13 Current Trends in Special Education

13 Trends SpecialEd

Education is always growing to include new research and new methods, helping to optimize the learning experience for each individual. A rapidly evolving field is Special Education.

As researchers discover more about how humans learn, they also reveal how those students with unique challenges can best be supported and nurtured within the education system, helping them to attain knowledge and skills that will aid them in living a rich life.

Here are thirteen current trends in Special Education that deserve your attention:



In order to stay current as an educator, one must constantly evolve. The same is true for the curricula and methodologies implemented. There is a revolution happening in the world of special education. Teachers must find out what works best for them, while incorporating new technologies and practices available.


Research-Based Practices

The use of current Research-Based Practices will help one grow as a teacher, while also providing the best chance for a child to grow academically. It is critical that educators implement researched tools, use practical adaptations of new strategies, and incorporation of multiple learning styles. The Florida Center for Reading Research is a source full of information about research based practices, as well as many current researched based activities. These activities can seamlessly be used in conjunction with current lessons.


Early Intervention

Years of analysis show that early experiences play a critical role in brain development. Proper application of Early Intervention Strategies can seriously impact children’s developmental and educational trajectory. Families and educators must work together to advocate for early academic services, which will greatly benefit children in need of support. In addition to the academic interest, early intervention is also a fiscally responsible option. Children who receive intervention early on in their lives will ultimately need fewer services, meaning monetary savings in the long run.



With crowdfunding, people are able to get small amounts of money from many individuals or organizations. Some people crowdfund for vacations, new cars, and starting businesses. If people can crowdfund for a trip to Paris, why shouldn’t educators use crowdfunding to help them out as well? Special Education teachers have an ever growing list of wants and needs for their classroom. With budget cuts all over America, some of these wish lists may be put on the back burner. Crowdfunding is a great way for parents, teachers, and the community to get involved. Visit this site for an example of crowdfunding for the classroom.



MTSS (Multi Tiered System of Support)

MTSS, also known as Response To Intervention (RTI) is a prevention, data, and teamwork-driven system that allows teachers to work within several platforms to shape the development of their students. MTSS relies heavily on current researched based activities and materials, while documenting progress through assessment. This intervention is implemented in the classroom, small group instruction, and individually. The California Department of Education is an amazing resource for MTSS, with comprehensive information and materials. Educators believe that the effective use of MTSS in Special Education will prepare students for both academic and real world success.  


Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology is any item, device, or software meant to assist differently abled students to improve functionality and quality of life. For example, Dragon Dictation is an app used to dictate. It can be used for individuals with decreased fine motor function, or even for students with writing anxiety. A great resource for all things in the Assistive Technology world is the Assistive Technology Industry Association. The ATIA has scheduled webinars, current research, and much more. The use of technology in and out of the classroom help students in the Special Education classroom, teachers, and even prospective teachers (especially those pursuing an online education degree).


Targeted Instruction

Targeted instruction is an approach to match the assessed needs of individual students, instead of a one size fits all approach. Teachers must analyze data, consider learning styles, group students based on similar need, customize plans, and set goals for every student. Targeted instruction fosters a learning environment that motivates the learner. When a student works harder, they tend to succeed.


Student Led Planning

Student Led Planning is when a child has a voice in his or her own education. They are allowed to not only attend, but actively participate in their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Student Led Planning is a vehicle for self-actualization of the child. It allows students to see themselves not as a label, but as an empowered individual. This teamwork approach also fosters a stronger relationship between the students, teachers, support staff, and families.


Classroom Integration

Classroom Integration, or Inclusion is an ideology of acceptance. Classroom Integration is an opportunity for differently abled students and mainstream students to work together in a regular education classroom. All students work on the same material, but differently abled students get needed modifications and services.  It is thought that all students benefit from an inclusive classroom. Everyone is working together toward their own individual goals, but also working together as a community on common goals. Students are truly able to appreciate one another’s diversity through integration.


LAMP(Language Acquisition through Motor Planning)

LAMP is a therapeutic approach to language acquisition. The therapy is based on motor and neurological learning principles. The main goal of LAMP is to help non-verbal students have a way to communicate. It encourages sensory activities, willingness to learn, and teamwork. Many of the people that receive LAMP Therapy are students on the Autism Spectrum. The Center for AAC & Autism is a great resource to not only learn more extensively about LAMP, but also to receive training and certification.  


School Choice Reform

Is a controversial topic in the education world. School Choice Reform is a movement that wants to give parents the power to choose which school their children attend. Meaning the address of students will not define a their educational opportunities. Another even more disputed aspect of this movement is Private School Choice. Some proponents feel that government vouchers should also pay for private school education, allowing a family to choose any public or private school that they wish. This is something that is especially growing in Special Education. Families would be able to choose schools based on available services, instead of their zip code.


Transition Planning

A transition plan is a section of a high school student’s Individualized Education Plan geared toward a seamless transition from high school to the real world. The plan has clearly outlined goals and expectations of the individual with respect to the student’s skills, needs, interests, and strengths. Transition Planning is important because it helps outline what is expected of the student in their final years of secondary school in an attempt to prevent dropout. It also enables students to have a clear plan for their future, whether it be further education, vocational training, or job readiness.


Gifted and Talented

Gifted and Talented students have increasingly becoming a part of the Special Education world. These students with remarkable abilities and IQs often underperform in the classroom, and in fact often cause disruptive environments for others. These students find themselves flailing the mainstream classroom because they are bored. They do not thrive in a typical classroom with repetitive information and activities. Enrichment groups, independent projects, online education courses, and other challenges are a good way to pique the interest of these learners. The National Association for Gifted Children is a wealth of information regarding gifted children. There are workshops for educators, a compilation of nationwide programs for students, resources for parents, and so much more.  


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