The term “Special Needs” used to define students affected by some kind of disability. Today its not the case anymore. “Special Needs” and the acronym “SEN” (Special Educational Needs), now broadly refers to a number of situations and conditions.
Under such umbrella term fall Physical and Sensory disabilities like visual impairment, hearing impairment and physical impairment. Moreover, learning and developmental disabilities such as Specific Learning Difficulties (SpLD), Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), and Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD). Also, Mental illnesses classified as a change in thinking, feeling and behavior that cause a dysfunction in student’s daily activities. It recently incorporated pupils with backgrounds and situations that may constitute an obstacle to learning, like a foreign culture/language, family violence and abuse, lower income and limited access to the same opportunities as the majority. But another class of students may be held under the definition of Special Educational Needs and these are “Gifted” children. This last category, due to their higher cognitive potential, aren’t usually considered as in need of help during the learning process.
On the other hand, exactly because of their higher potential, they need more attention than regular students otherwise they may risk to retreat from the learning process (due to it not being engaging enough) and by doing so, also from the social experience that comes with learning in a school.
That is why it is so important to understand how different countries are facing this challenge, what are the guidelines and how to develop new methods apt at creating learning programs with a more universal approach to foster inclusion. Traditional education has been tailored around the average student, yet, such an approach has been found out to leave behind some learners and not stimulate enough others.
It is time to not consider aur pupils an average anymore but to give equal dignity to all of them. Developing inclusive programs gives the chance to the whole class to participate, engage, learn, all while increasing the sensation of belonging to a supportive community thus increasing children’s well-being.
If you want to learn more on Special Educational Needs, please look up to our course on “SPECIAL NEEDS STUDENTS Practices and policies in the European context” to get more in depth knowledge on the subject, confront with teachers from other countries and professional paths, to contribute in the advancement of a European common framework and actualize the school of tomorrow!
Author: Giuseppe Perrotti – JUMP Trainer