Special Education spotlight

By Eve Eckler ’20

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Nick Luther and his girlfriend Kylie Korn

An intellectual disability is defined as “Below average intelligence and set of life skills present before age 18″. This does not mean every kid with an intellectual disability cannot read, write , or walk; it means certain people may struggle with particular parts of their everyday social and practical activities.

The test for an intellectual disability is usually just a regular IQ test. If the outcome of the test is below 75, that individual has a great chance of having an intellectual disability. If the outcome is from 20-35 that individual has a severe intellectual disability.

Many children all over the world are born with an intellectual disability. Since it is not an illness, there are no treatments therefore it cannot be cured, but progress can be made.

To help with intellectual functioning and adaptive behavior, support can be given from professionals, psychologists, social workers, nurses, doctors, speech and occupational therapists, teachers, and service coordinators.

This support may include an IEP (individualized education program), a special education classroom, therapy, one-on-one educational lessons, and having a professional aid. Each support plan is set up differently, everything relies on what that person struggles with and what they are capable of.

Having an IEP does not mean your personal capability and work ethic is smaller or any different than anyone else. Rodney Thompson was brave enough to speak about his learning disability. “I just want to work hard to impress my mom,” he said.

While having a job in special education may seem frustrating and aggravating, it also has the upside of working with unique and talented children.

There are many reasons as to why a person may choose to pursue a career in special education. For example, a person may have a family member or relative who was in a special ed. class. For Mrs. Lemieux, who has held multiple jobs for Ridley High School’s Special Education Department for 17 years, the reasoning and decision making was a tad bit more unique; “I wanted to work with students who learn differently.”

The patience, frustration, and time put into the lives of these kids may seem physically and emotionally tiring but seeing them reach their goals is worth it. Kim Eckler, a special education worker at CADES Preschool and George Crothers Memorial School admits her initial reaction to the first special ed. school she taught at; “I fell in love with the students and was inspired by the whole staff’s ingenuity and dedication to improve the quality of life for those kids.”

Every individual learns differently and should not be seen as anything less than anyone because of it.

About Eve Eckler

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