What is Specially Designed Instruction in Special Education?

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) is a term used in special education that refers to the individualized instruction and supports that are designed to meet the unique needs of students with disabilities.

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Introduction

Specially Designed Instruction (SDI) is defined as “adaptations or changes to the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a student with a disability so that the student can benefit from the general education curriculum” (NICHCY, n.d.). In other words, SDI is an individualized approach to teaching that takes into account the specific learning needs of a student with a disability.

What is Special Education?

Special education is instruction that is specifically designed to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines a student with a disability as someone who has been evaluated as having an intellectual disability, emotional disturbance, hearing loss, speech or language impairment, visual impairment (including blindness), orthopedic impairment, autism, traumatic brain injury, other health impairments, or specific learning disabilities.

IDEA requires that students with disabilities be provided with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). This means that special education and related services must be available to eligible students at no cost to their families. Special education services are individualized and based on the student’s strengths and needs. They are designed to help the student learn and make progress in school.

Related services are supportive services that are required for the student to benefit from their special education program. Related services can include counseling, physical and occupational therapy, speech-language therapy, transportation, etc.

Specially designed instruction (SDI) is an important part of every student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). SDI is defined as “adjustments to the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction…made to address the unique needs of a child with a disability…” In other words, SDI is any modification or change that is made to the way instruction is delivered in order to help a student learn more effectively. For example, a student who has difficulty reading may receive SDI in the form of books on tape or digital text. A student who has difficulty understanding concepts may receive SDI in the form of concrete objects or pictures. The possibilities for SDI are endless and are limited only by the creativity of the educators working with the student!

What is an Individualized Education Program (IEP)?

An Individualized Education Program, or IEP, is a legal document that contains specific information about a student with a disability. The purpose of the IEP is to ensure that the student receives an appropriate education that meets their individual needs.

The IEP team, which includes the student’s parents, teachers, and other school staff, develops the IEP. The IEP team uses information from assessments and observations to identify the student’s strengths and areas of need. This information is used to develop goals and objectives for the student’s individualized education program.

The IEP must be reviewed and updated at least once per year.

What is a 504 Plan?

A 504 plan is a legal document that outlines the accommodations and supports a student with a disability needs in order to have equal access to an education.

The 504 plan is named after Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. This federal law prohibits discrimination against people with disabilities in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

In order to qualify for a 504 plan, a student must have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. This can include, but is not limited to, conditions such as ADHD, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorder, chronic health conditions, and learning disabilities.

A 504 plan is created by a team of people who know the student best, including parents/guardians, teachers, school counselors, and medical professionals. This team meets to discuss the student’s needs and develop an individualized plan.

The accommodations and supports outlined in a 504 plan can vary depending on the needs of the student. Some common accommodations include extended time on tests and assignments, use of assistive technology, preferential seating, and modifications to the curriculum.

What is Specially Designed Instruction?

Specially designed instruction (SDI) is defined as “adapting the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction to address the unique needs of a student with a disability so as to ensure access to the general curriculum, while maintaining high achievement standards and alignment with the goals and objectives of the general curriculum” (IDEA, 2004, p. 34).

What are the Goals of Specially Designed Instruction?

The goals of specially designed instruction are to ensure that students with disabilities have access to the general curriculum, are able to participate in all educational activities, and make progress in the development of skills and knowledge.

What are the Characteristics of Specially Designed Instruction?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines specially designed instruction as, “adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part…the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction” (20 U.S.C. 1401(29)). In order to be considered specially designed instruction, the adaptations made to content, methodology, or delivery of instruction must be made to address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability and which impede the child’s learning.

There are four key characteristics of specially designed instruction:

1. Specially designed instruction is individualized: It is based on an evaluation of the strengths and needs of the individual child and is designed to meet those specific needs.

2. Specially designed instruction is differentiated: It takes into account the different ways that children with disabilities learn and adapts instruction accordingly.

3. Specially designed instruction is accessible: It ensures that all children have equal access to the curriculum by making necessary accommodations and modifications.

4. Specially designed instruction is comprehensive: It addresses all areas of the child’s development—academic, social-emotional, behavioral, and physical—in order to support the child’s progress in school and in life.

What are the Types of Specially Designed Instruction?

The answer to this question depends on who you ask, as the term “specially designed instruction” (SDI) is relatively new and not yet standardized. However, most agree that SDI refers to any type of instruction that is specifically tailored to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability. This might involve modifying the content, pace, or delivery of instruction to better meet the needs of the student.

There are many different types of specially designed instruction, but some common examples include:

-Individualized education programs (IEPs): IEPs are specifically designed instructional programs that are created for students with disabilities who need extra support in order to learn. IEPs are required by law in the United States and must be reviewed and updated yearly.

-Universal design for learning (UDL): UDL is a framework for designing instructional materials and environments that are accessible to all learners. This approach can be used in both general and special education settings.

-Differentiated instruction: Differentiated instruction is a teaching approach that involves modifying lessons and materials to meet the needs of individual students. This might involve providing different levels of support, using different instructional strategies, or using different assessment methods.

-Response to intervention (RTI): RTI is an approach to identifying and supporting students who are struggling academically. It involves providing additional instructional support before students are referred for special education services.

Conclusion

Specially designed instruction (SDI) is defined as adaptations to the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction that are based on the student’s IEP. This includes accommodations and modifications.

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