“Most people see what is, and never see what can be”
Special Needs Education
In 2016, official figures provided by the National Center for Education Statistics in relation to Special Needs education, indicated that 6,464,000 children and young people in the United States between the ages of 3 and 21 years old were being served under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, as a result of having some learning-related disability. This represents 13% of the total enrollment in public schools, pre-kindergarten through 12th grade.
Considering that this number only represents those actually formally diagnosed with a disability and being provided with assistance, those numbers are significant.
The National Insitute of Health also reported that the incidence of learning disabilities in the general population varied greatly suggesting those figures may be as great as 15% to 20%, with 51% of all the students enrolled in the nation’s special needs education programs are classified as learning disabled.
In addition to those statistics, official figures provided by the Dyslexia Research Institute reports that 10% – 15% of the US population has dyslexia, yet ONLY 5 out of every 100 dyslexics are recognized and receive assistance. Other statistics indicate that as many as 1 in 7 children and students of K-12 school age suffer from some form of Dyslexia. These figures are alarming to say the least.
What makes the situation even more frightenting is that our system of education is now over 250 years old, and still functions on a factory-style approach to mass-produce education. It is a system that might work effectively if each student was exactly the same. But they aren’t.
To compound the situation, the majority of those in education that work with these students lack of even the most basic knowledge, understanding or training about the various special needs. This can have dire consequences for the student themselves.
A classic example of the impact this can have on the student is Dyslexia where in it’s simplest form it is a situation where the student has difficulty recognizing and working with printed characters and shapes which usually impacts on their reading capability. Being given the opportunity to learn visually or aurally, provides a very simple solution for the student that naturally has problems reading and using text books.
The problem becomes much worse when neither the child’s teacher or parents recognize the signs of Dyslexia – or how to work with it. The child’s inability to read as proficiently as their peers often leads to accusations of laziness, disinterest or intransigence. 90% of people living with dyslexia are incredibly intelligent, bright individuals with the ability to learn and remember information much more effectively than other students. Yet when confronted by the negative reactions of those that do not understand their situation, it often leads to increasing frustration followed by a growing loss of self confidence, and gradually they lose that natural love of learning.
As a result of this lack of knowledge and understanding, we risk marginalizing significant numbers of of our student population despite that fact that each usually has their own unique natural skills and talents that are not immediately obvious. In other words, those special needs students do not meet the expectations of a system of mass-producing education, so they are moved aside and the natural abilities they do have are ignored.
Here at Zane, we have come to appreciate the word ‘disability’ is misleading – if not a description that it dysfunctional. Every child is an individual, with their own unique personality, skills and talents, learning style and particular educational needs. Just because one child is different to the next, it is incorrect to describe them as having a disability, then marginalize them and rob them of the opportunity to achieve their greatest individual potential.
Once again, nothing demonstrates this better than Dyslexia, a situation that is so misunderstood that usually the world of education gives more attention to the theoretical causes and diagnosis, than actually providing the simplest of solutions – visual learning.
This very limited approach to dealing with Dyslexia – and other special educational needs, often unreasonably results in a child being cast aside and robbed of their right to an effective, satisfying and fulfilling education.
It is the responsibility of us all to strive for better, starting with the realization that so often the child that appears to have a disability on the surface, is actually blessed with wonderful talents and abilities that we fail to see.
Zane is committed to innovating and developing special needs education solutions that provide those children and students living with what we intially perceive as disabilities, to enable them to have an education that provides identifies, highlights, develops and enhances those skills, talents and abilities they do have.
Zane also remains interested to participate in education partnerships and work with any education philanthropists that share our passion, aims and beliefs. We also provide our education consulting services to those involved in improving Special Needs education for students.
If you share our interest and passion for improving Special Needs Education, then please contact us using our Contact Page to arrange an introductory conversation.