Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Is There a Child with Special Needs in the Classroom?

This post was written as a contribution to the Living Life Special Blog Carnival. It was culled from

One year, I had a boy with autism in a wheelchair in my Kindergaten classroom. He had an aide. As nervous parents and children entered the classroom for the first day of school, Mason screamed and used repetitive language to let us know he was not comfortable in his new setting. 

Photo by Tiaras and Bowties

Some parents complained to the principal and wondered how I could teach with a disruptive child in my classroom. The parents were escorted out of the room and led to a Boo Hoo Breakfast where they were assured that everything would be fine and learning would happen. Eventually, we all adjusted and were blessed to have this child with special needs teach us some things – especially about ourselves. Children helped push Mason’s wheelchair, parents were genuinely concerned about his well-being, and learning occurred for all of us on many levels.

I learned that children are much more accepting of other children regardless of any differences. In fact, they don't notice, or care about, many of the differences that adults notice. It is always interesting to me to see which children will help children with special needs. These will be the future doctors, nurses, social workers, teachers and volunteers.

How Can You Help?
  • Talk with children about Special Needs when the child is out of the classroom for therapy or when you are alone with your own child. What do we mean when we say "kids with special needs?" This means any child who might need extra help because of a medical, emotional, or learning problem. These children have special needs because they might need medicine, therapy, or extra help in school.
  • It is important to not be overly helpful when no help is needed. Children with special needs like to be as independent as they can be.
  • Some children might think it is not fair that a particular child gets to go with another teacher for play therapy, speech, occupational or physical therapies. Explain that they need extra help in some area. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses and we all need help with something and we all need friends.
  • Tell the children that if a special needs person is being teased or bullied, to make sure an adult knows.

    How Can Children Help?
    • A blind child may need help carrying books.
    • A child in a wheelchair may need someone to push the chair.
    • A child with Down Syndrome might need a friend to play with at recess or sit with at lunch.
    • A child with autism might need a good listener.
    • An emotionally disturbed child might need a good role model.
    • A depressed child might need a hand to hold.

    We all need friends who are understanding, patient, forgiving, offer encouragement and are good listeners. Remember, it is important to listen and be supportive in return.