Most common types of special educational needs. Can they be met with the help of a child psychologist?

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‘Every Student can learn, just not on the same day or the same way’

The above quote beautifully explains how diverse and unique children are. No two kids can be the same, the potentials, the level of creativity differs substantially. This also indicates that children have different educational needs. This article helps in understanding the same.

Special educational needs in very simple terms are learning disabilities or difficulties due to various factors such as neurodevelopmental, educational, social and emotional that make it harder for children to learn concepts and study material compared to most normal children.

Most common types of Special Education Needs that are observed in mental health clinics in India are:

  1. Learning Disability- This is a neurodevelopmental condition that affects the child’s brain to send, receive and process information. A child with learning disability may have difficulties with reading, writing, speaking, listening, understanding mathematical concepts, and with general comprehension. There are three commonly seen forms of learning disabilities
    1. Dyslexia- Impacts reading, writing and comprehension. Children have difficulty decoding and identifying sounds within words. Trouble with reading properly is often seen.
    2. Dysgraphia- Trouble with writing, poor handwriting, grammar, vocabulary and spelling errors are seen very often.
    3. Dyscalculia- Difficulty with mathematical calculations, numbers, reasoning, reading clocks, counting money etc.
  1. Intellectual Disability- Earlier known as mental retardation. Children with this disability are seen to have notable impairments in both intellectual functioning such as reasoning, learning and problem solving and in adaptive behavior (conceptual, social and practical skills). They usually have lower IQs compared to the normal population. They require special education as per their training potential especially in vocational skills.
  2. Autism Spectrum Disorders: These were previously known as pervasive developmental disorders and they are generally characterized by impairments in social communication and restricted and repetitive behaviors. These children have difficulty in understanding social cues and may have intellectual deficits. They need to be taught communication through different means and may require special attention.
  3. Cognitive Functional Deficits- Various cognitive deficits may occur in children such as issues with memory, attention, concentration, abstract thinking, problem solving and decision making. These require activities and stimulation which a special educator or psychologist can provide.
  4. ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a neurodevelopmental disorder which affects a child’s ability to sustain attention as well as a tendency to be hyperactive or impulsive in nature. These children find it very difficult to sit in a regular class room setting and constantly get up from their seats. They can also be disruptive and may talk excessively. They need a space of learning where their excess energy is channelized through various practical based activities. Additionally, stimulating tasks help sustain attention better. A child counsellor at Mpower can cater to these needs.
  5. Issues with Learning Styles- Many a times, a child is unable to learn effectively is due to a discrepancy between teaching and learning methods. There are various kinds of learning styles- written, verbal, kinetic or practical based, auditory or sound based. Each child may have a specific or combination of learning styles.
  6. Expressive and Receptive Language Disorders- An expressive language disorder in simple terms means one in which the child faces difficulty to get their messages to other people, they find it difficult to express their thoughts in words. Whereas, a receptive language disorder is one in which a child faces difficulty to understand words or messages from others. Hence, comprehension can be affected. These children require a lot of patience and training to grasp concepts. These issues are neurodevelopment and requires extensive neurocognitive work which child counsellor at Mpower can offer.

How can a Child Psychologist help with these needs?

A child psychologist is a trained and qualified professional who specializes in all psychological and behavioral issues in children. Mpowerminds offers best counselling services to counter special education needs with a multidisciplinary team of psychiatrists, Psychologists, Special educators, Occupational therapist and Speech therapists. The professionals work in coordination to devise an individual educational plan (IEP) which is specially curated for the child. Since the needs are special in nature, the plan is very individualized to cater to the child’s learning potential. Some strategies include:

  1. Gamification- Using games as a medium to learn different skills.
  2. Reward Systems for learning a skill or meeting a goal
  3. Dealing with other emotional concerns such as low self-esteem, anxiety etc.
  4. Using behavioral techniques such as chaining, shaping, reinforcement.
  5. Cognitive techniques such as mnemonics, meaning based learning, use for different learning styles, multisensory approaches.

Also read, How to raise awareness for children’s mental health? Find the best child psychiatrist/psychologist near you.

What constitutes a comprehensive and integrated child development? Find a child psychologist/child psychiatrist in Bangalore.

How does early intervention affect child development? What is the role of a special educator? Find best child psychiatrist/child psychologist/child counsellor in Mumbai.

How do I know that my child needs speech therapy? Find the best speech therapist in Kolkata.

Nikita Sulay
Psychologist and Outreach Associate: Mpower – The Foundation
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