Promoting Development With Online Special Education Certification

Promoting Development With Online Special Education Certification

We all know a child’s most formative years happen between the time they are born and when they turn five. This is the time in their lives when they begin learning how to interact with others and the world around them, increase their language comprehension and body awareness and learn how to respond to new emotions.

However, for children with special needs, these developmental milestones happen much slower, and in some cases, might not happen at all.

That’s why having a special ed certification in the early childhood setting is so important. And that’s why teachers who interact with students who have disabilities should consider an online special education certification to better support and accommodate special needs students in their class.

Now more than ever, the demand for special education teachers is booming. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for special education teachers is expected to grow by eight percent between now and 2030.

So, if you’re looking for a way to grow in your career or a new direction, considering a special ed certification might be a smart route for you to pursue.

The growing need

Because the number of students diagnosed with disabilities is rising, the demand for qualified, trained educators continues to rise as well. That’s why special education certification is now, more than ever, critical to be able to accommodate every student’s learning abilities and pace.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates one in six children between three and 17 has a physical, mental, learning or behavioral disability, and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) found there were 7.3 million (14 percent of all public school students) who received special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 2019–20. Additionally, the NCES reported between 2000 and 2016, the number of students who received special education instruction increased by 400,000.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

The IDEA is the United States’ federal special education law.

Enacted in 1975, the IDEA (formerly known as Education for All Handicapped Children Act), advocates for the well-being of students with disabilities and ensures all children with disabilities are entitled to a free appropriate public education to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.


  • Ensures all children with an identified disability receive special education and related services to address their individual needs;
  • Ensures children with disabilities are prepared for employment and independent living;
  • Ensures the rights of children with disabilities and their families are protected under the law;
  • Assesses and ensures the efforts of institutions providing services to persons with disabilities; and
  • Provides assistance to states, localities, federal agencies, and educational service agencies in providing education to children with disabilities.

It’s important for early childhood educators to understand the IDEA and have the skills necessary to identify the signs of potential special needs in students so they can help accommodate every child. After all, teachers are likely the ones who will refer students for assessment to any number of professionals to determine if they are eligible for assistance, which is another reason you should consider an online special education certification.

Defining disabilities

In order to better understand special education and what a special ed certification means, it’s critical to understand the different types of disabilities you might encounter in the classroom.

There are a number of physical, cognitive, and social-emotional disabilities that are covered under the IDEA. These include autism spectrum disorder, deafblind, deafness and hearing impairment, developmental delay, emotional and behavioral disorders, intellectual disabilities (from mild to severe), orthopedic impairments, specific learning disability, speech-language impairment, traumatic brain injury, visual impairment, and blindness.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

The CDC defines autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. Children with ASD often look like their peers, however, the way they behave and learn is what sets them apart.

According to the NCES, students with ASD account for 11 percent of children served under the IDEA.

If you’re interested in learning more about ASD, CCEI offers the one-hour beginner-level course Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder.  The course introduces teachers to ASD and the characteristics of children who are diagnosed with it. Additionally, the course introduces classroom strategies that support these students.


The IDEA defines this disability as, “[simultaneous] hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.”

Deafness and hearing impairment

Deafness is an inability to comprehend verbal language due to an inability to hear, and hearing impairment, as defined by the IDEA, is “an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.”

Developmental delay

A developmental delay is when a child has not achieved the developmental skills expected of them compared to other children who are the same age. Delays occur in the areas of cognitive, play, motor function, social, and speech and language skills.

Emotional and behavioral disorders

Emotional and behavioral disorders are characterized by an inability to build or maintain relationships with peers and/or teachers; an inability to learn which cannot be adequately explained;  consistent or chronic inappropriate behavior or feelings under normal conditions; pervasive unhappiness or depression; and a tendency to develop physical symptoms or unreasonable fears associated with personal or school problems.

Intellectual disabilities

Sometimes referred to as cognitive disabilities, this term is applied to students who are limited in their mental function and skills, including communication, social and self-care. These limitations cause children to learn and develop more slowly than their peers.

Orthopedic impairments

These are severe impairments caused by birth defects, disease and other causes that adversely affect a child’s school performance. The IDEA category of orthopedic impairments includes a wide variety of disorders that are divided into three main categories – degenerative diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and neuromotor impairments.

Specific learning disabilities

According to the NCES, 33 percent of students who received special education services under IDEA during the 2019–20 school year fell under the category of specific learning disabilities.

A specific learning disability is defined as a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or using spoken or written language that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell or do mathematical calculations.

There are a number of common learning disabilities, including Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, and Dyscalculia.

Speech-language impairment

The IDEA defines speech and language impairments as communication disorders such as stuttering, impaired articulation, a language impairment, or a voice impairment that adversely affects a child’s educational performance.

Behind specific learning disabilities, this is the second-largest reported percentage of students who suffer from a disability.

Traumatic brain injury

Under IDEA, traumatic brain injury is a condition that has been caused by an external physical force that results in total or partial functional disability or psychosocial impairment or both, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance. The term applies to open or closed injuries resulting in one or more areas being impaired, including abstract thinking, attention, cognitive abilities, language, memory, and more.

These injuries change how a person acts, moves, and thinks, and may also affect how a student acts and learns in the classroom.

Visual impairment and blindness

IDEA defines this as a vision impairment that, even with correction, adversely affects a child’s educational performance, and includes both partial sight and blindness.

Why special education certification is important

Early intervention at the infant and toddler stage is critical to helping students with special needs develop the life skills required to prosper.

Possessing a special ed certification will equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to provide specialized instruction to children who suffer from the behavioral, emotional, learning, mental and physical disabilities listed above.

In order to effectively navigate the classroom, meet the needs of those children, and ultimately help set them up for success, teachers interested in special education should explore a training program that gives them a deeper understanding of disabilities, strategies for effectively teaching these students and how to create a more inclusive classroom.

If you’re interested in expanding your professional horizons with an online special education certification, CCEI offers its Special Needs and Inclusive Education Certificate.

The certificate program begins with a basic overview of special needs issues that early childhood educators and professionals may encounter, recommended teaching and guidance practices, and basic requirements and guidelines under federal law.

So what are you waiting for? Click HERE to learn more about CCEI’s Special Needs and Inclusive Education Certificate and enroll today!