How STEM Is Creating Opportunities In Special Needs Education

How STEM Is Creating Opportunities In Special Needs Education

STEM in Special Needs Education

The case for STEM in special education

STEM, which stands for “science, technology, engineering, and mathematics,” is creating new and exciting opportunities for students with special needs. The main goal of all educators is to ensure their student's success by teaching them necessary life skills while cultivating their natural talents. Unfortunately, the current perspective on special needs education tends to focus more on weaknesses than strengths, ultimately doing the students a disservice. STEM offers a better approach by encouraging educators to focus on the abilities of students with special needs rather than their disabilities.

STEM Career Growth and Opportunities

STEM is a hands-on, interdisciplinary approach that combines academic concepts such as science, technology, engineering, and mathematics with real-world scenarios. STEM is proving to be revolutionary in the world of special needs education by opening up new frontiers and career opportunities.

Currently, between 80% and 90% of individuals with special needs are unemployed or underemployed. At the same time, 65 percent of children in school today are predicted to work in STEM jobs that have not been invented yet. What exactly does this mean for special needs students?

STEM encourages teachers to embrace a student-focused and active approach to learning. Understanding the complexities and applications of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics requires a hands-on approach rather than textbooks alone. Other benefits of STEM in the classroom include:

  • Increased problem-solving abilities
  • Improved communication skills
  • Experience working in a group
  • Social-emotional development

Students with special needs – or neurodivergent – have a natural affinity for STEM pursuits. Children and adolescents who are neurodivergent have different ways of looking at things and often have unique strengths, such as an aptitude for:

  • Superior pattern recognition
  • Strong visual memory
  • Great attention to detail
  • Tenacity for problem-solving

Society tends to focus on the challenges special needs students have to overcome rather than acknowledging their unique insights and abilities. Thanks to the introduction of STEM education, common preconceptions about special needs education and neurodiversity are being re-evaluated. While STEM is creating much-needed opportunities in special needs education, it is also helping to build the student’s confidence and self-esteem to help them live a successful and fulfilling life. 

lee vodfsky

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.

Lee Vodofsky
Principal-Harbor School, Eatontown, NJ