The graduate program in special education: learning disabilities at American University is grounded in the philosophy that all individuals have the ability to access, participate, and progress in education. Faculty and students examine models that support and encourage developmental and learning needs of students with a variety of learning challenges. The program prepares education professionals to design and implement creative learning environments for students through training in diagnostic-prescriptive approaches, and use of evidence-based practice and practice-based evidence.
This intensive and data-based method of teaching emphasizes teachers’ sensitivity to their students’ individual needs and learning styles. Graduate students in the program learn how to assess students’ individual strengths and weaknesses, based on their understanding of child development in language, cognition, motor, and social domains. Additionally, our teachers learn how to use a variety of instructional approaches to teach to students' strengths while remediating weaknesses.
The program faculty recognize the interaction of cultural, linguistic, and environmental background factors on students’ individual learning needs; and the program is designed to prepare teachers to embrace and address these diversity factors. By increasing the awareness and appreciation of diversity in our graduate students, the program prepares specialists who differentiate between behaviors associated with cultural, linguistic, and/or environmental factors, and learning disabilities.
These principles of acceptance, understanding, and embracing of diversity factors are reflected in the American University's School of Education's organizing principles and professional commitments for all its teacher education programs.
Students receive training and supervision by master teachers at The Lab School of Washington, a pioneering, arts-based scholastic day school for students (primarily grades K–6) with severe learning disabilities that was founded by Sally L. Smith in 1967.
Our faculty members are respected specialists in their fields, all deeply involved in special education research and practice. Instruction is collaborative and team-based. Graduate students are immersed in a creative approach to teaching grounded in solid practical knowledge, the combination of which prepares them to be highly qualified and imaginative teachers.
Graduates are putting their expertise to work around the world and across the educational spectrum. Alumni work in public schools, private schools, independent schools, clinics, treatment centers, government organizations, and research institutions with positions as classroom teachers, professors, adult educators, bilingual teachers, tutors, researchers, program heads, policy makers, arts coordinators, curriculum specialists, and educational game designers.