Extra services? Are they necessary?

Written by Amber Potter

In a classroom is a little town in Oregon, some students are yelling at their teacher, some are trying to hit and others aren’t talking at all. For teachers and instructional assistants working in the special education classroom, this is a normal day.

Kristin Schriner is a special education teacher in a Developmental Learning Center, or DLC classroom in Roseburg, Oregon. She strives to provide academic success in many aspects of a child’s life in grades Kindergarten through fifth grade.

Schriner takes the needs of each student into consideration when considering different tools to use to better serve the children. This could include sensory items like playdoh, sensory boxes and therapy balls or visual supports like token charts, first/then cards and task analysis strips. Schriner also encourages open communication between herself and the families of the students. This allows for a better knowledge of the families’ concerns for their child and their education, which in turn, allows the teachers and instructional assistants to better serve the child.
While the main communication to the student comes from the special education teacher, each child has a team of people to support their education. This team generally consists of the special education teacher, the child’s general education teacher, an administrator, the parent or guardian and, depending on the needs of the child, specialists might be part of the team as well. According to Schriner, these specialists can include “physical therapist, occupational therapist, autism consultant, school psychologist, behavior specialist, child development specialist, child advocate, Community Living Case Management (CLCM) caseworker, Connect the Dots representative, cocoon nurse, tribal representative, child’s attorney, child welfare caseworker and school nurse.”
Children in special education programs have an Individualized Education Plan, or IEP, to help better serve them in their education. This IEP outlines the child’s needs, goals, and strengths. It also allows everyone in the child’s team to see the progress they are making and where improvements can still be made. A child’s IEP is essential in help them achieve any goals they might have while also notifying team members of any accommodations that might be needed to help the child succeed.
When interacting with these kids, it is important to treat them with kindness and respect, as one would with any child. According to Schriner, “The most important thing to remember about these children is that they are capable and have the potential to learn and thrive in the community.” Anyone wanting to further support these children can do so by coordinating volunteer hours with the lead teacher or administrator. While these children have more intense needs than the average child, they are also students in need of learning.

  1. Hi Amber!

    Disability accessibility is such an important topic. So many individuals think that the disabled have the same rights and accessibility as their able counterparts simply because of the existence of the ADA (which wasn’t even introduced until 1990). The sad truth is, students need so much extra support to navigate education when they are disabled. There have been amazing strides in educational access for children with disabilities, but there’s a long way to go and this blog can help show why access is so important for equity. Slam dunk of a subject!

    I’d love to see some more media elements, such as photos of accessible elements in Schriner’s room. Showing what these items do to help kids navigate education with a disability can explain why they are so necessary!

    You also may want to consider the accessibility of your page for individuals with disabilities. The scroll bar at the top “in a classroom…” is very difficult for screen readers, which bars accessibility for a portion of the population you are hoping ot reach. The color scheme may also be difficult for those with visual disabilities to read as well. Just a few things to consider when creating a blog about disabilities!

    There are websites where you can plug the color codes of your blog in and it will tell you if the color combinations are ADA compliant, just google “ADA color checker” for some results; or consider just using a white background with black text; it is the most accessible! There are lots of blogs about blogging with disabilities, I’d also suggest checking some of those out. Life of a Blind Girl has a great post about making your blog more accessible to the blind community.

    Thank you for covering such an important piece of news, we need more people writing about disabilities to help break the stigmas!



  2. Hello!
    I like that your post brought up the importance of the teams behind the students and how essential IEPs are! I feel like the teams that work with students are often overlooked, or people don’t realize that not just the teachers support the students.

    As a reader, I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue on my end or something you can adjust, but the first sentence seems essential, but it was a tad bit annoying having to scroll to read a sentence!

    Overall, great job on your post!


  3. Great blog on the different dynamics surrounding a child with special needs. Knowing how each child is unique and has their own preference of learning tools makes such a difference. I have a nephew who has special needs and it’s been encouraging to see how much his school communicates and works to get his needs met. Some people may think all that is needed is educational, yet emotional, mental and physical matter as well. What may be not an issue to one student, could trigger him and he could spiral out emotionally. It is having faculty and teachers around him, who know and believe he is also worthy of an education that change his life daily. I appreciate you also bringing in the knowledge of a professional, who can confirm fact based on their expertise.


  4. I love this topic! There are times when people who encounter these children and do not look at them the same as other children when they should!
    -Ryan Santos


  5. Hi Amber,

    Nice blog. I really like the content that you wrote. It seems as though being a special education teacher would be quite difficult. I had an IEP growing up so I related to portions of it. This may just be on my computer, but it looks as though you added some sort of multimedia thing just below “written by Amber Potter” but it just shows up as text on a scroll bar for me. Perhaps the issue is on my end. However, I would definitely add photos and break up the paragraphs a bit. I find that text that has clear breaks between paragraphs is much easier to read and understand. Adding more tags would help people find your blog too. Overall, nice work.



  6. Hi Amber,

    This is a good post to introduce IEPs, teams, and learning devices. I think so many people refuse to learn about these things because it’s different from what people deem as “normal” so they don’t accept it. As you mentioned these kids deserve to learn too and we can’t force them to learn in ways that don’t work for them, we have to adapt and there should be nothing wrong with that. Everybody deserves the opportunity to learn.


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