Reading programs for special education
Innovative approaches in special ed yield big results.It started with a simple question.
What do you want to be able to do?
The results are anything but simple. Special educator Linda Bidabe took those answers and began changing the lives of children and adults battling to learn – or relearn – basic skills. Her goal-specific approach to special education and physical learning bypassed the standardized skill building protocol, and gave her students goals they chose…and achieved. Not just walking, but walking to the bathroom alone. Not just grasping objects, but getting something from the kitchen.
When standard OT tools and pediatric occupational therapy supplies didn't meet her students' needs, she constructed makeshift ones from household items like duct tape and broom sticks (a manufacturer of pediatric and adult OT/PT supplies now makes supplies based on Bidabe's designs). The organization called MOVE (Mobility Opportunities Via Education) was born, and with it, lives were changed.
Another innovator created a new approach to reading programs for special education kindergartners. She starts the school year with a series of in-school field trips, visiting the library, nurse's office, custodian and other areas of the school. She then takes pictures of those visits and creates an album for the classroom. Words and pictures in the album work together to help students orient to their new school, and learn words connected to those places.
Other teachers have bypassed school board issued textbooks and materials in favor of nontraditional education supplies like comic books, cooking tools, pets and household objects, creating reading programs for special education students that focus on student directed goals, much like Linda Bidabe's movement program.
In these days of shrinking special education budgets and increasing special needs populations, innovators like these are putting aside the methods of traditional structured OT and special educations programs, and creating new, effective, and often far less expensive approaches to age-old problems. Some traditional therapists question these unorthodox methods. But according to Bidabe:
"The best treatment method is the one that makes a positive, functional difference in the life of the student..."
Even if that means starting with very simple questions, some duct tape and a broom stick.