Children with special needs, also called “educationally challenged,” are often defined by their problems, which tend to focus parents’ and educators’ attention on what they can’t do. They may have developmental or learning disabilities, physical limitations, medical problems, communication difficulties, and/or behavioral issues. “At-risk students” are youngsters or young adults that may drop out because they are not experiencing success in school. Although they have educational needs not associated with a disability, they are often instructed along with special-needs kids, which may or may not be to one or both groups’ advantage.
Special education usually means “the teaching of students with special needs in a way that addresses their individual difficulties and differences.” It could include additional educational services such as differentiated teaching methodologies, use of custom-designed technology, an adapted learning area, and/or a resource room staffed by specialists. Attempts may be made to meet learners’ needs within mainstream classes (the “inclusion model”), in pull-out groups for part of the school day or week, or in separate classes or schools.
Some of the modifications typically offered to special-needs and/or at-risk students are: the omission of certain subjects or units deemed too difficult or unnecessary; simplified reading material written at a lower proficiency level; shorter assignments, tasks, and tests; availability of aids like word lists, hints, dictionaries, and answer keys; and/or extended time limits to complete tasks.
In addition to physical accommodations, other adaptations that may help are multi-media presentations (e.g., in aural or physical as well as visual and printed forms); creative use of media (recording, CDs/DVDs, computer features, animation, TV, etc.); opportunities for learners to “perform” in various modes (by gesturing, “dictating,” typing, or whatever works), and the like.
The creators of Authors & Editors have spent many years working with special-needs or at-risk youth—as well as thousands of “normal” students (like second-language learners) that just need a little extra. Not coincidentally, we have incorporated what we know, have used successfully, and are still thinking about into our materials, techniques, teacher-training, and always evolving ideas.
Authors & Editors' products most likely to appeal to and benefit special-needs students may or may not coincide with those useful for younger learners. Some examples of especially motivating materials that involve learners in cooperative or competitive activity every step of the way are: Alphabet Answers, Alphabet-LetterCards Aa to Zz, Alphabet-Letter Bingo/Lotto Tear-Off Pads, Alphabet-Letter Paired-Grids Tear-Off Pads; Picture This! Picture This, Too! Ways with Words, Homophones ; Phonics Bingo, Phonics & Spelling Puzzles, Initial Consonants, Rhyming Words, Vowel Sounds & Spellings; Symbol Card Decks; Verb Forms, Kinds of Nouns; Body Language, Open-Ended Questions for Social Conversation, Talking About Anything; English Through Citizenship: the Game, and the like.
In the Authors & Editors Online Store, items of probable interest to educators of special needs students may appear in various categories, especially Activity & Idea Books; Alphabet Letters & Symbols; Board Games; Cards or Card Decks; Classroom-Ready Materials; Phonics & Spelling; Reproducible Masters; Vocabulary, Focus on; and Word Level Skills. To find out if a product will work for your specific purposes, you can print out, reproduce, and try out one or more of its attached Try-Before-You-Buy Samples. Some of our no-cost Teaching Tools, Tips, & Techniques may work, too.
And don't hesitate to dialog with us about special needs through e-mail, blogging, bulletin boards, and other media--perhaps even in person. After all, you and we may have special needs, too.