In the state of Virginia, I am licensed to teach students with emotional disturbances and learning disabilities. I have taught students who are diagnosed with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, gifted, ADHD, and what was formerly known as Asperger's. These are not all the diagnoses my students have received but a good sampling.
Currently, students who have some type of educational or emotional diagnosis are considered to have special needs. As an adult with special needs, something about this phrase bothers me. In my experience, everyone has special needs. I have never met anyone who was not different from the "norm" in some way.
I'm fairly certain normal is a mythical creature. I do not know any normal people. If you do, please introduce me. Despite the under-representation (non-existence?) of normality, many insist that there is a standard method of learning.
On this site, instead of saying special needs, disabilities, or disturbances, I will use the phrase learning differences. My goal as an educator is to understand and accommodate the unique ways that each student learns. Because we're all different. And that's okay.
Shay Malone is a certified teacher (emotional and learning disabilities and middle school mathematics) with a background in psychology. She has worked with children and families for over 15 years in many different capacities. She believes that emotional growth is just as important as academic achievement. Shay is the lead educator at Provision Academy.