Teaching Students with Special Needs in the Mainstream Classroom

(Grades K-6) / Flex Course

PDI Course Number: 23T02 / UCSD Course Number: EDUC41528


Course Description

Does your classroom population include students with special needs? This online course teaches K-6 teachers how to address students with special needs in the general classroom. The course provides information about teacher involvement in the special education process in terms of assessment, intervention, and collaboration. A variety of suggestions for working with students who have special needs such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, communication disorders, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, sensory impairments, and low-incidence disabilities are provided. Also included are strategies to assist ELLs, at-risk, and gifted students. Each special need is defined, and common causes and characteristics are identified, along with suggested instructional strategies. Intervention strategies and classroom adaptations are also provided to help teachers accommodate students with special needs in an inclusive classroom. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units (50 hours of training) from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"Excellent course! The content is very beneficial and inspires you to try new things. Thank you for offering this level of quality learning and instruction for busy teachers." - Lucy Allen

Enrollment Options

Course Only

Only $127 with the discount

Course with Credit from UCSD Extension

Only $323 with the discount

This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units or 5 quarter units of graduate-level credit from UC San Diego.

You have up to one year from the date you are enrolled to complete a flex course.


Print our customized course approval form to share with your school district.



Required Resource Book

This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List



UCSD Course Number: EDUC41528
Unit One
  • Course Overview and Glossary
  • The Definition and Scope of Special Needs
  • Services for Students with Special Needs
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography
  • Test #1
Unit Two
  • The Special Education Process
  • Identifying Special Needs
  • Pre-referral Intervention Strategies
  • The Formal Referral Process
  • Program Placement
  • Assignment #2: Article reflection
  • Test #2
Unit Three
  • The Importance of Collaboration
  • Creating an Inclusive Classroom
  • Assignment #3: Share your expertise
  • Test #3
Unit Four
  • Students with Learning Disabilities
  • Students with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • Students with ADHD
  • Test #4
Unit Five
  • Students with Communication Disorders
  • Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Students with Sensory Impairments
  • Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities
  • Test #5
Unit Six
  • Working with ELLs
  • Working with At-Risk Students
  • Teaching Gifted and Talented Students
  • Special Needs and the CCSS
  • Assignment #4: Design a lesson that properly differentiates instruction to accommodate students with the chosen disability/special need in your classroom.
  • Assignment #5: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)


Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

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