If your child has a qualifying disability, you should consider how special education can aid them through their studies. Depending on your child’s condition, he or she may have different options when it comes to where and how this aid is delivered.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) gives each student the right to a free and appropriate public education within the least restrictive environment that can serve to meet the child’s needs. Read on to learn more about what type of environment options this leaves children with a disability.

Evaluating your child’s needs

To enter special education, your child will be evaluated by the school’s education program team. This will determine what kind of help your child needs to reach their full potential as well as which settings are most appropriate to give that help.

The ideal setting for your child may change depending on course material. For example, a student with mobility limitations may be able to take most courses in their regular integrated setting. However, a resource program can be used to help the child satisfy his or her physical education requirement.

Resource programs

A resource program differs from a self-contained, full-time special education program because it usually requires pulling students out from their regular classroom to receive specialized instruction. This is typical for students who are learning to overcome a speech impediment or practicing ways to manage dyslexia.

These resource programs are usually meant to overcome short-term hurdles and aren’t required for the entire duration of the child’s education.


A self-contained special education program typically lasts all day and combines children with similar special needs into one classroom together throughout the school year. For some students, this can be a big help in bringing them the individualized attention they need.

These programs are very typical for children with an intellectual disability. However, in some cases, this setting may change. For example, the student may be better able to practice behavioral skills in a segregated setting. However, certain subject matter, such as art class, may be useful to the student in its regular integrated setting if a special education aid accompanies the student.

Supplemental aid

Children with hearing, seeing or mobility issues are able to keep up with other students in the class, with a little extra help. This is when a special education aid may be useful. These professionals can help take tests for students, guide them in between classes and help them communicate with other students.

These aids may become more or less necessary depending on coursework, schedule changes and the child’s preference.

Each child has a right to an education setting that is least restrictive to their needs. Learn more about your child’s rights as well as what to do when he or she isn’t getting the attention they need to succeed in school.

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