What is a Development Specialist in Special Education?

Developmental Specialist in Special EducationIf you are searching for a career path that will enable you to play a prominent role in the lives of young developmentally disabled children, then it is recommended that you consider becoming a development specialist in special education. As the number of children diagnosed with developmental disabilities continues to rise, the demand for expected special education specialists is expected to grow at a rapid rate of 35% over the next decade, according to the College Foundation of North Carolina. Therefore, child development specialists will be needed for helping teachers and parents administer appropriate therapy and/or behavior modification techniques that will improve children’s skill development. In order to determine whether launching this career is the right fit for your goals, the following is a full job overview for development specialists in special education.

What Child Development Specialists in Special Education Do

With their expertise in human development, child development specialists in special education are given the responsibility of discovering ways for the child to overcome any developmental delays. In order to assess a child’s specific developmental deficiencies, specialists will spend most of their time conducting observations, playing with children, engaging in gross motor games, and providing mental development tests to make informed assessments. Once the child development specialist has an understanding on a child’s developmental issues, he or she will work with parents, guardians, and special education teachers to create a therapy plan that will best fit the child’s milestone goals. Then, child development specialists will track progress, make adjustments to therapy plans, provide counseling, and offer referrals for more assistance.

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Where Child Development Specialists Work

In most cases, child development specialists can be valuable healthcare providers in any setting that involves working with children with developmental disabilities. Within special education, most development specialists are employed in daycares, public or private schools, Head Start programs, preschools, summer camps, or long-term residential centers. Child development specialists are also needed in pediatric hospitals, group homes, private practices, clinics, and some government education programs. While most child development specialists work with children who are five years old or under, there are some who will provide services well into the child’s teenage years when needed.

How to Become a Child Development Specialist

Although education requirements tend to vary based on the employer, the majority of positions will require child development specialists to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Most will choose a major in early childhood education, special education, applied psychology, or family studies. Regardless of the major, aspiring development specialists should have coursework in psychology, lifespan development, learning, motivation, child psychology, bilingual education, human growth, curriculum planning, and emergent literacy. In order to begin working in a childcare setting, most states will then require you to earn licensure my meeting education standards and passing a background check. Some special education employers will also prefer specialists who hold the Child Development Associate (CDA) credential from the Council for Professional Recognition to demonstrate proficiency.

Related Resource: Special Education Coordinator

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Overall, child development specialists are important members of the special education team who are responsible for working with children, their parents, and their educators to overcome obstacles from developmental disabilities for a more successful academic career. If you enjoy working with children, are sensitive to their needs, and can handle challenging situations with professionalism, then you should consider being a child development specialist in special education to make a difference in the lives of children with developmental delays.