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Special education basics

At a Glance: Who at School Works With Kids in Special Education

By Ginny Osewalt

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The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that parents and specialists work together to develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for kids who qualify for special education services. Here’s who might work with students in special education.

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At a Glance: Who at School Works With Kids in Special Education

The teacher is only one of many specialists who work with children eligible for special education services at school. Here’s who else is involved.

General Education Teacher
The general education teacher provides instruction in the general education classroom. If a child is struggling, she may refer him to the intervention team. They will try new methods to help with learning and attention issues.

Special Education Teacher
The special education teacher oversees a child’s IEP. She makes recommendations about learning strategies, teaching methods and accommodations. She can provide direct instruction using alternate teaching materials and assistive technology.
School Psychologist
The school psychologist often is the one who administers and scores psycho-educational tests. These determine how well your child functions academically, socially and developmentally. She may do classroom observations and design behavior intervention plans.

Social Worker

The social worker assesses a child’s social and emotional functioning and their effect on learning. She can also help with peer relationships and conflicts.
Speech and Language Therapist
The speech and language therapist administers and scores tests for speech and language issues. She can help a child produce proper speech sounds and improve his ability to understand and be understood.

Physical Therapist
The physical therapist works on motor skills. Gross motor skills include walking, running and catching a ball. Fine motor skills include tying shoes, handwriting and cutting with scissors.

Assistive Technology Specialist

The assistive technology specialist evaluates a child’s need for special devices, software and equipment to aid learning. She can provide technical assistance about how to use it.

Paraprofessional (or aide)
The paraprofessional (or aide) can assist the teacher with skill reinforcement and behavior management. She may work with individual children or small groups.
Graphic of Who at school works with kids in special education
Graphic of Who at school works with kids in special education

About the Author

Portrait of Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt

Ginny Osewalt is dually certified in elementary and special education with 14 years of experience in general education, inclusion, resource room and self-contained settings.

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