8-1 Special Needs Education for Children with Disabilities

8-1-1 Children with Disabilities
8-1-2 Development of Special Needs Education
8-1-3 Students of Special Needs Education
8-1-4 Special Education in the United States
References
8-1-1 Children with Disabilities

Children with disabilities are children “whose daily life or life in society is substantially limited over the long term due to a physical disability, intellectual disability, or mental disability (Article 2 of the 1970 Fundamental Law for People With Disabilities).” “Intellectual disability” mentioned here is applied to persons diagnosed with Down’s Syndrome or severe conditions, not to people with learning disabilities. Most children with disabilities live at home with their parents or guardians and attend special needs schools, special needs classes or regular classes.

Living Conditions of Children with Disabilities

Most children with disabilities (physical disabilities, intellectual disabilities and mental disorder) live at home. According to 2006 surveys, among 98,000 physically disabled children under 18 years old, 93,000 children lived at home while 5,000 were residents in assisted-living facilities. According to 2005 surveys, among 125,000 children with intellectual disabilities under 18 years old, 117,000 lived at home and 8,000 were residents in assisted-living facilities. According to a 2011 survey, among 179,000 children with mental disorder under 20 years old, 176,000 children were outside patients living at home and 3,000 children were patients in the hospitals (Table 8.1.1).

Table 8.1.1 Children With Disabilities In-Home or In Institutions/Hospital
TotalIn-homeInstitutions/Hospitals
Number%Number%
Children with physical disabilities (under 18)(2006)98,00093,000955,0005
Children with intellectual disability (under 18)(2005)125,000117,000948,0006
Children with mental disorder (under 20)(2011)179,000176,000983,0002
(Naikakufu 2013)
Children with Physical Disabilities

According to a 2006 survey, children with physical disabilities (under 18) living at home (93,000) had orthopedic disabilities (54%), internal organ disorders (22%), hearing impairment or speech impediments (19%), visual impairment (5%) and multiple disabilities (16%). Two-thirds (66%) had profound and severe disabilities. Their disabilities were caused by undetermined origins (35%), complications during birth (19%), illnesses (10%), unknown (15%), accidents (3%) and others (18%).

Approximately half of children with physical disabilities were able to perform daily chores, for example, eat meals (59%), go to the toilet (86%), take a bath (46%), and dress themselves (52%). Most of them were able to toss about in bed (79%) and move around in the house (69%). More than half of them (61%) needed some help when they go outside. Their parents, usually their mothers, helped them when necessary (Kōseirōdōshō 2008).

Welfare for Children with Disabilities

The welfare of children with disabilities is protected under the Child Welfare Law. All persons with physical and mental disabilities have been issued an identification handbook. Appliances, allowances, and tax exemptions are determined according to the severity of disability.

The government provides a Special Child-Rearing Allowance and income-based benefits for the guardians of the children with disabilities. Parents caring for children with severe disabilities under 20 years old receive a Special Child-Rearing Allowance (49,900 yen a month for children with first-degree disabilities, and 33,230 yen a month for children with second-degree disabilities). Parents caring for children with severe disabilities received an additional 14,140 yen a month, as of 2014 (Naikakufu 2014d).

8-1-2 Development of Special Needs Education
Special Education for Children with Disabilities (1948-2006)

Since 1948 (based on the 1947 School Basic Law), children with disabilities have received “special education (tokushu kyōiku)” in special schools, special classes in regular schools, or in regular classrooms. Parents and the municipal board of education decide whether children with mild disabilities attend regular classes, special classes in regular schools, or special schools. Since 1948, children with visual or hearing impairments have the right to receive nine-year compulsory education services. In 1957, new special schools for children with orthopedic disabilities, intellectual disabilities and health impairment were established. In the 1960s, children with speech and language disorder, emotional disturbance, and autism started to receive special education in special classes. Since 1979, all children with physical and mental disabilities have the right to complete compulsory education.

In the early 1990s, the Japanese government made a plan to raise the number of students with disabilities in special education. The percentage of students with disabilities in special education to all students in elementary and middle schools had been extremely low (e.g., 0.9% in 1992), compared with other developed countries (Monbushō 1993). In April 1993, the government started a new system of special education instruction in resource rooms for children with mild disabilities who are enrolled in regular classes. Students with speech and language disorders, emotional disturbance, and autism, study most time in regular classes and may visit a resource room several times a week to receive special instruction based on their disabilities. Since April 2006, children with developmental disabilities (Learning Disability, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and High-Functioning Autism) have either been included in special needs classes or been able to utilize resource rooms in regular schools.

According to a 2006 survey, more than half of school-aged children (under 18) with physical disabilities (55%) attended special schools, 28% attended regular schools, 13% were in special classes of regular schools, and 2% stayed at home and had visiting education. On the other hand, 55% of children with intellectual disabilities attended special schools, 33% in special classes and 5% in regular classes (Table 8.1.2)

8.1.2 Percentage of School-Aged Children with Disabilities by Type of Education
Special schoolsSpecial classesRegular schoolsVisiting education at home
Children with physical disabilities (2006)54.512.828.01.9
Children with intellectual disabilities (2005)55.432.511.01.1
(Kōseirōdōshō 2008; Kōseirōdōshō 2007b)
Special Needs Education Reform

In 2001, the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) established a committee to address special needs education reform, in order to response to the increasing number of children with Learning Disability (LD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA) in regular classrooms, and the increasing number of children with more complex and severe disabilities in special schools.

The 2003 Report proposed to:

In 2004, public schools started to establish “in-school committee” to establish a support system and appoint a “special needs education coordinator.” The “in-school committee” also began to make “individualized education plans (IEP)” and “individualized education support plans (IESP)” for children with disabilities, consulting with their parents and related institutions.

In 2006, special education extended educational supports in resource rooms to the children with developmental disabilities, such as LD, ADHD and HFA. The number of the students with developmental disabilities in special needs education has increased even more rapidly since then.

Special Needs Education (2007-)

In April 2007, “special needs education (tokubetsu shien kyōiku)” formally started in order to meet the individual needs of children with disabilities, replacing “special education” which provided special location of education, depending on child’s type and degree of disabilities. Special schools for the blind, special schools for the deaf and special schools for children with orthopedic disabilities, intellectual disabilities and health impairment were integrated into “special needs schools,” which can manage two or more disabilities in order to respond to the increasing number of the students with multiple disabilities. Children with developmental disabilities are

It became mandatory that parents should be consulted when they decide on which school their child attend. Elementary and middle schools are required (though not mandatory by law) to provide special needs education for children with disabilities, based on the individualized education plan (IEP) as well as the individualized educational support plan (IESP) from infancy through the graduation of school. In 2007, it also became compulsory that each school has a special needs education coordinator.

Many regular schools lack adequate facilities and services for children with disabilities. School facilities are not barrier-free for children with wheel chairs or other mobility problems. To decide which schools in their jurisdiction should make the renovations and accommodations for students with disabilities, each municipal board of education appoints a Committee of Advisors for the Schooling for Disabled Children, consisting of teachers, physicians and psychologists. The Committee advises parents on the best interests of the child, and makes recommendations to the board regarding the kind of school that disabled children should attend.

Inclusive Education Obligatory in 2011

The board of education used to make the final decision on which school a disabled child would attend, and was able to legally deny access to the regular schools, citing inadequate accommodation and staff. In 2007, it finally became mandatory that the municipal boards of education and schools listen to the parents’ opinions when they decide on which school a disabled child will attend. Since 2011, the local governments have been required to place children with disabilities in the regular classroom as much as possible if their parents request the arrangement, as in the 1975 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act in the United States.

In 2013, the government enacted the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities. It promises legal prohibition of discrimination and requirement for reasonable accommodation (effective in 2016). Public educational institutions need to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities and private entities must endeavor to do so.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

The purpose of special needs education is to help children with disabilities to develop their individual abilities so that they become capable of living independently when they are adults. These children are taught in classes of six to eight, and the instruction is tailored to their needs. Special needs education teachers design a curriculum that considers the individual needs of students. They may consult informally with parents and/or medical professionals, but they are not required to confer with parents or medical professionals as in the United States.

In 1999, the individualized education program (IEP) for the students with multiple disabilities, and the IEP for independent activities of the students with disabilities became required. Since 2007, elementary and middle schools have been required (though not mandatory by law) to provide special needs education for children with disabilities, based on the individualized education program (IEP) as well as the individualized educational support plan (IESP) from infancy through the graduation of school.

The government has been conducting annual survey of special needs education system since 2007. The implementation rate of the IEP in schools has improved from 46% in 2007 to 75% in 2017. Among the schools which children with disabilities attended, most schools implemented the IEP (93%) and IESP (86%). The implementation rate of elementary schools (100% for IEP; 94% for IESP) was higher than that of middle schools (98%; 93%) and that of high schools (79%; 71%) in 2017 (Monbukagakushō 2018p).

8-1-3 Students of Special Needs Education
Students in Special Needs Education (2007-)

The Japanese government has succeeded in increasing the number of children in special needs education after special support services in resource rooms in 1993 and the reform of special needs education in 2007. The number of students in special needs education in elementary and middle schools increased by 2.7 times from 132,000 in 1993 and by 1.5 times from 217,000 in 2007 to 362,000 in 2015, despite of the decreasing number of children. The percentage of students in special needs education to all students also increased from 1.0% in 1993 to 2.0% in 2007 and to 3.6% in 2015.

In 2015, of 362,000 disabled students in elementary and middle schools,

Since 2007, the number of students with disabilities has increased by 1.2 times in special needs schools, by 1.8 times in special needs classes, and by 2 times in resource rooms (Figure 8.1.1; Table 8.1.3).

Table 8.1.3 Students in Special Needs Education in Elementary Schools and Middle Schools: 1992-2015
2015200719931992
Number%%Number%Number%Number%
All students in schools10,099,000-10010,757,00010013,619,00010013,984,000100
Special needs education362,0001003.6217,0002.0132,0001.0124,0000.9
Special needs schools70,00019.30.758,0000.550,0000.452,0000.4
Special needs classes201,00055.72.0113,0001.169,0000.572,0000.5
Special needs services in resource rooms90,00025.00.945,0000.412,0000.1--
(Monbukagakushō 2018a; Monbukagakushō 2016a; Monbukagakushō 2008a; Monbukagakushō 1994; Monbukagakushō 1993)

Compared with 2007, much more students with intellectual disabilities attended in special needs schools and special needs classes in 2015. The number of students with intellectual disabilities increased by 1.3 times in special needs schools and by 1.5 times in special needs classes (Figure 8.1.2; Table 8.1.4).

After special needs education for children with developmental disabilities started in 2006, the number of students with autism/emotional disturbance increased by 2.4 times in special needs classes and students with developmental disabilities by 4 times and students with emotional disturbance by 3.3 times in resource rooms in regular schools (Figures 8.1.3; 8.1.4; 8.1.5; Table 8.1.4). The average size of the special education classes is three students.

8.1.4 Students in Special Needs Education by Disability Type in 2007 and 2015
Type of Disability20072015
Number%%
Special Needs SchoolsVisual impairment5,6375,7164.11.3
Hearing impairment8,3408,6256.32.0
Intellectual disabilities92,912124,16490.028.9
Physical disabilities29,91732,08923.37.5
Health impairments18,91920,05014.54.7
Total108,173137,89410032.1
Special Needs ClassesIntellectual disabilities66,711100,21549.723.3
Physical/Motor disabilities3,9914,3722.70.1
Health impairments1,8263,0301.50.7
Low vision3305100.30.1
Hard of hearing1,2081,5180.80.4
Speech and language disorders1,3101,6910.80.4
Autism/Emotional disturbance38,00190,15744.721.0
Total113,377201,49310046.9
Special Needs Services in Resource RoomsSpeech and language disorders29,34035,33739.18.2
Autism5,46914,18915.73.3
Emotional disturbance3,19710,62011.82.5
Low vision1551610.20
Hard of hearing1,9232,0802.30.5
Learning disabilities2,48513,18814.63.1
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder2,63614,60916.23.4
Physical/Motor disabilities11680.10
Health impairment241800
Total45,24090,27010021.0
Special Needs EducationTotal286,790429,657-100
Note: Children with multiple disabilities in special needs schools are counted repeatedly in each disability category.
(Monbukagakushō 2008d; Monbukagakushō 2016a)
Students in Special Needs Education in 2015

The Japanese government provides free elementary and middle school education for all children with disabilities under the School Education Law. In 2015, 362,000 disabled students, 3.6% of all 10.1 million elementary and middle school students, received special needs education.

In 2015, of 362,000 disabled students in elementary and middle schools,

From preschools to high schools, 430,000 disabled students, 2.8% of all 152 million students, received special needs education. The majority of students from special needs classes in regular middle schools attend high school department of special needs schools because regular high schools do not have special needs classes.

In 2015, of 430,000 disabled students in preschools through high schools,

Table 8.1.5 Students in Special Needs Education in 2015
Preschools through high schoolsElementary and middle schools
Number%%Number%%
Total15,181,000-10010,099,000-100
Students in special needs education430,0001002.8362,0001003.6
Students in special needs schools138,00032.10.970,00019.30.7
Students in special needs classes201,00046.91.3201,00055.72.0
Students with special support services in resource rooms90,00021.00.690,00025.00.9
(Monbukagakushō 2016a)

In addition, special education teachers visit the homes and bedsides of elementary, middle school students and high school students. In 2015, 1,344 elementary, 784 middle school, and 857 high school students received this visitation education (Monbukagakushō 2016a). If a child stays in the hospital, he or she receives correspondence education.

The maximum number of students per class in the departments of elementary and middle schools in special needs schools is set six. However, the number of students per class in 2011 was actually three. On the other hand, the maximum number of students per special needs class in regular elementary and middle schools is set eight. But in fact, the number of students per class in 2011 was three (Monbukagakushō 2016b; Table 8.1.6).

Table 8.1.6 Number of Students Per Class in Special Needs Schools and Special Needs Classes in Elementary and Middle Schools in 2011
Maximum Number of Students Per ClassNumber of Students Per Class
Special Needs Schools63
Special Needs Classes83
Elementary School40 (35 for first graders)28
Middle School4033
(Monbukagakushō 2016b)

The percentage of teachers who have teacher’s license in special education among all teachers at special needs schools have been as low as 73% in 2014, though increased from 61% in 2006. On the other hand, teacher in charge of special needs classes are not required to have teacher’s license of special needs education. In 2015, 33% of teachers in special needs classes of elementary school and 26% of teachers in special needs classes of middle schools have teacher’s license of special needs education (Monbukagakushō 2016a).

Schools have a special needs education coordinator who is in charge of setting an appointment with the parents. Principal appoints a special needs education coordinator in school. As of 2014, almost all elementary and middle schools have special needs education coordinators and 84% of high schools have them (MS April 20, 2016). In fact, the teacher in charge of special needs education class or the teacher in charge of student guidance takes a role of special needs education coordinators in most cases.

The system of classroom aides and paraprofessionals has been developing since the legalization of inclusive education in 1993. In 2005, 14,000 classroom assistants supported school life and learning for students with disabilities in 9,000 elementary and middle schools (1.52 persons per school)(Monbukagakushō 2007). After the special needs education reform, the number of special education support assistants has increased from 26,000 in 2007 to 49,000 in 2014. In 2014, almost 50,000 special education support assistants helped students with disabilities in regular schools (5,600 in preschools, 43,600 in elementary and middle schools, and 500 in high schools)(Monbukagakushō 2015g).

Development of Special Needs Education in Japan
1948Special education in special schools for children with visual/hearing impairments or special classes in regular schools for children with disabilities.
1957new special schools for children with orthopedic disabilities, intellectual disabilities and health impairment.
1979Compulsory education for all students with physical and mental disabilities.
1993Special support services in resource rooms for children with disabilities.
2006Special education for children with Learning Disabilities (LD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and High-Functioning Autism (HFA).
2007Special needs education.
2011Inclusive education programs for disabled children becomes obligatory.
2016Public educational institutions is required to make reasonable accommodation for people with disabilities and private entities must endeavor to do so.
8-1-4 Special Education in the United States

Public schools in the United States are required to be barrier-free under the 1968 Architectural Barriers Act. As a part of the movement for the rights of disabled people, the United States Supreme Court ruled in 1972 that public schools be prohibited from denying education to children with disabilities. The landmark law for special education, the 1975 Individuals With Disabilities Education Act and its amendments mandate that everyone with disabilities between the ages of three and 21 shall receive a free, appropriate public education. If a public school lacks the services, the school district must pay for the child to attend a private school approved by the state. The Supreme Court ruled in 1999 that public schools must pay for in-class nursing care for severely disabled children. Schools may hire paraprofessionals or aides to provide the service.

Since 1988, schools in the United States have found the inclusion of disabled children in the regular education classroom to be the “least restrictive environment” for an increasing number of students with disabilities. In 2014, approximately 95% of disabled persons 6 to 21 years old receiving education service for the disabled attended regular school. More than half of them (62%) spent 80% or more time of the day in a regular classroom (NCES 2017).

In 2014, the number of children ages 3-21 receiving services under the IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was 6,555,000, 13% of total public school enrollment. The types of their disabilities include specific learning disabilities (35%), speech or language impairments (21%), other health impairments (12%), autism (8%), intellectual disability (7%), developmental delay (6%), emotional disturbance (6%), multiple disability (2%), hearing impairment (1%), orthopedic impairments (1%)(Figure 8.1.7; Table 8.1.7).

Table 8.1.7 Percentage Distribution of Students Ages 3-21 Served Under the IDEA by Disability Type in SY2014-15
%
Specific Learning Disabilities34.8
Speech or Language Impairments20.3
Other Health Impairments13.2
Autism8.8
Intellectual Disability6.4
Developmental Delay6.4
Emotional Disturbance5.3
Multiple Disability2.0
Hearing Impairment1.2
Orthopedic Impairments0.8
Traumatic brain injury0.4
Visual impairment0.4
(NCES 2017)

The parent-approved IEP of the United States is legally mandated by the 1975 Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. A child-study team is formed to develop an IEP (which is not legally binding) and must renew the IEP at least annually. The team consists of the child’s teacher(s), a representative from the local school district, the child’s parents or guardians, school psychologists and therapists, and the children themselves, when appropriate.

References

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