Special Needs Education

The main goal of special needs education is to promote good conditions for learning and growing up for children, youths, and adults with special needs.

The term special needs covers people with a reduced functional ability or disability. People with a reduced functional ability is used to refer to individual aspects of a person, like damage or deviations in the body's psychological, physiological or biological functions. This covers people with impaired hearing or vision, people with language difficulties, physical disabilities or people with different behavioural difficulties.

Special needs perspectives

Being disabled is more of a description of the relationship between people's individual aptitudes and the design of the surroundings or functional requirements in different areas. There has been a greater focus on the latter perspective during recent years. Increasing attention has been directed to society's responsibility for adapting offerings to all people, regardless of skills or aptitudes.

In special needs, the focus is often on individuals, as the goal is to adapt conditions, based on a person's special needs. Such a starting-point can easily lead to individuals being placed in specific categories. This is a dilemma in the field of special needs education. On the one hand, we want to identify special needs precisely in order to adapt the environment in which children grow up as best possible. On the other hand, it is a fact that by doing this, we are at risk of contributing to unnecessary stigmatization and discussion.

Social perspective

The field of special needs education has seen strong growth, from its origins in 1960 until the present. At first, the field focused on individual needs and diagnostics, and was often criticized for being based on a model of medical understanding. Within such a model, disability, learning difficulties and other functional difficulties are seen as a defect or a problem on the part of the individual. Special needs education has seen change in recent years, and far greater focus is now placed on viewing disability from a social perspective. When the offerings are inadequate and do not meet the special needs of individuals, many people will not be provided for, and will be defined as disabled.

Special needs education has moved from a view characterized by individual problem orientation and diagnostics to a far more contextual and relational 'enrichment perspective'. In school terminology, this means a right to adapted teaching in an inclusive school. However, special needs education must always focus particularly on how actions and social institutions for children who have no provisions in the community work in practice. An academic breadth must be developed through education and research, for use in both a here-and-now perspective, as well as in a preventive perspective.

Research groups

  • Child Language & Learning (CLL)
  • Learning, mastery and quality of life for children at risk
  • Quality improvement of inclusive and adapted education: curriculum planning, the teacher's role and the role of school managers
  • Knowledge generation in the practice field of special needs education (KiSP)
  • Disruptive behavior in schools
  • International Adoption and Migration: learning, identity and competence 

Related studies

Published Mar. 8, 2013 8:40 AM - Last modified July 6, 2017 2:24 PM