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Orientation to the Exceptional Child




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Please Note: Attendance and participation are mandatory in all University courses, and specific requirements may differ by course. If attendance requirements are not met, a student may be removed from the course. Please review the Course Attendance Policy in the Catalog for more information.

University of Phoenix reserves the right to modify courses. While widely available, not all programs are available to residents of all states. Please check with a University Enrollment Representative.

Course level: EDU Graduate

This course provides an overview of special education and the characteristics of exceptional learners. Candidates are introduced to special education laws and their implications for identification and eligibility, service delivery options, and the Individualized Education Program (IEP). In addition, the use of technology, collaborative practices, and transition planning requirements are examined. Candidates will also reflect on their dispositions and motivations to teach and explore basic philosophies, professionalism, and legal and ethical ramifications in education. This course is not available for enrollment to residents of Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia. Wisconsin, Wyoming, and individuals who reside outside the United States


This graduate level course requires proof of completion of a Bachelor's degree. Be prepared to provide documentation during the checkout process.

What you'll learn

Course skills and outcomes

Week 1

  • Investigate the philosophical, historical, and legal principles that form the basis of special education practice.
  • Distinguish terminology used in the education of individuals with exceptional learning needs.
  • Examine current trends and challenges in special education.
  • Explore the IDEA eligibility categories, FERPA guidelines, and state and federal laws relevant to special education.

Week 2

  • Examine the pre-referral, referral, and multidisciplinary evaluation processes.
  • Compare an Individualized Education Program (IEP) to an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).
  • Classify assessment instruments and practices used for determining special education eligibility and IEP construction.
  • Distinguish service delivery options and least restrictive environment (LRE).

Week 3

  • Investigate the cognitive, processing, and language characteristics of exceptional learners.
  • Explore the social, personality, and learning characteristics of exceptional learners.
  • Determine the identification and eligibility guidelines for students with other health impairment and emotional disturbance.
  • Examine the use of accommodations, modifications, and differentiating instruction for exceptional learners. 

Week 4

  • Interpret the definitions and laws regarding assistive technology in special education
  • Distinguish technology devices and tools to support communication, instruction, assessment, and lesson delivery for exceptional learners. 
  • Differentiate the benefits and challenges of adopting and implementing assistive technology. 

Week 5

  • Investigate current practices in schools regarding collaborative planning and instruction for exceptional learners and guiding paraeducators.
  • Determine the importance of school-to-family collaboration and communication.
  • Examine the transition planning process for post-secondary outcomes.
  • Explore methods for encouraging self-advocacy and self-determination to promote student engagement.

Week 6

  • Describe the professional expectations and standards of practice for special education teachers.
  • Explain the legal and ethical responsibilities of teachers.
  • Assess the importance of teacher-reflection to improve teaching practices.
  • Explore professional organizations for special education teachers.


Why take courses at University of Phoenix

Accreditation that matters

We’ve been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission ( for more than 40 years.

Real-world instructors

Learn from instructors who bring an average of 25 years of working experience to the classroom.

Affordable and potentially reimbursable

Our tuition and fees are competitive and fixed. Also, check to see if your employer will cover you for this course.

Next Steps

Start a conversation about your future with an enrollment representative today.

Start a conversation about your future with an enrollment representative today.

Call (844) 937-8679

Transfer Credits

Credit Transfer

Credit Transfer

Need to transfer credits to another college or university?

Before you enroll in a course, check with your school of choice to make sure they will accept our transfer credits and to understand any requirements or limitations. Then you can complete your course, and request your official transcript be sent to your school. That’s it!

How to request your transcripts