Assistive Technology in Special Education


Using technology can support scholars with disabilities to advance and improve their individuality in academic and employment tasks. Technology also benefits their involvement in classroom debates, along with helping them to accomplish some tough academic responsibilities. This paper confers the role and benefits of using assistive technology in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), in academic skills, and in transition services. A summary of the significant principles that need to be considered in the integration of technology in educating or training students with disabilities is provided.


“The world of education is currently undergoing a massive transformation as a result of the digital revolution” (Collins & Halverson, 2009, p. 1). Because of this “digital revolution,” it is both vital and practical to make use of the availability and accessibility of technology in designing educational or training programs. Technology has the potential to contribute to a improved quality of life for students with intellectual disabilities, which is more than just a matter of convenience (Wehmeyer, Palmer, Smith, Davies, & Stock, 2008). The use of technology in education is foreseeable; it is only a matter of time before schools will fall behind unless they try to catch up. Students spend long hours of their day outside school using technology, so is it practical to expect them to come to school and find themselves in the world of no technology and feel attracted to this world. In addition to the factor of attractiveness, there is also the success of using technology, which has been proven through some studies. For instance, Patton and Roschelle (2008) argue that digital textbooks offer a better alternative than traditional textbooks because they can provide instant feedback, interactive representations, and the system of universal design for learning (UDL).

Continuing to deliver education and training in the traditional way and using the same tools that have been used for centuries is affecting these programs’ outcomes and making them fall far behind what the labor mark stresses. So, updating school programs with recent technological tools and devices for both students with and without disabilities has become essential.

It is very important to ensure that students with disabilities are prepared to meet the challenges of postsecondary settings (Stodden, Conway, & Chang, 2003); many technological tools could increase, as much as possible, the possibilities for students with disabilities to achieve these challenges with fewer difficulties. In many cases adjusting the right assistive technology for students with disabilities could save time and effort. Ignoring the existence of devices and tools that can help students with disabilities enable and maximize their educational and academic gains can also stop students from having opportunities to reach their maximum performance, or at least to make them more confident while undertaking some tasks that can be done easily using low-tech assistive technology.


Assistive technology is defined as “an item or piece of equipment or product system either acquired commercially, off the shelf, modified, or customized and used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capability for individual with disabilities” (Johnston, Beard, & Carpenter, 2007, p. 4). Special education teachers, especially in middle and high school, should be exposed to technological tools that can help students to bypass their academic weaknesses (Mull & Sitlington, 2003). Teachers will help students by training them to use portable and cheap tools that, in most cases, could make students live and behave more independently when they leave high school, which will increase their chances of maximizing their degree of achievement and independence, though it will still be behind their peers without disabilities (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996). For instance, training students to use a calculator can be more practical than beginning to teach middle and high school students basic math (like adding two numbers). Furthermore, if students can use the calculator but have difficulty saying numbers correctly, they can use more advanced tools, such as a talking calculator, which helps students to say numbers correctly and can be used whenever or wherever they need it (Lankutis, 2004).

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It is important to choose an appropriate and efficient device or tool, which does not necessarily have to be an expensive device designed just for educational purposes or for students with disabilities; Stodden et al. (2003) found that complex and expensive devices (e.g., high tech devices) have been used less and appeal to a smaller percentage of students compared to low tech devices. Sometimes it is much more effective to look within the normal, existing technology to find useful devices or software for students with disabilities than to just concentrate on finding a specific technology designed specifically for people with disabilities. For example, Skylar (2008) calculated the cost that can be saved by using an iPod Touch for students with disabilities to replace many devices such as 1) SMART Boards, which can cost 3,000 dollars even without the necessary computer, speakers, and scanner; 2) Kurzweil 3000 software (designed for readers who face difficulties, dyslexics, and students with attention disorders), which can cost around 500 dollars; 3) a laptop (capable of running Kurzweil 3000, calculators, electronic organizers, calendars, multiple alarms, and portable Internet access), which can cost from 800 to 2,500 dollars; 4) a flash drive data storage device, which can cost from 20 to 100 dollars.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Assistive technology is important for students with disabilities, but there are those who say the system as a whole, should be supported for all students, and this system or framework is referred to as Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (Wehmeyer, 2006). Also, the challenge that students with disabilities face in the context of inclusive education is the single-faceted presentation of the general education curriculum, which leads us again to think of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a solution to meet this challenge (Ludlow & Fosha, 2007).

The official definition of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) by the Higher Education Opportunity Act is as follows: A scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice that (A) provides flexibility in the ways information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and skills, and in the ways students are engaged; and (B) reduces barriers in instruction, provides appropriate accommodations, supports, and challenges, and maintains high achievement expectations for all students, including students with disabilities and students who are limited English proficient. (Higher Education Opportunity Act, 2008, 4137—11)

Examples of Accessible Technologies

Burgstahler (2003) pointed out three examples of accessible electronic and information technology and how it can be beneficial for students with disabilities in educational settings, based on the concept of universal design: 1) Accessible web pages such as those that allow students with low reading skills to access information and communicate with others; 2) Accessible instructional software, such as programs that allow students to work side-by-side and collaborate with their peers to complete assignments in the classroom; 3) Accessible telephones that make communication accessible to everyone, whatever their disabilities.

Assistive Technology for Academic Skills

Technology could play an important and significant role, in many cases, in helping students with disabilities overcome the academic difficulties that they face and helping them to advance their academic skills as well. Cullen, Richards, and Frank (2008) conducted a study to determine whether computer software would help students with disabilities improve their performance in writing. A multiple baseline design was used to study seven fifth grade students with mild disabilities in three phases: baseline, intervention using a talking word processor, and intervention using word prediction software in conjunction with a talking word processor. In the first week (Baseline) students handwrote all writing samples with no accommodations; in the next three weeks (Intervention one) Students used Write:Outloud, a talking word processor for all writing samples; in the last three weeks (Intervention two) students used Co:Writer, a word prediction software, in conjunction with Write:Outloud for all writing samples. The results displayed that five students out of seven in the study improved the number of words produced in the two intervention phases, while the number of words produced decreased with the other two students in both intervention phases compared with the baseline phase. The group mean showed that there was an improvement in the number of words produced. There were improvements in the number of misspelled words across phases, both individually and in the group mean. Overall, the results showed that the impact on most of the seven students was positive.

Another example of the important role that technology can play in helping students to overcome their difficulties with academic skills can be found in the study conducted by Bouck, Doughty, Flanagan, Szwed, and Bassette (2010) to examine how effective a pentop computer (a FLYPen) and the writing software (specifically designed for the FLYPen) was in assisting students with disabilities in writing. This tool “resembles a typical pen, larger in size and includes a slot at the top where a software cartridge is inserted. When using special paper created for the FLYPen, the pentop computer produces voice output to provide directions, prompts, reinforcement, and hints to students for various activities” (p. 36). In this study, three high school students were chosen based on the following criteria: 1) high school students receiving special education services between 15 and 18 years old; 2) students with a mild intellectual disability or learning disability; 3) students having difficulty in written expression; 4) students who had received special education services since early elementary school. The results presented that all students experienced initial gains in the quality of written expression while using the FLYPen. They determined that technology-enhanced procedural facilitators not only can benefit the quality and quantity of written expression in students with mild disabilities, but it can also improve students ability to plan their writing and help them complete these tasks more independently.


It is crucial that teachers are exposed to and have knowledge of the available technologies that could support students in their academic tasks (Raskind, 1994). Logically, teachers who do not realize and have not been exposed to the usefulness and applications of technology in education in general, and special education specifically, will be more reluctant to use them. It is therefore important that technology is included in preparation programs for special education teachers; in these programs, technology should be used as part of the preparatory program for teachers and cover technical applications at the classroom level. In this way, special education teachers will have the knowledge and experience in using technology that will contribute to the widespread of the use of technology in special education programs.


In conclusion, technology has changed and continues to change the way people achieve things in their lives, both in private and in practical life, so the natural extension of that is to see the impact and the integration of technology in education for students with disabilities in the same way it has been in other areas of life. Using technology can help students with disabilities to enhance and improve their independence in academic and employment tasks and their participation in classroom discussions, along with helping them to accomplish some difficult academic tasks (Burgstahler, 2003).

There are a few points that summarize the important principles that should be considered in the integration of technology in educating or training students with disabilities: 1) low tech tools should be the first option when looking for assistive technology that will help promote students’ learning (Johnston et al., 2007); 2) educators must search among the available tools and devices first before looking for tools that were specially made for educational purposes, which could be very costly (Skylar, 2008); 3) the most expensive tools or devices are not always the best choice, which will be determined based on the student’s needs and prior skills ; 4) small adjustments to existing technologies, often, will make a difference for students with disabilities (Johnston et al., 2007); for example, the highlight and enlarge functions, and programs that color important words in the text or buttons on websites will be helpful (Mclnerney et al., 1999).


Blackorby, J., & Wagner, M. (1996). Longitudinal postschool outcomes of youth with disabilities: Findings from the National Longitudinal Transition Study. Exceptional Children, 62, 399-413.

Bouck, E. C., Doughty, T. T., Flanagan, S. M., Szwed, K., & Bassette, L. (2010). Is the pen mightier? Using pentop computers to improve secondary students’ writing. Journal of Special Education Technology, 25, 33-47.

Burgstahler, S. (2003).The role of technology in preparing youth with disabilities for postsecondary education and employment. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18, 7-19.

Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology: The digital revolution and the schools. New York, NY: Teachers College Press. Retrieved from

Cullen, J., Richards, S. B., & Frank, C. (2008). Using software to enhance the writing skills of students with special needs. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23, 33-44.

Higher Education Opportunity Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq. (2008). Retrieved from

Johnston, L., Beard, L. A., & Carpenter, L. B. (2007). Assistive technology: Access for all students. Columbus, OH: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

Lankutis, T. (2004). Special needs technologies: An administrator’s guide. Technology & Learning, 25, 30-35.

Ludlow, B. L., & Fosha, J. D. (2007). Critical technology issues for school leaders/the universally designed classroom: Accessible curriculum and digital technologies. Journal of Special Education Technology, 22, 60-62.

McInerney, M., Riley, K., & Osher, D. (1999). Technology to support literacy strategies for students who are deaf. Final report. Washington, DC: American Institutes for Research. Retrieved from

Mull, C. A., & Sitlington, P. L. (2003). The role of technology in the transition to postsecondary education of students with learning disabilities: A review of the literature. Journal of Special Education, 37, 26-32.

Patton, C. M., & Roschelle, J. (2008, May 7). Why the best math curriculum won’t be a textbook. Education Week, pp. 24-32.

Raskind, M. H. (1994). Assistive technology for adults with learning disabilities: A rationale for use. In P. J. Gerber & H. B. Reiff (Eds.), Learning disabilities in adulthood: Persisting problems and evolving issues (pp. 152-162). Stoneham, MA: Andover Medical.

Skylar, A. A. (2008). iPod “teach”: Increased access to technological learning supports through the use of the iPod Touch. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23, 45-49.

Stodden, R. A., Conway, M. A., & Chang, K. T. (2003). Findings from the study of transition, technology and postsecondary supports for youth with disabilities: Implications for secondary school educators. Journal of Special Education Technology, 18, 29-43.

Wehmeyer, M. L. (2006). Universal design for learning, access to the general education curriculum and students with mild mental retardation. Exceptionality, 14, 225-235.

Wehmeyer, M. L., Palmer, S. B., Smith, S. J., Davies, D. K., & Stock, S. (2008). The efficacy of technology use by people with intellectual disability: A single-subject design meta-analysis. Journal of Special Education Technology, 23, 21-30.


Importance of Inclusion in Special Education

To understand the importance of special education and the changes that have led to the inclusionary practices we now uphold, it is important to understand the views that society held about people with disabilities and special needs and the journey from exclusion to inclusion. There is historical evidence that special education services have been around since the 18th century. Unfortunately, the perspective and attitudes held towards people with special needs during that time were cruel and dismissive (Winzer, 2009, p.2). Having a “disability was not an innocuous boundary but rather it was a liability in social and economic participation (Winzer, 2009, p.2), thus, leading to an inability to participate in public life, i.e., education, marriage, work, etc. Thus, those with disabilities were often shunned and excluded from public life. This concept of isolation and segregation is further demonstrated via Dr. Helen Murphy, “Inspector of the Feeble Minded”. During the 1910s, Dr. Murphy believed that the “feeble-minded” were a menace to society and were the cause of a variety of social problems such as, unemployment and prostitution (Edmunds, 2018, p.13). This belief led her to create “auxiliary classes”, also considered special education classes, in clearing houses. These classes and clearing houses were designed to identify and train the feeble-minded to ensure that they were segregated from society and could not reproduce to pass on the “feeble minded” gene (Edmunds, 2018, p.13). It was not until the emergence of human rights issues in the 1960’s that the modern era of special education truly began (Edmunds, 2018, p.13). Over the next forty years, society would come to see the slow shift from exclusion and segregation, to integration and overall inclusion of students with special needs.

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 It was during the modern era of special education that both Canada and the United States released legislative acts to ensure the rights and equal education for people with disabilities. The most prominent legislative acts released in the U.S. include: The Education for All Handicapped Children Act released in 1975.  This act revolutionized education with the implementation of individualized instruction and individualized education plans (IEP) to allow students with disabilities to be integrated into the school system (Edmunds, 2018, p. 14). The No Child Left Behind Act, released in 2001, aimed to improve the academic success of not only students with severe disabilities but included students with learning and behavioral disabilities (Edmunds, 2018, p. 15). This was an important step in special education as institutions were finally recognizing the severity, importance and prominence that learning and behavioral deficits had on student success. In Canada, educational freedoms and equality were founded under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Edmunds, 2018, p. 18). Under Section 15 of the Charter it states that:

“Every individual is equal before and under the law and has a right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination, and in particular without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability” [s. 15 (1)].

This means that when determining a child’s educational program the best interest of the individual child must be considered (Edmunds, 2018, p. 18). Thus, we can see that major steps have been taken to ensure the rights and equality of education for all. Now we must consider the specific philosophies and practices that have been put in place within educational institutions to ensure equal education.

 Integration, mainstreaming, and inclusion, demonstrate specific movements and practices that have emerged within special education. Integration, mainstreaming and inclusion are educational practices that in their essence all seek to improve the educational quality of students with special needs. Although, the three practices have a similar overarching goal, the practices connect and differ from each other in many ways. To understand the similarities and differences between the three practices we will begin with a definition and basic explanation of each.

Integration was the first of the movements and practices that came about within the 1970s (Mainstreaming, Integration and Inclusion, 2018). During this time, public schools were mandated to create spaces for students with disabilities so that they could socialized with non-disabled peers (Rodriguez & Garro-Gil, 2015, p. 1324). Within these spaces, there were special education classrooms, regular classrooms and alternative programs (Rodriguez & Garro-Gil, 2015, p. 1324). Thus, integration sought to reintegrate students with exceptionalities back into the regular classroom, if possible (Edmunds, 2018, p.27). Mainstreaming emerged in the 1980s and is defined as “the selective placement of students with exceptionalities in regular classrooms on a part time basis where possible” (Edmunds, 2018, p. 27).   This ensured that students with exceptionalities are had their academic needs met with alternative programs while still being able to participate in the regular classroom with their school aged peers (Bright Hub Inc., 2016). Thus, mainstreaming is based on the idea that a student with special needs would benefit both academically and socially from being in a regular classroom. This would allow a mainstreamed student to have his or her physical, social and instructional needs met in the least restrictive environment, while their academic learning and progress was entrusted to an alternate program outside of the regular classroom (Bright Hub Inc., 2016).

Mainstreaming and Inclusion are often used interchangeably but are in fact two very different movements and practices. These differences stem from an understanding in why a student with special needs should join a general education classroom. Again, mainstreaming is based on the idea that a student with special needs would benefit both socially and academically from participating in a regular classroom. Therefore, students may have some modification and accommodations in instruction and assessment but for the most part learns the same material in the same manner as the rest of his or her peers (Bright Hub Inc., 2016). It is important to note that mainstreaming focuses on academic gains within a regular classroom. On the other hand, inclusion, which emerged in the 1990s, focuses on merging special education and regular education into a unified education system (Mainstreaming, Integration and Inclusion, 2018). Inclusion is based on the idea that students with special needs should not be segregated in the classroom and instead should be provided with the appropriate accommodations and modifications for their success (Bright Hub Inc., 2016). Unlike, mainstreaming, an inclusion practice focuses on the development of both social and academic skills within the means of the student. Thus, there is less emphasis on level-appropriate academic progress and more on the individual learning needs of the students. An important thing to note is that inclusion does not mean that all students need to be in a regular classroom, it means that all students are provided with the appropriate programming in the most appropriate educational environment whether that is in a regular classroom, a special education or alternative school program (Edmunds, 2018, p. 27).

Although, all three practices focus on improving the quality of education for students with exceptionalities, inclusion is thought to be the best philosophical approach to date in educating students with exceptionalities (Edmunds, 2018, p. 27). Unlike, other philosophies, inclusion seeks to change the system of education to suit the needs of individual students rather than “fix” students with exceptionalities (Edmunds, 2018, p. 27). Inclusion is an overarching philosophy that advocates first for education within a regular classroom and does not necessarily offer specific implementation methods (Edmunds, 2018, p. 27). Thus, it can be said that both mainstreaming and integration act as implementations that support the system of inclusion practices. For instance, integration practices can be used within inclusion to help a student re-enter a classroom. For students with exceptionalities, behavioral or learning differences, it is common for them to participate in alternate programs outside of a regular classroom. Thus, integration allows students to slowly enter or re-enter into a regular classroom at their own pace. For instance, a student with autism may spend most of his academic school day in a resource room and for certain activities and socialization may join a regular classroom for a certain amount of time during the school day. Mainstreaming can be used in an inclusive context by allowing students with exceptionalities to participate in a regular classroom with the appropriate adaptations and modifications. For instance, a student with difficulties in written examinations may be given the accommodation to take his or her exam orally. Thus, the student is still participating in regular classroom routines with a specific adaptation or modification to help them succeed in their academics.

Thus, we can see that inclusion is a philosophy that encompasses a wide variety or practices. Inclusion seeks to ensure that all students are given the right tools and environment to succeed and achieve his or her own learning or social goals so that individuals can be active and contributing participants within society. This is largely different from the initial perspectives of individuals with exceptional needs. In moving from a view of exclusion to inclusion we begin to understand the importance and value that all people have within society. This value is further translated into our special education system via inclusionary practices.


Edmunds, A., Edmunds. (2018). Special Education in Canada, Third Edition. Don Mills, Ontario: Oxford University Press.

Mainstreaming, Integration and Inclusion. (2018). Retrieved from

Bright Hub Inc. Mainstreaming vs. Inclusion in Special Education: What’s the Difference?. (2016). Retrieved from

Rodriguez, C., & Garro-Gil, N. (2015). Inclusion and Integration on Special Education. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 191, 1323-1327. doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.04.488

Winzer, M. (2009). From Integration to Inclusion: A History of Special Education in the 20th Century. Washington: Gallaudet University Press.


Special Economic Zones in India

India was one of the first in Asia to recognize the effectiveness of the Export Processing Zone (EPZ). The chief drawbacks of EPZ were multiplicity of controls and clearance, absence of world class infrastructure and instable fiscal regime. The Special Economic Zone Policy (SEZs) was announced in 2000 and it tried to look into the drawbacks of the EPZ policy.
SEZs are engine for economic growth supported by quality infrastructure, attractive fiscal package and minimum possible regulations. The main objectives of the policy are:

Generation of additional economic activity
Promotion of exports of goods and services
Promotion of investment from domestic and foreign sources
Creation of employment opportunities
Development of infrastructure facilities.

The SEZ rules provide for

Simplified procedures for development, operation and maintenance of the SEZs and for setting up units and conducting business in SEZs
Single window clearance for setting up an SEZ
Single window clearance for setting up a unit in a SEZ
Single window clearance on matters relating to central as well as state Governments
Simplified compliance procedures and documentation with an emphasis on self certification.

Incentives and Facilities Offered to the SEZs:

Duty free import/domestic procurement of goods development, operation and maintenance of SEZ units.
100% income tax exemption an export income for SEZ units for the first 5 years, 50% for the next 5 years thereafter, and 50% of the ploughed back export profit for the next five years.
Exemption from minimum alternate tax, central sales tax and service tax.
External commercial ______ by SEZ units up to US $ 500 million in a year without any maturity restriction through recognised banning channels.
Single window clearance for central and state level approvals.

Major Incentives and Facilities available to SEZ developers include:

Exemption from customs/excise duties for development of SEZs for authorised operations approved by Board of Approval (BOA)
Income tax exemption on export income for a block of 10 years in 15 years
Exemption from minimum alternate tax, dividend distributors tax, Central Sales Tax and Service Tax.

The SEZs trigger a large flow of foreign and domestic investment, resource utilisation and generate additional economic activity.
Newly Industrialising Countries
Newly Industrialising Countries (NICs) are those industries whose economics have not yet reached first world status but are more developed than their developing counter parts. The other characteristics of NIC’s is rapid economic growth (usually export oriented), optimal resource utilisation, rapid pace of industrialisation and a pool of labourers. Hongkong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan rose to global prominence with rapid industrial growth since 1960’s. This was possible with optimal resource utilisation. These countries can be considered as first generation of NIC’s. Organisation of or Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and __ have helped in the development of NIC’s. NIC’s usually benefit from comparatively low labour costs and larger market. Currently the following countries are considered as NIC’s China, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand (Asia) South Africa (Africa); Mexico (North America) Brazil (South America) and Turkey (Europe).
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development
The organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (DECD) is an international organisation of thirty countries that accept the principles of representative democracy and free market economy. It originated in 1948 as Organisation for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC) and was reformed into organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1961.
The OECD covers all economic, environmental and social issues. It identifies common problems and good practice and coordinates domestic and international policies. The organisation collects data, monitors trends and forecasts economic developments. It also analysis the patterns in trade, environment, agriculture, technology, taxation and other areas the secretariat of OCED looks into entrepreneurship, fax policy, employment, labour, trade, agriculture, financial and enterprise affairs etc. The organisation further looks into the development of nuclear and energy resources. Most of the countries of Europe are part of it – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, United Kingdom etc. Besides it Japan and South Korea (Asia) and united states of America and Canada are also a member of OCED.
The Group of Eight (G8) is an international forum for the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, United Kingdom and United states. The concept of the forum for the world industrialised democracies emerged after the 1973 oil crisis and subsequent global recession. The G8 countries discuss the topics of labour, economic and social development, energy, environment, trade etc. The forum discusses the global issues in an informal manner.
New Post W W II trends in Industrial Resource
The post world II period observed many changes in the utilisation of resources for industrial development. Some of the following trends were observed:

De industrialisation and restructuration as a result of changing industrial policies of linearization and globalisation.
The phase of deindustrialisation and restructuration was followed by the renewed programmes and changes in location and structure of plants was observed. The plants were reallocated and many multi functional companies became more functional.
The structure of industries shifted from fordism to Neo-fordism & post fordism.
The lower order industrial regions termed as dusters and complexes came into existence.

These phenomena are the phase of rejuvenations in manufacturing systems. These are a result of newer innovations and technologies. Thus, the resource are utilised in a more appropriate manner. The improvements in means of transport and communication has encouraged the process of industrialisation. Further, the rational and planned formulative policy for manufacturing give rise to inter-national companies (MNC’s). The location and reallocation of resources and industries have created decongestion of industries and thus lower order clusters and complexes have come up in existence. These are well equipped with newer technologies. OCED’s , NIC’s, G8, BRICS, SEZ’s have accelerated the process of resource allocation.
Thus, the combination of spatial dispersal and global integration has created new centres as

Highly concentred command points in the organisation of the world economy
Key locations for finance and for specialised service firms
Sites of production, including the production of innovation in these leading industries and
Markets for the products and innovations produced.

High Tech Manufacturing Development Foci:
A number of specialised high technology centres (also termed as footloose industries) have developed in the world. These units are largely located nearer to universities and research institutions. Silicon Valley in California near Stanford Unweisily and ‘Boston Route 128’ near Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are one of the centres which have developed Many IT industries like IBM are engaged in research around here. Subsequently, the research and industry partnership hubs have developed all over the world-many countries of Europe, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, India etc. Foot loose industries are highly flexible and are largely dependent on highly literate young entrepreneurs, with little cash and space. The high tech industries are functionally discrete by nature and look into design, development and fabrication.
The re-industrialisation restructures the national and economic landscape and there is a development of three lower order industrial developments.

Industrial districts at a comparatively higher spatio functional level
Flexible specialisation at international level
_____ at local level.

Utilisation of resources underwent a transformation with a change in the approach of establishment of industries and subsequently utilisation of resources. Neo-fordism evolved for the continently of fordist, labour process but post fordism stressed complete break.
Global Industrialisation & Related Problems:
Globally, differential development of industries is observed. Thus, differences in utilisation is also observed imbalances are visible in developing and developed regions of the world. Different issues are observed in developed and developing countries. Some industrial products whose demands have been increasing since Industrial Revolution might now experience a decrease in demand. The growth rates are either stagnant or have decreased in the already developed regions which these rates have accelerated in the developing countries.
Since mid 1970’s the demand for many consumer goods have established in Developed countries because of the changes observed in population growth rate has become negligible. Besides, world recession, average personnel disposable income, changing technology, increased durability of the products are some of the factors responsible for the decrease in demands for industrial products in mid 1990’s.
Although, the demand for goods declined in 1990’s but on the other hand, worldwide capacity has increased because of the following factors:

The diffusion of industrial revolution and basic level of technology for commonly demanded items such as textiles, iron and steel, automobile, etc from developed to the less developed world.
Increased output capacity by developed nations as a resuet of technological inventions and innovations and change in the structure of resource utilisation.
The shifts of hubs of industries. The early concentration (followed by Industrial Revolution) was in UK in 19th century followed by USA, USSR; Germany and Japan. China, Mexico and Indonesia followed the above countries and the industrial production increased. In the 21st century many Asian countries (Newly Industrialising countries), South Africa (BRICS), Taiwan, Singapore and.

Industrialisation plays an important role in national economy:

Through industrialisation the country sustains itself and provides indigenous goods and products. Thus also helps in improving the economy of the nation.
The process of industrialisation helps in promoting the development of essential infrastructure of a region. Thus, the process of industrialisation helps in developing the various pockets of the country.
As the process of industrialisation proceeds various under-developed pockets also are benefitted as the diversification of industrialisation becomes more and more strong.
The employment opportunities are generated. Thus, helps in improving the economy of the country.
The resource exploration is done as per the needs and over exploitation can be avoided. On the other hand, industries can be developed in the resource endowed regions.

Industrial Problems in Developed Countries:
The largest challenge which the developed countries face is of change in structure of production – from fordism to neo fordism and post fordism, enhanced cost of labour, decline in the market with new market areas developing and procurement of resources.

Earlier the industrialised grants of the world relied on international market for their products as well as they procured the resources globally 20th century witnessed the development of industries in many other parts of the world. The competition of markets has led to the grouping of countries. Such as European Common Market (ECM) Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Etc. These grouping helped in reducing trade barriers and the hubs of industrial regions are adversely affected.
The countries which industrialised early, immediately in the post industrial revolution era because of the advancement in innovations and technology procured the raw material from the countries which were devoid of it from late 19th century and beginning of 20th century these countries started developing industries in their own parts. Thus, the already existing industrial hubs suffered from the availability of resources.
The early industrialised countries suffered a setback of accelerating cost of labour. This was largely because of the low population availability. This promoted the change in structure of industries. Multinational companies came in instead of integrated industries. The multinational corporations helped in deindustrialisation and reindustrialisation. This helped in the development of new regions and few aheady industrialisation regions suffered a setback.

Industrial Problems in Developing Countries:
The problems of the developing are largely related to the availability of capital, latest technology, adequate infrastructure and proper management skills. These countries have entered the production late and are still in the infancy stage.

Largely the developing countries are in there infancy stage and thus are facing problems of technological advancement and Automations and application of upgraded technology is essential for the increase in the production.
The developing countries are not well equipped with trained managers, professionals and other supporting staff. This restricts the optimum utilisation of resources.
Lack of basic infrastructure and amenities is another major constraint of the developing countries.
Many developing countries are accelerating the process of industrialisation and ignoring the proper controls towards environmental protection which can harm human ecology.

Industrial Problems in under developed Countries:
Capital scarcity, poor labour asset, lack of latest technology and automation political instability economic recession and under developed infrastructure are some of the problems faced by under developed countries.

Including both Regular Educational Students and Special Educational Students in Inclusive Classrooms

Including both Regular Educational Students and Special Educational Students in inclusive classrooms to Promote Academic and Social Success


 Students interacting with each other and feeling as if they are part of the group builds positive learning environments for children to grow academically and develop maturity. Children learning how to accept each other, learn with each other, and get along with each other is a crucial part of the academic process. Albers Elementary School is a small school in Ohio. There are 20 regular education classrooms, and one special education classroom that has five teachers in the room. The fourth grade students identified with disabilities in reading, writing, and math can’t fit in the corner of a special education classroom. But why should they have to? The regular classrooms are large enough to contain all students.

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 Structure and stability among students with disabilities is essential for student growth. Visual “hooks” and classroom visual aids could also impact learning for these students (Swanson, 2005). Could inclusion, a process of teaching students with disabilities in the regular education classroom, be the answer? Maybe children with special needs could learn from typical peers they share a classroom with, or be engaged with the students in the regular education classroom, and both could benefit from interactions with each other.

 There are many benefits of an inclusive classroom. The benefits could include academic success and social growth. “Special-needs students in the regular education classrooms do better academically and socially than comparable students in non-inclusive classes/resource rooms” (McCarty, 2006). Students with disabilities in the regular education classroom will become part of the classroom’s community, observe peer role models, and acquire communication and motor skills within a regular education setting (Wilson-Younger, 2009). The amount of time spent in the regular education classroom can vary depending on the student’s educational needs. There are different levels of classroom inclusion. The students do not need to follow an “all in” or “all pullout” situation. Instructional decisions and strategies can be differentiated, depending on the academic needs of the students.

 Pulling students out of the classroom is not always a negative concept for the student. It can be beneficial for some students too. One positive is when the instruction needs to be modified to meet an individual student’s educational needs (Woodward, 2009). However, it is noted that this is most effective in a quiet educational setting. Sharing a special educational classroom with five fellow teachers would not be a quiet educational setting for the students. Pulling students out of the regular educational classroom may also be justified if a regular educational classroom teacher has a negative attitude towards including students with disabilities in their room, or if there is lack of training to the regular classroom teachers (Wilson-Younger, 2009).

 Teachers and students are like cowboys and cattle on a ranch. Teachers represent the cowboys, and students represent the cattle. Teachers take care of their cattle by keeping them herded together and not allowing any cattle to wander away. Teachers brand their students by leaving a permanent educational marks on them that can last a student’s entire life. Teachers are dedicated and stay with their students throughout their entire school year. Teachers worry about their students, and try to protect them from any harm they may encounter. It’s the teacher’s job to ensure each student reaches the market (goal)! Just like working on a farm, a teacher’s job has been around for years; it’s the how a teacher’s job gets accomplished that has changed over the years.

Theoretical Frameworks

 An inclusion educational setting would work with the use of a student-centered design. Students are able to actively participate in learning activities that are based on their lives, educational needs, and interests (Ornstein, p.197). The student’s teacher can provide their class opportunities to explore physical, social, emotional, and logical knowledge. A special education student, regardless of what their disability is, could become involved with regular education students based on what they are interested in and what previous knowledge the students have attained.

 A student-centered design could incorporate the ideas necessary for all student success in an inclusion educational setting. One should consider this approach by looking at the philosophical approach of progressivism. Progressivism encourages student cooperation and democracy. This would allow students to talk about what they are learning and how they feel would be the best strategies for them to learn. The teacher would then become the “leader of group activities” (Ornstein, p. 47). Considering this approach, students with disabilities could benefit from making the content interesting and relevant to their educational needs. Dewey expressed the importance of real-life tasks and challenges. With this in mind, the teacher could teach math lessons by figuring out how long it would take to get from one place to another, or by learning capacity by following a recipe. Ideally, students with low academic ability would be paired or grouped with students of average academic ability. This type of cooperative learning group has proven to be the most effective for the low achieving students. An inclusive educational classroom could allow special education students with disabilities to interact with regular education students. In the end this could encourage peer learning in a regular educational setting.

 Along with progressivism, the psychological approach of constructivism can be very valuable. The students can become actively involved in the educational processes of thinking and learning. The student will be the key player and internalize information being taught. As learners begin to understand more, they bring a world of knowledge into their cognitive process. Progressivism and constructivism promote active learning in the educational setting. The central idea around this theory is to make sure students are engaged and conscious of learning environments. (Ornstein, p.129) This could ensure that all students, regardless of ability or educational setting, will be successful.

 To aid in the students philosophical approach and psychological approach, one must consider using Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to ensure student success in inclusive educational setting (Ornstein, p.126). Students within the inclusive educational classroom can have various disabilities and learn in different ways. The regular educational teacher could identify how each child learns best and then be sure to use strategies that include the strengths of the students. Using these intelligences will also allow the students to move around the classroom and conduct hands-on activities in inclusive educational setting. Using multiple intelligences combined with the ideas of progressivism and constructivism would benefit students with disabilities that are active learners in the inclusive educational setting.

 An inclusive setting for students with disabilities would also benefit the typical students in the classroom. With regard to social education, the teacher could teach the students how to interact and get along with each other in spite of their educational differences. Patience, collaboration, and finding strengths within each student would teach them how to learn about respect, dignity, integrity, and compassion/understanding for others in the classroom. Pulling special education students out of the inclusive educational classroom and “hiding” them all day in a self contained resource room does not allow the disabled students to feel like they have anything to offer. It makes the special education students want to hide their differences, and impedes on their sense of self worth. Working with all people and getting along with other despite differences to reach a common goal will prepare all students for situations they will be faced with throughout their life. This again holds true with the philosophy of progressivism. Progressive curricularists emphasize the social processes (Ornstein, p.91).

Additional Research

 Research has also proven academic and social success in all students who are in an inclusion setting. In one study, researchers studied students and staff from a magnet school in the expressive arts in Florida. A regular classroom teacher and a special education teacher worked together to teach all the students in the inclusive classroom, regardless of ability. The findings proved that with regard to academic achievement, all of the special education students showed improvements in reading, and all special education students showed improvement in math – except one. All but one regular education students made gains in reading, and 8 out of 10 made gains in math. It was also noted that social skills in all students showed strong gains. The teachers expressed learning from each other, such as ways to differentiate instruction and implement accommodations, was very beneficial to the students. Both teachers reported feeling as though they had a “better understanding of the scope and sequence of the general education curriculum and methods for problem solving” (Nevin,, 2008). The co-teachers were able to ensure extra time and help for students with disabilities, but at the same time, stay with the regular education students so they didn’t get left behind.

 Research has also indicated that pulling special education students out of the regular classroom can lead to disconnected instruction and wasted time traveling (Vaughn, 1996). The isolation of a pull-out/resource room classroom can help students forming appropriate social relationships with their non-disabled peers. This prevents students from “becoming dependent on their parents for social opportunities, recreation, and occupation” (Smoot, 2004). Lipsky (2005) also reminds educators that the separate special education classrooms has led to disturbing outcomes, such as “high dropout rates, high unemployment rates, and lack of integration into the community.” Much research has also highlighted the importance of professional development for classroom teachers who teach special education students (Zarghami, 2004).

Needs Analysis

 My observations were conducted in the different inclusive and special educatgion classrooms that I have worked in, due to the lack of space in the special education classroom. The students I serviced were fourth grade students with disabilities in reading, writing, and math. Most classes included twenty students ranging in disabilities and academic levels. Seven of the student were on an IEP, which means the special education teacher needs to modify/accommodate each child’s needs. There were no visual aids for the students to view, unless the teacher brought them along. The students had five laptops to share. The students were scattered around the room or worked in groups most of the time.

 During my time of observation, I observed that many students were mildly below average with regard to academic ability. Only a few were more severe with regard to academic needs and ability. Students worked well in groups, which were usually led by the regular education teacher and special education teacher. Students were familiar with the routines established by the teachers. The students were accepting of each other and felt free to share ideas and discuss concepts. The students felt as though they could answer questions or discuss ideas without fear of others making fun of them or penalizing them for a wrong answer. The atmosphere in the inclusive classroom was very warm and open for all students to engage.

 Many of the lessons followed a structure as well. The students were introduced to an idea as an entire group, and then practice was given with the opportunity to ask questions. After this, students were split up for additional practice. The teachers walked around asking questions, providing immediate feedback, and ensuring the students were understanding the concepts being taught.


 Students with disabilities can benefit from being in inclusive classrooms with their non-disabled peers for many reasons. It is definitely an advantage to include special education students in the regular education classroom if possible. Working together using various learning strategies has a positive impact on all students, regardless of ability. This impact is one of academics and social value. At Albers Elementary School there are two problems facing the special education teacher; space and peer collaboration. Both of these issues could be solved by having the special education teachers and regular education teachers work together to service all children, regardless of ability, in an inclusive educational setting.


Bottge, B. A., Toland, M. D., Gassaway, L., Butler, M., Choo, S., Griffen, A. K., & Ma, X. (2015). Impact of Enhanced Anchored Instruction in Inclusive Math Classrooms. Exceptional Children, 81(2), 158–175.

Lipsky, D.K. (2005). Are we there Yet? Learning Disability Quarterly, 28(2), 156-158.

McCarty, K. (2006). Full inclusion: The benefits and disadvantages of inclusive schooling. Online submission, 11, 1-11.

Smoot, S.L. (2004). An outcome measure for social goals of inclusion. Rural Special Education Quarterly, 23(3), 15-22.

Falkmer, M., Anderson, K., Joosten, A., & Falkmer, T. (2015). Parents’ Perspectives on Inclusive Schools for Children with Autism Spectrum Conditions. International Journal of Disability, Development & Education, 62(1), 1–23.

Swanson, T.C. (2005). Provide structure for children with learning and behavior problems. Intervention in School and Clinic, 40(3), 182-187.

Vaughn, S., Elbaum, B., & Schumm, J. (1996). The effects of inclusion on the social functioning of students with learnning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29, 598-608.

Wilson-Younger, D. (2009). Inclusion: Who really benefits? Online Submission, 8, 1-8.

Woodward, M.M., & Talbert-Johnson, C. (2009). Reading intervention models: Challenges of classroom support and separated instruction. Reading Teacher, 63(3), 190-200.

Zarghami, F., & Schnellert, G. (2004). Class size reduction: No silver bullet for special education students’ achievement. International Journal of Special Education, 19(1), 89-96.

Fuchs, L. S., Fuchs, D., Compton, D. L., Wehby, J., Schumacher, R. F., Gersten, R., & Jordan, N. C. (2015). Inclusion Versus Specialized Intervention for Very-Low-Performing Students: What Does Access Mean in an Era of Academic Challenge? Exceptional Children, 81(2), 134–157.

Ornstein, C., & Hunkins, F. (2009). Curriculum: Foundations, principles, and issues (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.


Working with Children with Special Educational Needs

The Legal and Regulatory requirements that are in place for children with disabilities.
Legal and regulatory requirements are in place to help children with disabilities or special educational needs against discrimination. The specific laws and regulations in place are; The Equality Act (2010), Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice (SEND)(2014), The United Nations Convention on the rights of the child (UNCRC) and The united Nations Convention on the rights of Persons with Disabilities.
The main principle of the Equality Act (2010) is to ensure children with disabilities or special educational needs have access to public settings and services. Therefore reasonable adjustments must be made to enable this to happen such as changes in the environment.
The SEND code of practice (2014) promotes the value of an individuals needs. The main principle being the child has their needs met as well as having access to the core provision available to their peers. Children with (SEND) should be given full access to education in an appropriate delivered curriculum, to enable them to reach their full potential. The United Nations Convention on The Rights of persons with Disabilities ensures disabled people enjoy human rights as a non-disabled person would. The code of practice states that parents must be included in any decisions or support given to a child and where appropriate the child’s views should be sought. It outlines measures that can be taken to reduce barriers and promote the rights of disabled children so these children can participate equally with other children. They ensure the child’s best interests are in consideration and they are given chance to express their own views and opinions. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) is a generic document that gives children rights regardless of their individual needs and circumstances. It highlights the importance of the voice of the child, their individual needs, adapting the environment so they can learn, play and rest and to give them the rights to all of the 54 articles.
Why it is important to work inclusively with children with disabilities.
It is important that practitioners work inclusively with children with special educational needs or disabilities so these children are given the same amount of opportunities as children without special educational needs or disabilities. They have the right to be educated in mainstream schools with other children. It is statutory that all children’s needs are recognized and met.
All children are individuals and unique therefore they will have specific strengths and weaknesses. Practitioners have the responsibility to provide a non-discriminated environment, and to accommodate all children’s strengths and weaknesses, which will be facilitated in the curriculum and planning through differentiation.
A child with special educational needs, or a disability, needs to feel welcome in a setting and to feel at ease and not to feel different to others. It’s important to make the child feel confident. This can be achieved by promoting a child’s self esteem by including them with decisions regarding their interests and by allowing children to try new things and to encourage them to try again using lots of praise.
Practitioners are responsible to plan and set up activities based on the child’s interests and hobbies in order to make the child feel at ease and confident.
Children with individual needs may require activities or environments to be adapted to meet their needs. Therefore practitioners need to plan with consideration and knowledge of all the child’s specific needs. Activities which may be too difficult or too simple should be adapted to meet the child’s level of understanding or be age related to meet their needs. However it is still important that these children are still challenged and stretched to reach their full potential. Practitioners and senco can work together to create individual educational plans (I.E.P). Individual educational plans are not required within the SEND but practitioners must make record of the provisions put in place. It is important to have in place specific resources to meet their needs to be able to complete activities. The child should never be made to feel inadequate or unable to access activities set, as this would impact and effect their self esteem. A child with a disability should be able to have access in all areas of their setting. Adaptations should be made, for example, ramps at entrances, ground floor classroom use and furniture layout changed to give access.
The benefits of working in partnership with parents and other professionals.
Working in partnership with the parents/carers of a child with special educational needs or disabilities is very important and is good practice. Most parents/carer’s know their child best. Unless in situations where the parent has a disability themselves. The parents/carer’s also have the most understanding and experiences of the child. The parents/carers can give professionals information that is important to give the child the support they need. The parents need to feel supported and comfortable to discuss their childs needs. The parents/carer’s feelings need to be taken into account as they may find it emotional or stressfull to talk about their childs additional needs. The parents of a child with additional needs may also have some additional needs, they may find talking about their child’s needs difficult to understand and may need support with this. Therefore it is important for practitioners to be aware of this point and provide these parents with home support such as Action for Children to explain certain terminology that they will understand. The parents/carer’s views and contributions help professionals to work more effectively to meet the childs needs. Parents/carer’s need to be given as much knowledge as possible about their child’s entitlements within the SEND framework. They should be given time and support to understand and complete any documentation or procedures. This will ensure an effective two way communication process and will deliver a robust support package for the child. Everyone involved should clearly understand the aims and goals for the child. Behavior and progress needs to be reported to parents so they feel included. Parents may need support with their child’s well-being and behavior at home so settings should offer them family learning sessions that may be available. A good relationship with parents is vital so they can work closely with professionals for the best of the child and their needs. A child may be experiencing a good or challenging day and so effective communication in sharing this information will be of great benefit to the child and practitioner knowing what best support to deliver that day. The working partnership between other professionals and the school/setting and the parents/carers is important so everyone can have a good understanding of the childs needs and the best ways to give them what they need. For example speech and language therapists may set activities and work for practitioners and parents to carry out to help the child. This is the same for physio therapists, health visitor, peadiatricians and social workers. They play important roles for the child. Multi agency work is so vital. All professionals working with a child and the family must understand and be fully aware of each others roles, goals and strategies. A childs education, health, development and well-being are interlinked and impact on each other. Regular reviews amongst multi agencies must take place in a timely manner to ensure all those are made accountable for their input, to discuss any improvements or deterioration in a child’s development and to move the child on further. Children with disabilities are vulnerable and all those working with them must ensure they are kept safe from harm, neglect and abuse. Regular reviews and close working together will highlight any signs of potential concern and early strategies can be put into place to ensue the best for the child.
Describe how practitioners can adapt their existing practice to support children with disabilities.
Practitioners must be aware of their legal duties underlined in legislation, understand how their role fits into this and to carry this out on a daily basis. Practitioners must make others aware of their duties to include children with disabilities and challenge and negative remarks or practice.
Resources must be readily available to adapt activities for individual children. Children’s interests, ability and safety must be met when planning their education. A child should be willing and eager to participate in an exciting and appropriate activity to best support their learning and achievements. Resources must be easily accessable to the child to promote their independence and self esteem that they can do things for them selves and can achieve. A range of real resources should be available to choose. Practitioners must be aware if a child has difficulties in making choices and being independent. If so a visual timetable and providing two choices will be of better support. A child with sensory difficulties may find it difficult in a large classroom and may benefit from a smaller and quieter environment. Health and safety must be a priority so a child cannot injure themselves or others when moving around the classroom. Here it is important that the layout of a room, storage of resources and their location is kept the same so a child can learn where things belong. Children experiencing emotional and behavioural difficulties will require a sensitive adult and an environment that allows them to express their feelings be it positive or negative and still feel valued. A child may need support during crisis and therefore an area to go that is safe from causing themselves or other harm. They may need support in choosing an activity, visual aids such as photographs at activities or holding up real objects may be useful.

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It is essential that records are kept and observations are recorded of additional support and activities that are put in place as extra help for children with disabilities. This can be in the form of an Individual Educational Plan, which details specific targets and timescales for professionals to work on with a child. Plans of how professionals are going to achieve those targets e.g. what resources will be used, what activities, who will be involved, for how long and how often and notes on how it went and observations on a child accessing and using the resources and their learning and development all should be recorded as evidence and used as support in moving the child on further. A successful record keeping system needs to be established in settings that works for them and the individual child and that parents and other professionals can add to regularly; such as half termly and can understand.  

Special Educational Needs (SEN) Child Rights

Assignment one
Discrimination of others can occur for a number of reasons, and to a number of different people. Individuals may be discriminated against obviously and deliberately, known as direct discrimination. People can also be discriminated against indirectly. Indirect discrimination comes about when specific actions or practices meant for all are inadequate for an individual, which can then cause discouraging effects (Equality law, no date).
Children and adults with special educational needs (SEN) may be subject to discrimination as a result of their additional needs. Due to this, there are regulations, legislation and laws put in place to safeguard and protect individuals with SEN.
Laws and legislation have moved forward and adapted over time to facilitate those concerned. One Act that became a turning point for children with SEN was the 1981 Education Act. Prior to this Mary Warnock published a report regarding mainstream and special schools and the education of children with SEN within them. Some of her recommendations became part of the 1981 Education Act, one of which being that children diagnosed with additional needs should be educated where and when it is appropriate within a mainstream setting, and so integration began. Integration then led to inclusion with several Acts and pieces of legislation following, for example, 1995 Disability Discrimination Act, 1997 Green Paper: Excellence for All Children and 2001 The Code of Practice for Special Educational Needs (Gibson and Blandford, 2005).

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Another piece of documentation is the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC); this gives rights to all children, additional need or not. The convention sets basic standards for children that should all be respected by the relevant government. Within this document there are fifty four articles summarising and clarifying these rights. These articles cover a range of topics, for example, Article 14: this is regarding a child’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Article 27: this outlines the right for every child to have an adequate standard of living which enables their physical, mental, moral, spiritual and social development, and Article 28: this states the right of the child to education, ensuring equal opportunities and access to education for all children (UNCRC, 1989).
One convention regarding all with SEN is The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This document outlines the importance for people with SEN to be treated as equals and to benefit from their human rights, as a person without SEN would. Article 24 covers the subject of education. This reiterates the right of people with SEN to education, and to be able to achieve this right without discrimination. It also states that governments should ensure an inclusive education system (Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, 2008).
All of the above pieces of legislation and documentation are put in place to ensure a safe and healthy environment for those with SEN, and to ensure equal opportunities for all regarding all aspects of their life, whether it’s their education or having the chance to have your own views listened to.
For the practitioners working with children, inclusive practice should be something they take their time to ensure is in place in their setting. The term inclusion has taken the place of integration, and is promoted or required within legislation in all EU countries (Evans & Lunt, 2002).
There are two models that outline the ways society view disabilities, these are the medical model of disability and the social model of disability. The medical model of disability sees disability as a problem that needs to be fixed or cured. This model depicts a negative image of disability because the emphasis is placed on the disability and not the individual needs of the child. On the other hand, the social model of disability empowers people with disabilities by recognising they have an equal right to be included within every part of society (Disabled world, 2010). This model highlights that it’s ‘the collective responsibility of society to make the environmental modifications necessary for the full participation of people with disabilities in all areas of social life’ (Disabled world, 2010).
Rosenthal (2001, p385) writes that ‘inclusion is a process, not a fixed state. By inclusion we mean not only that pupils with SEN should wherever possible receive their education in a mainstream school, but that they should fully join with their peers in the curriculum and life of the school’. When Ofsted inspect a school, they look for educational inclusion. This entails a school having teaching and learning, triumphs, viewpoints and the well being of every child counting. This inclusive experience is expected with a wide range of groups of people, including those with SEN (Birnbaum, 2010).
To ensure inclusion within a setting, practitioners must ensure all staff show respect for each child by treating them as an individual and taking note of their particular needs. When showing respect, and listening to the child, the likes and dislikes of the child should be acknowledged and taken on board when planning for that child. The practitioner’s ability to adapt the learning environment will help to empower the child. When adjusting practice it is important to remember the child’s preferences, appropriateness of the topic and how these are developed, to help their confidence and self-esteem to grow (Lodato Wilson, 2005).
Westwood (2007, p.83) writes about three different circumstances needed to encourage and accommodate children with SEN and their interactions with others. These are, ‘the general attitude of the teacher and the peer group towards children with SEN must be as positive and accepting as possible, the environment should be arranged so that the child with a disability has the maximum opportunity to spend time socially involved in group or pair activities, during recess and during academic work in the classroom and the child needs to be taught the specific skills that may enhance social contact with peers’. An inclusive practice is an important part of education for all involved, and it begins with the practitioners, they must have a positive attitude towards SEN which should then be reflected within their setting.
It is also fundamental for practitioners to highlight how they strive to promote inclusive practice with all parents, staff and professionals they may be working in partnership with.
Within the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice there is a chapter that highlights the importance of parents working in partnership with practitioners. It emphasises the role parents play in their child’s education, and their involvement making decisions regarding their child, and what would be best for them (Green, 2003).
Green (2003, p305) also writes, ‘if early years staff do not communicate with, ask questions of, and receive relevant information from, children’s parents, they will not be fully prepared to respond to children’s individual needs, identify potential points of crisis for them, or have the awareness to help them to cope with new or worrying situations’. As well as practitioners ensuring they have regular contact with parents, it is vital they make themselves approachable to parents. This will encourage the parent to communicate with the practitioner, and give them the confidence to do so.
When working with children with additional needs, there may be a number of other professionals also involved with that child. There could be a physiotherapist, who may provide physical healing methods for a range of injuries or illnesses, the family may also be given some exercises to further the treatment (Behrens, 2013). A speech and language therapist could be required to carry out an assessment to identify any communication difficulty, to measure the degree of difficulty, to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of the child, and to set some targets to work towards which would be discussed with the parents, and possibly other professionals (Wright, 1993). The child may visit a paediatrician at a local hospital, often referred by a GP (general practitioner). The paediatrician will speak with the parents and the child, where possible, and carry out necessary observations and assessments to gather all of the information needed to decipher the best possible actions for the child, and make any further referrals if needed (Miall, Rudolf and Smith, 2012).
It is important for practitioners to be aware of children having involvement with other professionals, and ensuring communication between the services is effective. Within all childcare settings a SENCo (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) must be in place. The SENCo role may differ slightly from setting to setting (Crowne, 2003). However, the SEN Code of Practice (DfE, 2001) highlighted some key responsibilities for the SENCo. They are: ‘ensuring liaison with parents and other professionals in respect of children with special educational needs, advising and supporting other practitioners in the setting, ensuring that appropriate Individual Educational Plans are in place and ensuring that relevant background information about individual children with special educational needs is collected, recorded and updated’.
All practitioners should ensure the appropriate adaptations are carried out within their setting. Adaptations should be made in the environment, with the resources in use, and practitioners need to adapt their practice if needed, and display a positive attitude towards each child and their inclusion within the setting.
Adjustments to the environment could include installing ramps or lifts, ensuring doors are wide enough for wheelchair access, varying toilet heights to facilitate all children, and table and seat height is adequate for all (Klein, Cook & Richardson-Gibbs, 2001). The immediate nursery environment should also be adapted where necessary, ‘adapting the environment to suit their individual needs will help their progress’ (Beaver et al., 2001, p63).
Reasonable adjustments should also be made with the resources within the setting. This could be ensuring that all activities are set up at a level that can be accessed by all children. Each practitioner also needs to consider that they know the strengths and areas of need for all children in their care, all activities should therefore further the strengths of children with additional needs, but are also challenging and able to enhance all of the children (Deiner, 2010).
Another area for adjustment could also be the attitudes and perspective of the practitioners themselves, and although the activities and environment are important factors that should always be considered, each practitioner is a role model and their ‘behaviour toward children- acceptance, consideration and respect- speaks louder to the class than anything you deliberately set out to teach’ (Deiner, 2010, p.2).
In conclusion, there are several entitlements and rights of children with SEN that must be met by the practitioners and professionals that care for them. These entitlements are highlighted within a number of legal documents and pieces of legislation. A key requirement within some of these documents is the definitive access to an inclusive education that will meet each individual child’s needs, including making reasonable adjustments and adaptations if required. Each practitioner should also ensure they cooperate fully with the families and work in partnership with them to deliver the highest quality childcare they possibly can.
Reference List

Beaver, M., Brewster, J., Jones, P., Keene, A., Neaum, S. & Tallack, J. (2001) Babies and Young Children: Diploma in Child Care and Education. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
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Green, S. (2003) BTEC First Early Years, 2nd edn. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes Ltd.
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Lodato Wilson, G. (2005) ‘Promoting competency, independence, and self-advocacy’, in Schwartz, D. (eds) Including children with special needs. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group, pp. 257-270.
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Rosenthal, H. (2001) ‘Discussion paper- Working Towards Inclusion: “I am another other”’, Educational Psychology in Practice, 17(4), pp.385-392.
UNCRC (The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) (1989) Online. Available at: (Accessed 21 October 2013).
Westwood, P. (2007) Commonsense methods for children with special educational needs, 5th edn. Oxon: Routledge.
Wright, J.A. (1993) ‘Assessment of Children with Special Needs’, in Beech, J.R., Harding, L. & Hilton-Jones, D. (eds) Assessment in Speech and Language Therapy. London: Routledge, pp. 128-148.

Working with Children with Special Educational Needs

Children with Disabilities or Specific Requirements
Today, mainstream schools educate numerous children with specific educational needs or disabilities. For some time it has been enshrined in our domestic law that children with such needs should not be discriminated against and have the right to be treated fairly. Every child has the right to an inclusive education.
The Legal and Regulatory Requirements
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child applies to all children and sets out basic entitlements and rights for example;
Article 12 – the views of the child should be taken into account. Along with The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with a Disability, the Conventions also set out specific rights for disabled children underscoring promoting equality of treatment and more specifically, Article 24- Education requires that children with disabilities are entitled to be educated within an inclusive educational system, receive support accommodating individual requirements to facilitate an effective education and so to maximise academic and social development.
Article 7 specifies that the best interests of the child must be a primary consideration and Article 9 requires that children with disabilities have equal access, without barriers, within a school to the physical environment including communication, information and technology.
The various rights and entitlements under these conventions underpin our domestic legislation in the areas of special educational needs. The most recent legislation is the Children and Family Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”) which places schools under a duty to make arrangements for supporting children with medical conditions and in meeting this duty schools must have regard to the statutory guidance – Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions. Further to this there is additional provision in relation to children with a disability defined under The Equality Act 2010 ”…a physical and mental impairment that has a substantial long term and negative effect on your ability to do normal daily activities”. The relevant part of this Act is that schools must have reasonable adjustments in place to prevent children with disabilities being treated differently or at a disadvantage to other children. Further children with disabilities must not be victimised, harassed or discriminated against.

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The 2014 Act also introduces Education, Health and Care Plans. These plans have come into place in September 2014 and will make a statutory assessment of that child’s special educational needs then also communicating with the relevant health and social care teams to bring all the information together into one plan. The difference between a statement and an Education, Health and Care plan are overall family centred, gathering information from all services involved at the point of referral. The aim is to help improve outcomes and this will replace Statements of Special Educational Needs. Children who currently already have a statement will go through the transition process to achieve an Education, Health and Care Plan.
Inclusive Practice
It is our duty to children with disabilities and special educational needs who are placed in a mainstream educational setting to fulfil a positive developing experience in an inclusive practice.
Where the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice (June 2014) focuses on inclusive practice, it states that the government in the United Kingdom have a commitment to inclusive education of disabled children and young people, progressively removing barriers to learning and the participation of pupils in mainstream education. For settings to succeed in achieving this, adults will need to work together closely as a team to ensure appropriate education and care for such children.
It is important for children with a disability or special educational needs that they are given the same expectations to succeed as their peers. This will promote and develop social skills to enable positive confidence and transition into adulthood. Therefore leaders of educational settings must undertake the correct training and collaborate the right support aiming towards successfully including all children with disabilities and special educational needs in mainstream schools.
Settings will need to take into account extra-curricular activities, school visits and trips.
‘It is through this inclusive ethos that all children feel secure and able to contribute and in this way stereotypical views are challenged and pupils can learn to view differences in others in a positive way.’ OFSTED Report 2003
Partnership with Parents and Other Professionals.
The Children’s Act 2014 aims to ensure the welfare of the child is paramount having a greater emphasis on parental involvement.
Subsequently the Children’s Act 2014 states each local authority is responsible in setting out a ‘local offer’ available to Early Years settings and schools for families to access easy-to-understand information with options available to help support children who are disabled or have special educational needs and their families who need additional help. This provision will include transport services and leisure facilities. If parents or carers cannot access the internet for any reason this must be available in another format. Inevitably the goal is to ask the child and their family what assistance they feel that they need and receive feedback on their ‘local offer’ so this can then improve even further.
Within the ‘local offer’ parents and children will receive a greater choice and control over their support in their provisions and home life, this includes personal budgets.
Parent forums set up in local areas are a great way for discussing contacts and communicating with other parents who may be in similar situations.
Early Years professionals, Teachers along with the provisions Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator and in some cases any other professionals involved must take part in structured conversations with each child and their parents. Individual Pupil Profiles and Individual Educational Plans must be signed by all parties with participation and involvement in all areas of the profiles and plans.
Parents can play a great if not essential role at all stages of their child’s education helping immensely in improving achievement. Parents can aid a learning community and help by positively engaging their child with staff and peers. Parents will then begin to understand the role they play in their child’s learning and development. There will undoubtedly be hurdles but with an excellent inclusive practice with a strong professional team in place, barriers will be resolved. These hurdles from parents contributing to and who are which supporting their child’s education may consist of a high level of educational aspirations for their child in which case settings need to ensure practical obstacles and professional attitudes are addressed alongside measures to support parents goals.
Every local authority must guarantee that everyone is involved in discussions and any decisions which support provision and learning for the individual child.
The ultimate result in an inclusive practice is for a best and positive outcome, making sure the child’s and family’s needs are met and for the child to prepare for adulthood.
Existing Practice
Every existing educational practice should have a designated teacher holding the role of Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENco). This teacher should be trained in this area to be able to manage and support specific children and the staff team.
It is vital that all teachers throughout the school and support staff have valuable training in all special educational needs areas. This training should be of a high quality and where necessary staff may have personalised training for each individual child to be able to achieve the best positive outcome for that child with their specific needs.
Each practice should be concentrating on four areas of development:

Communication and interaction
Cognition and learning
Social, Emotional and mental health difficulties
Sensory and/or Physical

These areas should then transfer into regular assessments for each individual child.
‘Once a potential special educational need is identified, schools should take action to remove barriers to learning and put effective special education provision in place. This SEN support should take the form of a four part cycle- assess, plan, do, review. This is known as the graduated approach’ SEND Code of Practice 2014 0-25yrs Chapter 6- Schools.
All teachers educating a child with a disability or a special educational need should have termly meetings with the parents and the Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator to discuss their child’s individual educational plan making sure positive targets are being met for the child. Also a meeting with the child present at certain points throughout their academic year to discuss their Pupil Profile to make sure everything is up to date and that the child is happy in their learning.
Ofsted will need to see evidence of individual pupil progress in every school from children with special educational needs. Clearly showing positive outcomes graduating into ongoing effective monitoring and finally evaluation of their special educational needs support.
When adapting an educational practice for a visually impaired child considering the surrounding environment for that child will be main priority. Around the classroom setting staff need to consider lighting, colour/tone and contrast. When the individual child moves between rooms will a dark room going into a light room or light room going into dark room affect the child? Will signage around the room need to be adapted?
Risk assessments will need to be carried out underlining the physical environment for example stairs, steps, fixtures and fittings.
Most educational settings now have interactive white boards. Seating positions for individual children will need to be taken into account.
In relation to adapting the setting, the position of the teacher’s chair is very important this should not be in front of an outside window as this will cause the teacher to become shadow like for the child. When the child is navigating around the environment edges need to be highlighted and activity areas need to be well defined. Movement around the setting needs to flow clearly and effectively.
Staff need to be aware of how adapting the environment will affect other children. Personal, social and educational development issues can be shared during circle times with every child included in the setting.
Learning tools such as braille books, Load 2 Learn reading books and treasure chests which focus on sensory learning will help support and encourage positive fun education.
Some visually impaired children may suffer with behavioural issues, this may need extra staff support and training and will need to be regularly monitored.
Other reservations in an educational setting to consider will be the child’s personal care, school assemblies, school trips, physical education lessons including sports day and hand over times both in the morning and after school pick up time.
With all special educational needs children there needs to be a contingency plan in place, in regards to a visually impaired child for example this may involve their glasses getting accidentally broken.
When staff are assessing each individual child’s progress they need to ensure the child has the correct resources for their target level making sure activities are not too easy or too challenging which may result in a barrier towards that child’s learning or participation.
In conclusion to this, inclusion is essential for each and every child under the special educational needs umbrella and we must adopted this ethos by working closely with parents to help support their child’s education and collaborating with all other professionals involved. Working together and having a flexible supportive team is the key to achieving an inclusive education for all children.
Unfortunately in some cases lack of knowledge and training from early year’s practitioners and teachers is one of the main barriers to inclusion. The special educational needs umbrella has helped professionals understand that training and support for children with disabilities and special educational needs is vital for every individual child’s positive progress and to reach their full potential in an inclusive mainstream school.
Finally underpinning the United Nations Convention Rights of the Child and the Children’s Act 2014 working with teaching strategies which are presently being used in mainstream schools can be adapted to assist pupils with disabilities and special educational needs therefore creating an inclusive practice throughout the school.
Alison Carr
[Type text]  

Nature vs Nurture for Children with Special Needs

Discuss Whether Nature or Nurture Contribute to Special Needs in Children? Select One Type of Developmental Difficulties / Special Needs: Autism

There is an ongoing debate about whether human afflictions or conditions are caused by genetic / innate factors and inherited (nature) or influenced by environmental factors (nurture). For some psychologists human characteristics are fixed, whilst others argue that our characteristics are susceptible to environmental factors and can be changed. Finding answers to these questions are at the center of ‘nature versus nurture’ debates.

This essay discusses the part that nature and nurture plays in the etiology of autism spectrum disorder in children. The essay begins with brief information on how autistic spectrum disorder is conceptualized.

Levy et al (2009, pp. 1627–1638)  explains autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to include  “pervasive neurodevelopmental disorders that involve moderately to severely disrupted functioning in regard to social skills and socialisation, expressive and receptive communication, and repetitive or stereotyped behaviours and interests”. ASD is explained to occur gradually and take various forms including physical limitations, cognitive deficits and learning difficulties.  

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 An early attempt to explain autism linked the etiology of autism to bad parenting (Kanner, 1943). Parental coldness, lack of empathy and care and overprotectiveness were explained to be some of the contributory factors to the development of autism in children. Further attempts to explain the causes of autism however rejected the Kanner’s explanation and linked autism to adverse biological factors (Hulme and Snowling, 2009); Arora et al, 2017; Grandjean and Landrigan, 2006).

Grandjean and Landrigan (2006, p.2167–2178) research linked foetal and early exposure to toxic metals, dietary and nutritional deficiencies to be some of the contributory factors of ASD. Grabrucker (2012) and Modabbernia et al (2016) also explained exposure to adverse environmental conditions to be some of the etiological factors of ASD. Modabbernia et al (ibid) found exposure to or presence of various metals in the body to affect brain development and autism.  Krakowiak et al (2012) also found mothers with metabolic conditions, obesity, hypertension, or diabetes to frequently give birth to children with ASD.  Gardener et al (2009) meta-analysis research of pregnant women with diabetes found diabetes to produce possible autistic risk in children.

Hobson and Bishop (2003) and Mukaddes et al (2007) studies on the other hand found several hereditary autistic spectrum features in mentally and visually impaired children. This was researched by Landrigan (2010) and they found biological / genetic and environmental conditions to be familial factors in the causation of autism (Bailey et al, 1995) Folstein and Rosen-Sheidley (2001) research also found autism in monozygotic twins to be as high as 70% and when the broader phenotype of autism was considered, the autism concordance in monozygotic twins were found to be approximately 90%. Concordance rates for autism in dizygotic twins were however no higher than among singleton siblings.

In the nature and nurture debate, the risk of children developing autistic conditions has also been linked to parents age (Croen et al,2007;  Grether et al, 2009;  Reichenberg et al, 2010).  Possible risk of children with parents with advanced age developing autism was found by Gardener et al (2009), Shelton et al (2010), Sandin et al (2012) and Kong et al (2012).The latter study revealed children with older fathers to be more predisposed to autism and explained this as due to the fact that males transmit a much higher number of mutations to their children than women and are therefore the dominant parent in determining the number of ‘de novo mutations’ in children.

Other risk factors are cited to involve pregnancy complications (Gardener et al, 2009; Enstrom et al, 2009). Pro-inflammatory cytokines arising from maternal autoimmunity and aberrant neuronal growth are for example explained to cause foetal brain disorders in children (Buehler, 2011). Birth complications, trauma or ischemia, maternal obesity and diabetes are also said to produce higher risk of ASD (====) 

======meta-analysis of epidemiological studies involving 25,687 ASD cases and 8,655,576 control sample found association between advanced maternal age of parents and possible risk of autism in their children.

In the nature vs nurture debate, there is also the view that autism are caused by vaccines that children receive at an early age. Vaccines were proposed to cause ASD in the 1990s. Wakefield et al (1998) (gastroenterologist) cohort researches published in the Lancet argued that children vaccinated with the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccines were more likely to have bowel disease. They argued that linked vaccine viruses to cause disruption of intestinal tissues, bowel and neuropsychiatric diseases and produce autism. They claimed that they found evidence in many of the 12 cases they studied about measles virus in the digestive systems of children and that the children exhibited autism symptoms after MMR vaccination (Thompson et al, 1995). Wakefield et al recommended for the suspension of MMR vaccines to be suspended and a single-antigen vaccinations to be given. Fudenberg (1996) in a small pilot study also linked MMR vaccines to autism as did Gupta (2000) in a review of possible treatments for autism. Press coverage in Britain and the United States about this causal relationship gave rise to parents delaying or completely refusing MMR vaccination for their children (Offit, 2008). 

Subsequent studies however found no link between MMR and autism nor confirmed Wakefield’s findings (Immunisation Safety Review Committee, Institute of Medicine 2001; Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Vaccine Education Centre, 2019). The Editors of the Lancet (2010) including Dr Horton argued in 2004 television interview that Wakefield’s research was “fatally flawed.” (Laurance, 2004). Wakefield was found to have filed for a patent for a single-antigen measles vaccine in 1997 and accused of conflict of interest (Deer, 1997; 2011).  This led to the Britain General Medical Council banning Dr Wakefield from practicing medicine in Britain on the basis that he had shown “callous disregard” for children in the course of his research (Meikle and Boseley, 2010). Other vaccines such as thimerosal (mercury-containing vaccines) however continued to be linked to autism but thimerosal was not found in MMR vaccines or as antimicrobial agents (World Health Organization, 2011). Studies conducted by Danish researchers on vaccines and autism in children (cited in Hviid et al, 2019) also rejected the linkage of vaccines to autism. The Danish researchers analysed data from a sample of more than 650,000 children but found no overall increase of autism among children who received vaccines. This contradicted claims by anti-vaccination advocates that autism is caused by MMR vaccine. MMR vaccination was therefore not regarded as posing any risk factor for the development of autism (Doja and Roberts, 2006). Miller and Reynolds, 2009 and Flaherty, 2011) used evidence based information from several rigorous scientific researches in the examination of the association between vaccines and autism and found no compelling link.

The rising rates of autism (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019) caused critics to shift their attention to mercury exposure and other connections when other vaccines were added to children’s immunisation schedule. Aluminium adjuvant in some vaccines was explained as a potential cause of autism. The amounts of aluminium used in vaccines were however found to be very small in comparison to other exposures such as in breast milk (The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2018) and no compelling evidence of an association between exposure to aluminium and autism was however found (DeStefano et al, 2013).

The use of certain medication by pregnant women has also been linked with ASD in children but researchers found mixed results. Gentile (2014) study for evidence of association between the use of maternal valproate medication for epilepsy and bipolar disorder found children of mothers that use the medication to have poor neuro-development but this finding was complicated by several confounders including dosage. Kobayashi et al (2016) review of five case-control cohort studies also found 50% increase of risk of ASD in children of mothers who took Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SRI) but when the researchers conducted a sensitivity analysis by comparing SRI-exposed group to SRI non-exposed group in mothers with psychiatric conditions, they found no significant increase in risk of ASD in offspring. This led the researchers to conclude the relation between SRI and ASD to be largely due to confounding factors. Rosen et al (2015) meta-analysis of 15 studies also found no association between maternal smoking and risk of ASD in children. This lack of association was however complicated by postnatal assessment of prenatal smoking that found a slight increase in risk but this was attributed to possible recall bias.

Several studies sought to find whether there is association between nutritional elements such as folic acid or vitamin D produce ASD risk (Sharp et al 2013; Babaknejad et al 2016) and autism. A meta-analysis by Sharp et al (ibid) found significantly lower protein and calcium intake in children with ASD but the estimates were found to be inconsistent.  A meta-analysis of 12 studies by Babaknejad et al (2016) also found significantly lower zinc levels in children with ASD. Wang et al. (2016) meta-analysis of 11 vitamin D and ASD studies also found significantly lower levels of serum 25-hydroxy vitamin D in subjects with ASD than those in controls. Gastrointestinal abnormalities and “Leaky gut syndrome” are also cited as risk factors for autism based on pregnant mothers reporting gastrointestinal disturbances (Liu et al., 2005; Lebba et al., 2011).  Studies on nutritional elements such as deficiency in folic acid and omega 3 however showed inconclusive detrimental effects on ASD. Whilst Castro et al (2016) systematic review of evidence for folic acid and risk of ASD found some association between folate deficiency and ASD-like traits, the self-report findings in the majority of the studies were found to be inconsistent.

Other studies enquired about whether exposure to toxic air pollution, thimerosal (ethylmercury), inorganic mercury, and heavy metals cause ASD. Lam et al (2016) meta-analysis of researches found a small association between prenatal exposure to particular matters and risk of ASD but the risk was found to be inconsistent across studies when exposure was measured via indirect methods. De Palma et al (2012) meta-analysis studies compared hair concentration of heavy metals between patients with ASD and a control sample and found little association of hair metal concentration of mercury, copper, cadmium, selenium, and chromium with ASD. Whilst significant higher levels of lead were found in the hair of patients with ASD than the control group, the estimates were found to be inconsistent across the studies analysed. Yoshimasu et al (2014) also found no association between thimerosal exposure and ASD and suggested that early life exposure to mercury by vaccination did not increase the risk of ASD. The researchers however concluded that exposure to inorganic mercury in the environment might be associated with an increased risk of ASD.

Autistic children are known to manifest learning difficulties (===)  but Bandura (1977) social learning theory and Bowlby (1969) attachment theory depart from purely genetic or biological causes for this and cites environmental factors including poor attachment or bonding relationship between a child and mother/caregiver, lack of social interactions, observation and imitation to influence children’s learning and acquisition of knowledge.  This theory explains a person to grow through positive attachment relations with parents during developmental stages, become more aware and learns about their surroundings (Armstrong, 2012, p77). Froehlich (2013) revisited this environmental proposition and revealed that autistic twins mimics each other‘s behaviours and actions and that separation causes autistic twins to manifest differential and distinctive behaviours. This finding argues about the prominent role that environmental exposures play in the causation of autism (Daniels, 2006). Environment factors are argued to act in concert with inherited susceptibilities and epigenetic to produce ASD (Mehler, 2008; Nikehasani, 2018).

Karimi et al (2017) research on environmental factors considered the link between poor families’ economic, social, educational and psychological factors and autism in children (Lee et al, 2008).  Families experiencing poverty and challenging life conditions including financial problems were found to experience anxieties and psychological stresses (Adler and Newman, 2002). These and inaccessible health care facilities were found to impair the health and welfare of families (Kaczynski and Henderson, 2008). Children of pregnant women exposed to stressors and anxieties were found to be susceptible to autism (Ladd et al, 2004). Other human and animal studies have also found prenatal and perinatal stressors to activate hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis on postnatal behaviour in human and animal studies (Ward, 1990; Beversdorf et al., 2005) argued that HPA act as possible cause, type and severity of autism in children. Significant changes were found in the regulation of the HPA axis of animals, regardless of the specific prenatal stressor studied.

Prenatal stressors were also found to produce behaviours resembling symptoms of autism (Kinney et al., 2008). Prenatal exposure to stress, hormones and psychological stress of mother rhesus monkeys were found to result in abnormalities in postnatal immune function in infants and late childhood (Coe et al, 1999). Whilst immune functions such as proliferation of lymphocytes, natural killer cell activity and production of cytokines might decrease or resist viral and bacterial infections, pathological mechanisms of prenatal infection and stress were found to increase the risk of autism. Stress was said to produce complications of during child birth and linked to greater risk of hypoxia and cerebral haemorrhage in the new-born.  Limperopoulos et al (2007) study for example revealed that children that survived cerebellar haemorrhagic injury had a significantly high risk of developing autism. What the information on maternal stressors indicates is that children born with autism were predisposed to a variety of adverse prenatal factors that act as contributory factors of ASD development.

Autism has also been linked to parental use of opiates (Sahley and Panksepp, 1987). The opiate proposition explains digestive disorder and gluten to react or convert to opioid peptides gliadorphin and casomorphin to influence the development of autism in children, more evidence (e.g. in control studies) are however needed to verify gastrointestinal pathologies.

In the nature and nurture debate, abnormal melatonin synthesis, most particularly abnormalities in melatonin secretion is said to play a significant part in the development of autism. Melatonin is an endogenous neurohormone produced predominantly in the pineal gland and levels of melatonin or melatonin derivatives often below average in individuals have been proposed to cause ASD (Rossignol and Frye, 2011). Cortesi (2010) argued that as low melatonin level can be found in healthy individuals, it cannot be considered as a direct cause of ASD, but a susceptibility factor. Cortesi advised for the proposed effects and link of maternal melatonin deficiency on offspring to  ASD should be subjected to further investigation.

Children with ASD have also been found to have a higher prevalence of sleep abnormalities including longer “sleep onset latency,” frequent night-time awakenings and reduced sleep duration (Rossignol and Frye, ibid). Cortesi et al (2010) however explain sleeping problems to sometimes occur as a result of complex interactions between genetic and social/environmental factors.

Mothers’ social isolation, lack of social interaction and breakdown in communications with social networks are explained to have negative affect or endanger pregnant mother’s psychological state and embryo’s health can cause ASD risk. (Samadi and McConkey, 2011).

Lee et al (2008) evaluated studies on the relationship between parental education and risk of autism in children and found variable conclusions including low levels and differential correlation of parental education and risk of autism. King and Bearman (2011) however found high correlation between parental education and incidence of autism. It appears the assumption is that parents with higher education may be better placed to understand and avoid risk factors associated with the development of ASD in their children. 

The nature and nurture debate information presented show that epigenetics / biological factors including cytogenetic abnormalities on chromosome and genome-wide association (Sutcliffe, 2008), hereditary and environmental factors are all contributory factors of the aetiology of autistic spectrum disorder in children.  What this shows is that in the nature and debate about the aetiology of ASD,  no single cause for autism can adequately explain the differential collection of genetic and environmental factors that give rise to the etiology of autism (Shah and Frith, 2003; Happe and Frith, 2006). Existential sporadic cases, wide heterogeneity in clinical presentation, discordant development in monozygotic twins, adverse environmental conditions and occurrences within family members with fully developed autism and others that only manifest ‘autistic traits’ are all cited as significant factors in nature and nurture debates. This shows that biology and environmental factors do not exist in isolation. Genetically induced or hereditary factors including family-based genes and mutations, notably in SHANK3, a gene that encodes a synaptic scaffolding protein and adverse environmental factors can all be conceptualised to contribute or put children possible risk of developing ASD.  

What the information presented also shows is that despite advances in the understanding of biological or genetic contribution to the aetiology of autism (Barton and Volkmar, 1998; Lamb, 2002; Muhle et al, 2004; Santangelo et al, 2005), a purely genetic or biological explanation of causation of autism can therefore be considered to be inadequate.  Differential clinical and epidemiological factors, discordant development in monozygotic twins and occurrences within family members with fully developed autism whilst others only manifest ‘autistic traits’ and environmental factors all draw attention to the aetiology of ASD to involve both nature and nurture causation.



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Working with Children with Special Educational Needs

There are a number of regulations and requirements in place to protect children with special educational needs or disabilities. It was originally believed that children with needs should be sent to a special school and therefore choice for parents and children was very limited. However, with the implementation of laws and regulations this has very much changed, with children with needs attending mainstream schools of their parents’ and their choice wherever this is possible. The onus is very much on the setting being adapted for the child rather than the child being unable to fit in with the mainstream setting.
The laws regarding children start with the Education Act 1970 which saw the transfer of the responsibility to educate children with special needs from the health service to the local authority. As a result of this special schools were built. Around this time the medical model of disability was frequently used. This model labelled the child as somehow having a fault. The focus was very much on what the child could not do rather than their skills and aptitudes. This model focused on the perceived need for segregation hence the need for separate special facilities. Opinion suggests this model puts a great deal of anxiety and stress upon the parents of the child and limits the choices and opportunities they can give the child.
The Warnock report looked into SEN and from this report a number of suggestions were consequently made. Suggestions looked at how the child could access the curriculum and how to adapt the environment to meet the needs of the child thus enabling them to do this.
The Education ACT 1981 took a lot of its claims from the Warnock report and gave power to the parents. It also outlined in detail the legal responsibilities of the LEA.
The Education reform Act 1988 saw the introduction of the National Curriculum. This ensured consistency of teaching across schools. However this could still be adapted to meet the needs of children with SEN and Disabilities.
The Children’s Act 1989 states that the needs and wishes of the child are paramount and should be considered when at all possible in all decision making processes. This again gives more power to children with SEN in where and how they are educated.
The Education Act 1993 brought about the need for specific guidance on the identification of children with SEN. The SENCo was introduced and again gives more power to the parents and in a way gave them a voice through the SENco.
The disability discrimination Act 1995 brought in such laws as it being illegal to discriminate against disabled people in relation to employment housing etc.
It could be argued that the most important law of all regarding children with disabilities or specific requirements is the SEN code of practice 2001. This is the Act that gives the power to the child and their parents. Most importantly this act gave rise to the law that children with SEN have the right to a mainstream education. There was an immense focus on inclusive practise and the adaption of the environment to fit the child and not the other way around as previous. This act fully encompasses the social model of disability. This act gives upmost power to the parent to choose where their child is educated and how.

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The Act is embodied by seven key principles. The first is that the knowledge of parents should be taken into account in all decisions. They do after all know their own child and their individual needs better than anyone else. The second states that the focus should be on what the child can do not what they cannot. The third principle states that parent’s feelings and emotions should be supported. The fourth and again these are very much linked, states that parents should be fully involved with all decisions. The fifth principle states that parents know what is best for their child. The sixth principle shows that parents may also suffer disability and this should be supported and understood. Finally the seventh principle, states that meetings should be arranged in good time and at times suitable for the parents. Parents may have other siblings to look after or they may be juggling employment and childcare. They cannot always be there for a meeting at a time suitable for the setting. This should be considered when all meetings are being set. The act fully highlights the need for positive and close relationships with parents aswell as empowerment for the child.
The act states the importance of early identification and close monitoring of all intervention and support through the use of documents such as IEP’s. The act also give guidance on the levels of support through school action and school action plus and indicates who is responsible and at what levels of the support process.
In summary there are a number of regulations and laws that support children and their families with SEN and disability all of which should be carefully adhered to when working with the children and their family. The outcome if the laws are followed correctly should be a happy fulfilled child reaching their full potential with happy parents. This would abide by the principle of every child matters ensuring that all children whatever their needs are given support to fulfil their goals.
It is extremely important to work inclusively with children with disabilities or specific requirements. Firstly this would adhere to the SEN code of conduct which explores the need to work inclusively. Inclusions involves “looking for ways of helping children to join in who would tradtionally be excluded from settings or activities” pg 312 Children’s care learning and development. It can also be described as “a process of identifying, understanding and breaking down barriers to participation and belonging” pg 312 as above.
It is important to note that it is the environment that should be adapted rather than trying to fit the child to the environment. This may mean things such as having activities laid out on table tops rather than on the floor, giving extra time for dressing for PE etc. The areas that need to be addressed depend very much on the need of the child. No matter what that need the child has the same rights to be given the same opportunities as a child without needs. In fact most children have needs in some areas and working under every child matters, environments and opportunities should be differentiated for all children so that all can reach their full potential. One example of inclusion would be a child who has a physical need. Rather than simply saying they cannot participate in PE, they may need extra time to dress/undress. It is important to allow the child to do as much for themselves as they possibly can. If they require help they should be asked if they want help first. Also the activity itself should be looked at. If it is a ball game can it be adapted to include the child. A child that is not allowed to participate fully as the others can soon become frustrated and segragated from their fellow pupils. This would be following the medical model rather than fully embracing the social model of disability. Allowing children with needs to fully participate also teaches the other children a valuable lesson of acceptance of difference and tolerance. It aids to promote acceptance in the school community as a whole. Often when looking at inclusion it can be the views and attitudes of the adults that can be the actual barrier to inclusion. The child involved may be capable of far more than the adult believes if they were given the chance to do so. It is important wherever possible to include the child in whatever the class is involved in rather than taking them away for specific individual work. Before long a well meaning adult can take the child away from many activities they are fully capable of taking away their right to inclusion in that task.
The relationship between parent and setting cannot be underestimated. At the end of the day parents are the ones who know the child best and are therefore in the best position to say what is best for the child. They are the experts on their own child regardless of their need or disability. They can provide insight into how the child behaves at home and also if there have been any changes in the child they can often provide answers as to why this may be. The relationship between setting and parent can often be difficult and views can vary significantly as to what is best for the child. However the relationship should be one of compromise and trust.
Again working closely with parents and involving them in all decision making processes is key and in fact necessary to adhere to the SEN code of conduct. It is not always an easy relationship to maintain in a positive way but it is crucial to do this. Parents may be upset and angry and may not wish their child to be labelled. In some circumstances they may deny that their child has any needs and wish them to be treated in exactly the same way as the other children when this may not always be suitable or possible. Parents may suffer disabilities themselves and this must be taken into consideration when working closely with parents.
Not only is the relationship with parents key to providing the best environment for the child but also good clear relationships with other professionals is key. This may take the form of speech and language experts, educational psychologists, health workers, social workers. It is imperative that this relationship is both clear and a two way relationship for the benefit of the child. In many instance the setting may simply not have the expertise as to what is best for the child and the professionals eg speech and language can offer valuable resource and knowledge.
Practitioners must wherever possible strive to adapt their environment to meet the needs of the child with disabilities. This does very much depend upon what those specific needs are. For example if the child has a visual impairment care must be taken to remove any tripping hazards. Also if changes to the environment are made the child should be made aware of them. Specific instruction should be given if for example the room has to be evacuated quickly does the child knows the procedure to follow? Any areas that the child has to frequent regularly should be easily assessable to the child for example their coat peg should be at the end of the row, their lunch box easy to access. The other children within the class should be taught to be aware of the room, chairs should be tucked in, toys should be removed from the floor. When considering the child’s needs for example with reading the work do paper actvitities need to be enlarged/ coloured in a specific way? Depending on the severity of the need can books be made available in Braille, can audio books be used? The toys and games of the classroom should be looked at, is there a requirement for electronic speaking toys. Any items used should be made part of the normal day for all children where possible to avoid any kind of segregation. The teacher should be aware to verbalise any key activities such as playtimes, lunchtimes etc. All the children in the class should be encouraged to use some of the aids to promote empathy and regard within the class and also to normalise any intervention material. For example visual aids could be used by all the children in certain lessons. Any equipment needed to support the child should be purchased and this is where it may be beneficial to apply the expertise of the experts. For example a practioners initial reaction may be to say the child should be given alternative activities during PE sessions. However this may not need to be the case as with appropriate equipment such as balls that make a noise, they could fully participate along with their peers.
Often it is the views and beliefs of the people involved in the teaching of the child that have to be changed and certainly not the child themselves. With a little creativity most daily activities can be adapted and differentiated to meet the varying and sometimes challenging needs of children.
Therefore to conclude, there are many acts that govern how children with needs are educated and with careful consideration of both parents and the child these can be successfully followed. Through inclusive practice and good communication the needs of the child and wishes of the parent can be successfully met.
Burnham Louise, (2008), The Teaching Assistants Handbook, Essex, Heinemann.
Beith Kate (2008), Children’s care learning and Development, Essex, Heinemann.
Special Educational Needs code of Practise:,
Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities:  

The Field of Special Education

What is the need for special education?
In the 2015-2016 school year, there were 6.7 million children with disabilities in school in the United States(U.S.), accounting for 13.2 percent of all students attending schools(Heasley, 2018). Increases in special education numbers are not necessarily adverse effects, but rather systems put in place to identify and support students with disabilities. There are laws put in place that identify what special education and procedures to follow that confirms a moral quality education for everyone.
Historical Background
In 1965, the Elementry and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was established and addressed funding and services to states for students with disabilities(Friend, 2018).  Based on the civil right of every person, the  ESA approved allowances to serve low-income districts, textbooks special education centers, and scholarships for less fortunate college students. The most rewarding section of the ESEA was improving the quality of the schools. ESEA positioned the framework for the Education of the Handicapped Act (EHCA).

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In 1975, ESEA was amended and was changed to the  EHCA. EHCA  is known as the basis for following special education measures(Friend, 2018). The new law focused on court cases, identifying children that need assistance, and implementing rules and regulations for schools to follow. Some of the principles of  EHCA are still intact and are essential to the current-day special education law in today’s society, known as the Individuals with Disabilities Act(IDEA). In  1990 the ECHA was amended to the IDEA, this law aims to make sure that children with disabilities have access to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE)  that will prepare them for continuing education, future employment as well as the means and skills to live independently.  The purpose of IDEA is to direct states and agencies in delivering the early intervention, special education, and associated services to qualified infants, toddlers, children, and youth with disabilities(U.S. Department of Education, n.d.). Research had reported that before this law that over 4 million children with disabilities were deprived of suitable access to FAPE  (American Psychological Association [APA], 2020, para. 1).  The most recent amendment took place in 1997 and  2004, where additional amendments were approved equal access to FAPE. The requirement is that schools must have supports and resources accessible that accommodate all children, regardless of disability status.  The name “special education ” is somewhat a new idea; however, students with disabilities; existed in every period of humanity. 
Although there are several contributors to the field of special education, one of the earliest known documented contributors is Dr. Jean-Marc-Gaspard Itard, who in the 1800s successfully educated a child with behavioral issues. Another prominent incidence of special education is when Anne Sullivan Macy educated  Helen Keller reading and communication skills. As the world progress in the 19th century, so did the values of assistance and support for special needs, such as mental hospitals, reform schools, and institutions’ for mental retardation (Special Education News, 2020). Finally, John F. Kennedy, during the civil rights movements of the 1960s, granted access to children with disabilities creating the Handicapped Children Ac(Special Education News, 2020).
Laws and Rights of IDEA
As mentioned in the previous paragraphs, the IDEA recognizes and supports special education and services for children and youth with disabilities(University of Washington [UW], 2020). The basis is constructed on ensuring FAPE in the least restrictive environment(LRE) as possible. Secondly, it ensures the identified special needs children receive services related to their individual needs as well as preparedness for independent living and employment. Thirdly, it ensures the rights of the parent and special needs are protected by law. These procedural safeguards give parents the status that is needed for input in their child’s Individualized Education Program(IEP), including” stay put” requirements.  Fourth, ensuring services have quality and quantity in supporting individuals with disabilities. Finally, provide funding/assistance to support individuals with disabilities to the state,  federal, and educational agencies.
Additionally, IDEA has a” child find” system that schools are required to evaluate students suspected of disability and provide them with special education and service supports. IDEA includes children age 3 through high school up to age 21 as well as early intervention programs up to age 3.
In conclusion,  special education children have to right to be in either a mainstream or inclusive classrooms depending on the level of disability and IEPs set in place, not just for the sake of IDEA law, but rather to encourage and challenge students with disabilities, increase, social skills and encourage diversity encountered in society. The best classroom environment is the best setting that supports children to achieve their goals. Teachers, parents, and school systems need to collaborate on accurately evaluate the learning environments that actively reflect children’s needs. IEPs should be reassessed occasionally to confirm that the children’s needs have improved or not.

American Psychological Association. (2020). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Retrieved from Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)
Friend, M. (2018). Special Education (5 ed.). New York: Pearson.
Heasley, S. (2018). Special Education Enrollment Trends Upward. Retrieved from
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University of Washington. (2020). What is the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act? Retrieved from
U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). About IDEA. Retrieved from