Students with disabilities once learned in special education classes. These classes were taught by educators specifically trained to work with children with various physical, emotional, and learning impairments. Now, as schools embrace inclusion, general education teachers find they need assistance in accommodating many of these students in their classes. An inclusion specialist does just that, along with performing other duties.
The Roles and Duties of an Inclusion Specialist
In education, an inclusion specialist is a certified teacher who has specialized knowledge of the current principles and techniques of educating students with significant disabilities in general education classrooms. This specialist not only provides support to students in inclusion programs, but also assists general education teachers and paraeducators to ensure that students have chances to succeed in the classroom. In addition, a specialist effectively communicates with parents concerning all aspects of their child’s educational program. Specialists possess extensive knowledge of disabilities, from mild or moderate to severe, and have experience supporting students with a wide range of educational and support needs.
An inclusion specialist uses knowledge of federal and state mandates to assist students who require special education services. She also has experience related to the development and implementation of an Individual Education Plan (IEP). In developing an IEP, she must be in compliance with legalities while setting appropriate timelines for improvements in students to occur. Inclusion specialists regularly coordinate and participate in IEP meetings with teachers, parents, psychologists, physical, occupational, and speech therapists,and other special education professionals.
To give students with disabilities access to curriculum in the general education classroom, an inclusion specialist develops accommodations and modifications. These accommodations and modifications can include working with teachers in adapting instructional methods and assignments, and training and supervising paraeducators in assisting students with disabilities. Specialists work with students, too, in using assistive technology to enable learning and increase independence.
With the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) on the rise, an inclusion specialist must have knowledge of the best practices, methods and techniques in supporting children with ASD in the general classroom. An inclusion specialist’s responsibilities include providing teacher training on autism and practices related to the full inclusion of students with developmental disabilities. They also collaborate with general education teachers to provide modifications and accommodations in instruction and assignments to students with ASD. Paraeducators are often trained and supervised by these specialists to give individual assistance to students on the autism spectrum. Specialists also work with teachers, paraeducators, and students to create and implement appropriate behavioral support plans. Finally, to help students with ASD develop and practice social skills, inclusion specialists facilitate interactions and encourage relationships between these students and their typical classmates.
An inclusion specialist regularly attends special education meetings and consults with other professionals to continuously implement the best inclusion practices for students with a range of disabilities. She fulfills many duties in assisting teachers, paraeducators, students with disabilities and their peers, and parents to ensure inclusion is successfully implemented in general education.
- Menlo Park City Elementary Inclusion Specialist. (2009). www.edjoin.org/jobDescription.aspx?descriptionID=40790