Different Types of Special Needs and How to Support a Child with Special Needs.
What are Special Needs?
Students with Developmental Delay, Medical Conditions, Physical Deformity, Behavioural / Emotional Issues, Learning Problems and Sensory Impairment would require extra support in Communication, Movements, Self-Care, and Academics falls under the classification of Special Needs.
In special needs, a wide range of diagnoses are specified. It includes challenges that are mild to severe. Special needs require modifications so that child can reach their potential.
Different Types of Special Needs
There is a range of categories that are included in special needs. The following disabilities are discussed briefly below.
- Cerebral Palsy: This results from a brain injury that happens during fetal development or at birth. With Cerebral Palsy, motor skills are disrupted and individual sometimes experiences paralysis or seizures. The posture can degrade over time if not managed properly. It cannot be cured, but with right treatment, a person with Cerebral Palsy can live a full life.
- Epilepsy: The main cause is frequent seizures. This can affect people of all ages, epilepsy is largely erratic in nature but can be managed through consistent therapies or medication.
- Down syndrome: It falls under Developmental Delay Category. This disorder is caused due to an additional chromosome in a person’s DNA and appears by chance at conception. Down syndrome is accompanied by divergent physical characteristics and complications like visual or auditory problems, decreased muscle tone or cardiac conditions. It is recommended that children with Down Syndrome should be given early intervention as they would experience delays in mobility and educational development.
- Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD): In Autism Verbal and Non-Verbal communication is affected. The behaviour is observed before age of 3. ASD can affect educational performance and social interaction. One may observe repetitive activities and a child with ASD may resist variation in routines. Also, they may have sensory needs and falls under sensory-impaired special needs.
- Dyslexia: This comes under the set of Learning Disability, which faces challenges in reading, writing, spelling and comprehending. A Child with Dyslexia would be benefited if treatment/therapy is started at a young age rather than waiting till high school to address it.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): It’s related to Behavioural Special Needs, a Child with ADHD may have trouble paying attention to one task, will act without thinking about what the result would be, can be overly active and fidgety. Occupational therapy, medication and behavioural intervention play a vital role in managing behavioural challenges faced by children with ADHD.
- Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD): The behaviours noticed in a child with ODD are temper, frequently touchy, easily annoyed by others, may get angry easily and actively defying or refuses to comply with adult’s request or rules. Positive parenting and early treatment can help to improve behaviour and control the situation from getting worse.
- Sight and Hearing-Impaired: Partial or Complete blindness can be managed and diagnosed by an Ophthalmologist. While deafness and loss of hearing can affect individual processes. However, through a formal plan and use of assistive technology individuals with sight and hearing impairment can function at an ease.
- Sensory-Processing Disorder: This disorder specifies challenges in accepting and responding to messages from senses i.e. touch, sight, hearing and taste. To elaborate, person with sensory processing disorder may have more or low sensitivity to stimuli like tolerating light, being touched, maintaining eye contact and loud noises. It can be associated with Autism, Dyslexia and Intellectual Disabled.
The Professionals who can help to deals with Individuals with Special Needs.
The experts that work with children with special needs are:
- Psychiatrist: A Psychiatrist devises a treatment plan that involves children with special needs, parents and other involved professionals. The plan includes medication or behavioural therapy to decrease undesirable behaviours.
- Psychologists/Counsellors: Psychologists apply psychology theories in empathizing, predicting, directing and resolving problems of children with special needs. Counsellor conducts assessments in clinical settings to determine disability. They carry on clinical consultation, provide behavioural support through strategies that help to cope with difficult situations.
- Special Educators: The main task of Special Educators is formulating an Individual Educational Plan (IEP) with targeted goals that need to be evaluated after every 3 months. The Role Special Educator is to teach children with special needs effectively, use creative techniques that help children with special needs to educate in a modified and comfortable environment. A special educator collaborates with other involved professionals and parents too.
- Speech and Language Therapists: SLPs work to evaluate, analyse and treat Speech-Language, Social, Cognitive Communication and Swallowing disorders in children with special needs.
- Occupational Therapists: OTist is an allied mental health professional who helps children with special needs in optimising their routine in meaningful activities that occupy their time. The therapists help to expand sensory processing skills, fine motor skills, attention and social behaviour.
- Physiotherapists: Physiotherapist works with a child who has physical deformity for e.g.: a child with Cerebral Palsy can be helped through movements therapy and exercises.
It is relevant that all therapists should have a holistic approach as professionals can share techniques to overcome challenges faced by children and parents with special needs.
Guidelines for Professionals and Parents to support a Child with Special Needs.
- Simple Tasks and Clear Instructions: Firstly, it’s relevant to break down tasks into smaller and manageable phases that will help to attain a specific planned goal. Secondly, in order to complete the tasks professionals/parents must provide specific instructions instead of making children with special needs confused or frustrated.
- Follow a scheduled routine: For children with Autism, Intellectual Disabled, or ADHD a daily routine must be charted. This develops a structure and children with special needs would learn faster in a calm environment. Following a routine reduces stress, lessens problems, and minimize distractions.
- Use of auditory, visual and tactile cues: Usage of teaching-learning aids that involves music, touch, and visual prompts would help to register the concepts easily compared to a typical classroom explaining verbally without any clues or aids.
- Evaluate the child after the interval of 3 months: Teachers and parents must evaluate the performance of children with special needs as it gives insights into development and learning process. Furthermore, this would help in attaining 100% independence and professionals could incorporate fresh sets of goals. Thus, evaluation is essential to determine the process of input and output from teacher/parents to children with special needs.
- Construct a Support system: All the involved professionals and parents of children with Special Needs must work together and communicate about barriers or progress. Because more communication is carried out with every other, it would make things easier and benefit students with special needs.
- Rejoice small accomplishments: Every day is a struggle for children with special needs and if there is gradual improvement seen. It is significant to appreciate and celebrate the success, as this gives a positive outlook and encourages students with special needs to work hard and achieve more.
In the nutshell, one needs to remember that each child with special needs is unique and each one has their own individual desires. Professionals and parents must focus on the strengths of child and plan accordingly to overcome the challenges. Also, one must remember that we cannot “Fix” the disability but give children every possible support they require to beat the difficulties.
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