Saturday, 27 May 2017

Children’s Day – Celebrating Children Living with Special Needs


Today - May 27 is set aside to celebrate children in Nigeria. It’s known as Children’s Day! It’s a day on which many children are given special attention and love. But could it be possible that not all children benefit from the special love and attention given to their peers who may be considered more normal than they are? For these children who have been classed by family and even society as not "normal" enough, it may just be that a little more information about their condition is required in order for them to be better understood. Understanding children with Special Needs is a great way to accept and accommodate them fully in spite of their differences.
          Special needs in children describe a wide variety of conditions which set these children apart as uniquely different. These conditions range from physical and mental disabilities to various learning difficulties and challenges. This post will focus on children with learning challenges.

Signs of Learning Challenges in Children
         Parents or teachers normally become concerned when a child is not imbibing learning at the same pace with his or her peers. When this happens, it would be important to pay closer attention to the child in order to understand the specific challenges faced. This would enable the parents to make a timely decision to start an early intervention. The earlier the intervention, the more positive and enriching the child's educational experience would be.

The following are some signs to look out for:
a.       A 3 year old who consistently is unable to catch a large ball.
b.      A 4 year old who struggles with the mechanics of walking upstairs.
c.       A 5 year old who cannot complete a simple puzzle.
d.     Difficulty recognizing rhymes or segmenting words based on sounds and syllables.
e.       Improper pencil grasp.
f.       Poor working memory despite repeated instruction.
g.       Continued struggles with visual and/or auditory information.
h.      Daydreaming during instruction.
i.        Confusion over routine tasks involving steps.
j.        Failure to fully complete age appropriate chores.
k.       Speech delays or a fear of speaking.
l.        High levels of anxiety over school work.   
If these signs are observed, there's no need to panic. A Response to Intervention (RTI) would be required which is normally provided by a special education teacher.

A Note to Parents
          As a parent who has observed some of the signs listed above, you need to be careful not to label your child too quickly before he or she begins elementary/primary school. This is because it is normal for some children to have delays in skills for any number of reasons.

          Also, bear in mind that your child may excel in different subject areas. Some children who struggle with math may excel in fine arts. This does not necessarily indicate a learning challenge. 

          Finally, make effort to find out your child's preferred learning style as early as possible. Some children struggle with learning simply because their teacher has not understood and employed their preferred learning style in their teaching repertoire.

        I'll end this post with an interesting quote from a child with Special Needs:
"I never understood why my friends loved to read. My mom and dad tried to encourage me with games and puzzles. Sometimes they would get frustrated because no matter what, I didn't understand. When I was in second grade, my favorite teacher told me I was smart, but that maybe I learned differently, and she sent me in for some tests. I ended up taking a lot of tests, and the doctor told my mom I had Dyslexia. This is a learning challenge that makes reading really hard. Now that I know I have to learn a different way, I have hope. I don't feel embarrassed anymore that my friends catch on faster than I do." - Anonymous

Understanding Special Education -