• Special Education: Choosing The Right School Or Program For Your Child

    Once you have confirmation that your child needs special education, it can feel overwhelming to decide where to send your child to school. Special Education expert, Frances Magtoto, sheds light on how to handle this.

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    Your child has been referred to a specialist because of certain behaviour and unusual developmental growth. The specialist confirms it...your child has special needs.  With the diagnostic report in hand, you are ready for the next step.  But where do you start?  What are you to do now? You may want to seek the advice of a Special Education Specialist.

     

    What To Look For In A SPED Specialist
    Special education (SPED) as defined in our Education Act of 1982, is the education of children deemed to be different in physical, mental, emotional, social or cultural aspects than normally developing individuals; thus requiring a modification in school practices and services for them to attain their full potential. Like your developmental paediatrician, the SPED Specialist has earned certain qualifications in order to be in a position to give advice on educational placement.  He must:

    1. have a master’s or a doctorate degree in SPED;
    2. be aware of the different programs available in your locale; and
    3. know how to help you distinguish the best educational placement for your child. 

    In tandem with a team of professionals offering services that your child may need, your child is bound to get the appropriate intervention.

    There are several educational placements or types of schooling that you can consider:

    School Types and Education Goals

    Descriptions Based on  the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS)1986

    Integration / Mainstreaming

    Enrolment in a regular school with additional teaching/care resources in varying degrees of integration: partial integration pertains to inclusion in non-academic activities like work education, physical education, arts, or school programs, whereas, full integration (sometimes called “zero reject model”) refers to involvement in all subjects, academic and non-academic.

    Resource Room Plan

    Enrolment in a regular school but goes to this room to use specialized equipment either in a tutorial situation or small group.

    Itinerant Teacher Plan

    Direct and consultative services are given to children through an itinerant or travelling teacher.

    Cooperative Class Plan

    The part-time special class plan where a child is based in a SPED class but get some of his academic instruction in the regular grades in varying degrees.

    Special Class Plan

    Also known as the self-contained or segregated plan where students of one type of exceptionality (such as hearing impairment or visual impairment) are enrolled in a special class.

    SPED Center

    An organized body in a regular school that holds classes for children with special needs. Itinerant, resource room services, special and cooperative classes can be present here, depending upon the population and affluence of the community.

    Special Day School

    Serves specific types of children with moderate to severe disabilities, therefore housing a range of trained special educators, and a comprehensive array of medical, psychological and social services.

    Residential School

    Placement in a residential school is based on the premise that the student can make greater progress in such a setting than any other. SPED services are qualitatively and quantitatively superior, and they also offer comprehensive diagnostic and counseling services, and vocational and recreational services.

    Hospital Instruction

    A provision for children confined in hospitals, sanatoria, and convalescent homes in the form of bedside tutoring and group instruction.

    Homebound Instruction

    A service provided by either a full time itinerant teacher who instructs each pupil in his own home about three times a week, or the regular class teacher who instructs temporarily homebound pupils.

    Community-Based Delivery System

    Usually for students with special needs who reside in distant communities and cannot avail of existing SPED programs.  Teachers, para-teachers or volunteers trained to teach the basic 3R’s and self-help activities to prepare them for useful and independent living.

    There is no “best school”, no ideal student and teacher, and no perfect parents. In education, there can only be an attempt at a good match based on certain factors. All stakeholders in your child’s education should be taken into consideration. In the Philippines, even the wants and needs of the extended family carry weight in our decisions. But before considering them, you, as a parent, must work through your feelings and thoughts about your child’s diagnosis.  Choosing the right school or educational program for your child is possible when you are clear on what is to be achieved. 

     

    About The Author:
    Frances Mijares-Magtoto has a Master’s Degree in Education from Ateneo de Manila University and is a candidate for a Ph.D. at U.P. Diliman.On days when she is not with her husband and toddler, she can be found at the Graduate School of St. Joseph’s College teaching Special Education majors, or at UP finishing her dissertation.

     

    Photography by Jun Pinzon

     

    SOURCES:

    • Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports (MECS). (1986)  Article V and Article VI, Section 1.2, Policies and Guidelines for Special Education. MECS is now known as the Department of Education through R.A. 9155 in 2001.
    • Education Act. (1982) Chapter 2, Section 24.2 of Batas Pambansa Blg. 232: An act providing for the establishment of an integrated system of education.
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