In early days, people with disabilities were considered as a curse. People used to believe that disabled people have been inflicted with disabilities by god as a punishment, others were fearful as they related disabilities with superstitious. Often, disabled babies could be abandoned and most of them could die, or they could be hidden away by their family members from the public eyes as they were seen as an embarrassment. Some people who were religious, others scientists started to change the way disabled people were treated, making people understand more about these conditions.
Before 1800 in America, people with disabilities were not considered too much when it came to education. During this time public schools were not offer special needs education, parents were forced to start organizations to ensure better education and environments for their disabled children. But afterwards, people started to change their attitudes towards these unfortunate people and schools were started in order to educate people with different variety of disabilities, then other schools like public schools stated to offer these services. In 1975 the authorities passed the Education for All Handicapped Children Act. This required public schools to provide special education for all the disabled children, and they were to do this in a mainstream environment meaning that the disabled student had to interact with other students in one way or another. This is beneficial to both disabled children and their peers as the disabled children learns a lot from their peers and on the other hand, the students learn how to live with and accept the disabled children.
More individuals who were more sympathetic were moved to establish institutions and schools for disabled. Some of them were Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet who was an educator and he founded the first school for deaf children in United States. Another sponsor was a French doctor known as Eduoard Seguin. In 1830, he was the founded a school for intellectually disabled children in the 1830s, in 1832, an American doctor known as Samuel Gridley Howe sponsored the Perkins School for the Blind. Ponce de Leon was the first teacher on record to educate deaf children.
Special education in America is structured to as normal as possible. Students with special needs are given the same experiences as their peers. Children with special needs are given opportunities to counteract with their peers for example during school assemblies and cafeterias. Students with special needs are required to attend their lessons the same period as their peers. They also have their progress reviewed annually as well as evaluation after every three years in order to determine the areas that more work might be needed. There are programmes to provide extra help to the students who might be running behind with their studies. These includes evening study, weekend extra study. There is also another programme where older students help their peers. Private tutors could be hired to help if a case is more complex.
Professional officials evaluate children with special needs in order to decide on what would be the best school or institution for individual child. These could be a normal classroom in public schools, or residential schools.