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Educating Special Needs Students

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Running Head: Educating Special Needs Students

Educating Special Needs Students
Necandra L. Thompson
SPE 525
Professor Tricia D. Troiano

Abstract:
The purpose of this paper is to define and identify the causes of mental retardation, autism and severe disabilities. In addition, it will discuss the areas of the curriculum which is necessary for students with these severe disabilities.

Mental Retardation is defined, when a person has a certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of themselves and social skills. The cause of mental retardation according to doctors is genetic conditions, in which this is caused by abnormal genes inherited from parents. Some examples of this are genetic conditions of Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome and phenlketonuria (PKU). Mental retardation is not a type of mental illness, there is no cure for it (The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NDCCD), 2004). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines mental retardation as, “significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, which adversely affects a child's educational performance (2004)”. NDCCD identifies mental retardation as “a term used when a person has certain limitations in mental functioning and in skills such as communicating, taking care of him or herself, and social skills. Some of these limitations will cause a child to learn and develop more slowly than a typical child. Children with mental retardation may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating. They are likely to have trouble learning in school. They will learn, but it will take them longer. There may be some things they cannot learn. As mention in the beginning there has been more than 750 causes of mental retardation which has been identified (Heward, 2006)”, some of the most common are:

• “Genetic conditions. Sometimes mental retardation is caused by abnormal genes inherited from parents, errors when genes combine, or other reasons. Examples of genetic conditions are Down syndrome, fragile X syndrome, and phenylketonuria (PKU).

• Problems during pregnancy. Mental retardation can result when the baby does not develop inside the mother properly. For example, there may be a problem with the way the baby's cells divide as it grows. A woman who drinks alcohol or gets an infection like rubella during pregnancy may also have a baby with mental retardation.

• Problems at birth. If a baby has problems during labor and birth, such as not getting enough oxygen, he or she may have mental retardation.

• Health problems. Diseases like whooping cough, the measles, or meningitis can cause mental retardation. Mental retardation can also be caused by extreme malnutrition (not eating right), not getting enough medical care, or by being exposed to poisons like lead or mercury. (NDCCD, 2004) The next term is Autism which this is defined as, “a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills (Autism Society of America (ASA). A researcher has investigated a number of theories, including the link between heredity, genetics and medical problems. While no one gene has been identified as causing autism, in many families there appears to be a pattern of autism or related disabilities, further supporting a genetic basis to the disorder (ASA, n.d.)” In additional there are also investigations as well as the possibility that, under certain conditions, a cluster of unhinged genes may interfere with brain development, resulting in autism. Still other researchers are investigating problems during pregnancy or delivery, as well as environmental factors such as viral infections, metabolic imbalances, and exposure to environmental chemicals (ASA, n.d.)”. “Children with autism are among the most difficult students to teach. They require carefully planned, meticulously delivered, and continually evaluated and analyzed instruction (Heward, 2006).” Final, people with severe disabilities are those who traditionally have been labeled as having severe or profound mental retardation. These people require continuing general support in more than one major life activity in order to participate in an incorporated community settings and enjoy the value of life which is available to people with smaller quantity or no disabilities; they regularly have supplementary disabilities, including movement difficulties, sensory losses and behavior problems. Some of the characteristics for those with severe and multiple disabilities are the following: (Kids Source) 1. Limited speech or communication; 2. Difficulty in basic physical mobility; 3. Tendency to forget skills through disuse; 4. Trouble generalizing skills from one situation to another; and 5. A need for support in major life activities, e.g., domestic, leisure, community use, vocational.

References
Autism Society of America (ASA), n.d. What is Autism? Retrieved September 24, 2008, from the ASA website: http://www.autismsociety.org/site/Pageserver?pagename=whatisautism
Heward, William (Ed.). (2006). Exceptional Children. Upper Saddle Ridge, NJ: Pearson Education.
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), (December, 2004). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Retrieved September 24, 2008, from http://www.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/idea2004.html
Kids Source Online, (April 20, 2000). What Is Early Intervention? Retrieved September 24, 2008, from Kids Source Online Web site: http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/early.intervention.html

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