting the best education program for your child is to discuss the different options with your school’s special education coordinator and your child’s doctors.  Once you know what options are available to your child, you will be able to choose the program that best fit your child’s needs.

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