Education of a disabled child

One of the key factors in ensuring a fulfilling life to a child with a disability or special needs is education. The best results are achieved through collaboration between the social sector, the health sector, and the family. Involvement, direct communication, and setting common goals can help all parties make a substantial difference. The Estonian education system is founded on the principle of inclusive education, which means that education must be equally accessible to everyone according to their abilities and needs – including children with the most severe disabilities. Inclusive education also requires that all children, regardless of their special needs, generally attend the school of their residence and receive the necessary help and support through adjustments.

Special needs manifested at preschool age are called special developmental needs, while those manifested at school age are known as special educational needs. A student with special educational needs is a student whose special needs necessitate changes or adjustments in the content, process, duration, workload, environment, or other aspects of learning. In such cases, achieving the desired learning outcomes requires creating additional support measures or implementing special study arrangements. A child with special needs in kindergarten or school may need special teaching aids, customised classrooms, a small staff, a sign language interpreter, support workers, or specially trained teachers. It is a common misunderstanding that ‘learner with special needs’ can only refer to a young person with a disability. However, it may also mean a child suffering from a chronic illness, such as diabetes, who generally has no problems in a standard school setting, but who may need accommodations in certain situations. Although the term does, of course, additionally encompass learners with severe mobility, visual, or hearing disabilities. With the right teaching aids, methods, and environment, severely disabled youth can also learn successfully at a regular school. Unfortunately, not all schools are able to provide adequate and appropriate education for all young people with disabilities. In the case of more complex problems and diagnoses (e.g., intellectual disabilities or multiple disabilities), the student will not be able to cope in a regular school and learning environment – such children are educated at specialised state schools, as well as specialised municipal or private schools. These schools employ teachers with special training and experience and possess the necessary study materials. As a parent, it is important to properly assess your child’s abilities, which also means not over- or underestimating them; and sometimes parents must come to terms with the fact that a regular school may not be the best option for their child’s development.

Illustratsioon: kaks koolikottidega last vestlemas.