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Special education and mainstream classes

Teenagers doing work at their desks.

If you have a disability that affects how you learn, you may be put in a mainstream class but be given extra attention to help you learn. Or, you may be put in a special education class with other kids who have disabilities.

If you are in a mainstream class, it is because you, your parents, and your teachers have decided it’s the best place for you to learn. Even so, you may need help with certain things. If something is out of your reach or you have a question about the assignment, don’t be afraid to ask.

If you start out in a mainstream class and then get moved to a special education class, it may be hard to adjust. You’re probably used to being in class with your friends and do not want to move to a class where you do not know people. You may also feel like you’re being moved because something is wrong with you. That is not true! You are moving to a special education class because you will be able to learn better there. Give it a chance.

Besides teaching the usual school subjects, many schools also offer special classes for kids with disabilities to help them learn life skills. In this type of class, you learn how to:

  • Figure out your strengths and needs
  • Figure out where you want to go in life and how you're going to get there
  • Explain your disability to others
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Stand up for yourself
  • Find out what resources are available for you
  • Help write your Individualized Education Program

You can get tips on talking about your disability or illness and on making new friends, which can be helpful if you're switching classes.


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Content last reviewed February 16, 2011
Page last updated December 26, 2014