5 Special Needs


Discussion Prompt: ‘Temple Grandin’ Reflection

Watch the film ‘Temple Grandin’ (2010). Consider the experiences of Temple Grandin at school and through her diagnosis portrayed in the film.  How would these things be different based on specific legislation that is now in place?  Be sure to include specific examples from both the film and laws.


Discussion Prompt: Full Inclusion Discussion

There is a strong national debate regarding whether or not full inclusion, which refers to placing all students with disabilities in a general education classroom all the time, is appropriate or not.  As a future teacher, where you do land on this issue?  How do you feel about full inclusion?  What concerns would you have about incorporating students with disabilities into your classrooms?  What do you think is best for these students?  Why do you think many in the Deaf community would oppose full inclusion?


Written Response: Reflection Paper Topics

  1. It can be difficult for people without disabilities to fully understand the challenges many people with them face on a daily basis. To help you understand this, go to the following website (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/attention.html) and complete the visual or auditory activity relating to attention problems. Then, respond to the following questions. Which activity did you complete? What were your impressions? How would having this type of disability make school challenging? How would this make social relationships challenging? Have you ever experienced a disability first-hand? If so, what was it and what are the major challenges you remember? If not, how do you think this activity changed your perception? Why is it important for teachers to understand the perspectives of students with disabilities?
  2. Most of us take for granted our ability to come and go as we please and have access to any place we wish to go. As you go about your schedule the next couple of days consider the following: How accessible are the places you go to people in wheelchairs, blind, or hearing-impaired? What areas are not available to individuals with disabilities? How would accessibility limit their participation in activities that you regularly participate in? How could these areas be made more accessible to individuals with disabilities?


Accommodation or Modification?

Based on the information presented in class, read the following scenarios and decide whether the situation is describing an accommodation, modification, neither, or both.

  1. Jack has been diagnosed with an auditory processing disorder and has an IEP. His case worker has recommended that his teacher have noise cancelling headphones available for him to wear while working on assignments and taking exams.
  2. Rhonda was recently ill with the flu and missed two weeks of school.  She has arranged for later due dates on class assignments with her teachers to give her additional time to complete her work.
  3. Ramon has a visual impairment that makes it difficult for him to see written text at fonts smaller than 18 point.  His teachers make copies of all class handouts and exams at the larger font so that he will be able read them.
  4. Stephanie is a Type I diabetic.  She needs to keep food with her in class in order to help control her varying blood-sugar levels.  Her teachers need to assure she has the opportunity to eat or drink during class as needed.
  5. Yang has a developmental delay and requires extra assistance on tests. In the past, his teachers have reduced the number of multiple choice options from four to three, and he has had the exams read aloud to him in a separate classroom.
  6. Malika has historically struggled to keep up in her math classes.  Her teacher has another student take notes for her to help give additional academic support as she works.
  7. Joey has downs syndrome and his parents want him to be in as many regular education classes as possible.  In his food and nutrition class, the teacher helps him to learn to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich while other students practice baking cookies.

External Readings & Resources

Blanchett, W. J. (2006). Disproportionate Representation of African American Students in Special Education: Acknowledging the Role of White Privilege and Racism. Educational Researcher, (6). 24.

In this article, Wanda Blanchett describes the intersection of racial and class differences between teachers and students as it impacts special education referrals. Her findings about the disproportionate placement of African American, particularly male, students offer a challenge and call to action to reform current placement policies.

HBO Films (2010), ‘Temple Grandin’

This film is available via HBO Go, Amazon Prime, or DVD purchase.


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Exploring Socio-Cultural Perspectives on Diversity Copyright © by Deanna Cozart is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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