A special career

A special needs student being taught by a male teacher

Special Education is the branch of education which uses special instructional methodology (Remedial Instruction), instructional materials, learning-teaching aids and equipment to meet educational needs of children with specific learning disabilities.

What’s this career about?

Special educators are trained in providing care and education to children with intellectual impairment, cerebral palsy, physical disabilities, auditory impairment, autism, behavioural and learning disorders. They help children optimise their strengths and minimise their limitations.

They first study the strengths and limitations of individual students and plan a unique curriculum for each of them. Based on the disability of the students, they teach them sign language, lip reading, motor skills and likewise, one-on-one or in a group set-up. They use play methods and audio-visual material to stimulate interest in learning. Often, they experiment with different types of teaching techniques to identify the one that suits a particular child. Sometimes, they even develop new techniques to help the child.

A special needs child playing with his teacher

Special education teachers work primarily with students with three major segments of disabilities, namely, Learning Disability (LD), Mental Retardation (MR) or Intellectual Disability (ID) and Visual Impairment (VI). The teachers dealing with students with mental retardation or autism tend to teach them life-skills and basic literacy. The teachers dealing with Visual Impairment or any other physical disabilities primarily teach the students to overcome their disabilities and lead normal lives. And the teachers dealing with students with Learning Disability use general education curriculum and modify it to meet the students’ individual needs.

Their role extends to encouraging the family and community to reduce barriers in the way of the child’s effort to live life independently. Special educators work hand-in-hand with other teachers, social workers, social psychologists, occupational and physical therapists, and school administrators to ensure the well-being of their students.

This is a passion-driven profession and one should not expect quick results. Patience and compassion are, therefore, a prerequisite.


  • How do I get there?
  • Key skills
  • Institutes
  • Employment prospects and pay packages
  • Hot locations

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Dr Vibha Gupta
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Dr Vibha Gupta

Dr Vibha Gupta is a Ph.D. in Mathematics from IIT Roorkee. A feature writer, her book Careers: A Pathfinder and articles in various publications attempt to guide students in choosing a career according to their natural strengths, talents and skills.