Speechlanguage problems 463

such services. About 85 percent of these children were between the ages of six and 17.

Special equipment is used extensively with students who have problems with vision or hearing. Such equipment might include computers to convert printed materials into synthetic speech. Special desks, chairs, writing devices, and school buses may help students with physical handicaps. Special ramps and wide doors, swimming pools, and schoolrooms specially equipped with hearing aid transmitting equipment are all part of special education.

Special services for exceptional individuals include speech training, physical and occupational therapies, counseling, and vocational training for students with mental retardation. The most common elements of special education are the specialized instructional techniques, such as:

• sign language

• programmed instruction procedures designed to present information in small steps

• behavior modification techniques such as token economies while most special education takes place in regular public schools, some classes are provided in special public or private day or residential schools, public or private hospitals, and, in some cases, the homes of individuals whose disabilities prevent them from attending school. Most individuals with disabilities do not require an entire program of services apart from conventional instruction but rather only a modification of features.

when children are considered able to benefit from participation with other children, they are usually taught in the normal school program. This process, known as mainstreaming, was believed to be consistent with the legal mandate for education in the least-restrictive environment. More than two-thirds of students with disabilities receive most of their education in regular education classes.

If a child's handicap is not severe, a special education teacher works with the regular classroom teacher to develop skills. In other cases, an assistant teacher may be able to care for a student's specific needs. For individuals with more serious problems, special education may be provided in a separate classroom for part of the school day; stu dents with severe learning and behavioral problems may remain in a separate special education room all day. The ratio of students to teachers is usually much lower in a special education classroom than in an ordinary classroom.

With the development of assistive technologies, the field of special education continues to evolve, although its goal remains the same as it was from the beginning—to educate and integrate individuals with disabilities into society.

speech-language problems A problem or delay in verbal, gestural, or speaking skills including articulation (pronunciation), voice quality, fluency, or language that interferes with learning, social adjustment, or communication. Some problem with speech affects one out of every 10 American children.

Cause

Hearing problems, low intelligence, or lack of verbal stimulation at home all may interfere with the development of speech. Children with older siblings or one child in a set of twins may not talk because others talk for them.

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