Understanding children with special needs

Children are the gift of God. But every child is not the same and he has also created certain children who need extra care, love and nurturing from their parents and siblings in particular and from the society, at large. These individuals have no dearth of talent or potential. They just need to be handled properly and guided well in order to shape out their future and careers. The term ” children with special needs’ means that these kids might need help because they are suffering from certain medical, emotional, or learning related issues.

 Children with Special Needs :

Children With Special Needs -is a broad term that covers multiple physical and mental conditions. To list a few, this includes issues related to learning, allergies, epilepsy, diabetes, physical disability, syndromes, delay in achieving developmental landmarks etc.

 

Let us get to know a few special needs in a bit more detail

Physical disability

These kids might need certain special equipments like braces, wheelchairs or crutches while walking or moving around. At schools, there are often arrangements for elevators or ramps for kids who face problems in walking on their own.

You must also take a child with physical disability to an occupational therapist who would help your child in carrying out routine activities like: wearing a pair of socks, brushing, combing etc on their own without assistance from anybody. They help your kid gain confidence in him/ herself by making them independent.

Sleepwalking

In most cases sleepwalking is not harmful in itself. Problems might occur if, your child gets hurt by objects or stumbles upon them. Sleep walking in majority of cases resolves as the child grows older. However, it definitely needs help from a professional. What the parents can do is to remove any cushions or carpets from the floor at night so that the child does not accidently slip. Also, if possible, put a crib around child’s bed so that chances or him/ her walking out of the bed are minimal. You may also install a bell on the kid’s room door that you can hear, in case the kid walks out at night. Another way is to keep the stairways and windows around the house locked at night-time. Also, keep all the sharp objects and inflammable objects out of the reach of children. If you find your kid sleepwalking, it is best to direct him back towards the bed gently without startling or waking him/ her up.

There are certain lifestyle changes that can be incorporated to help a kid who sleepwalks like putting him to bed at a fixed time, not allowing the child to skip his or her dinner or not allowing them to have a very heavy dinner. At bed time, play some soft music to put your kid to sleep . You can also make it as point to leave his or her bedside only when you are sure that the kid is in sound sleep.

Learning disabilities

These are problems that a child faces in understanding certain concepts, reading certain specific types of words and alphabets, interpreting and analyzing a set of instructions & retaining lessons. There are therapies that can help kids to work around these problems. There is no cure, as such but therapy can definitely help in simplifying problems for children with learning disabilities. There are special schools and trainers for such special children who understand their particular problem and will help them with utmost empathy and patience. A kid with learning disabilities should not be pressurized to perform exceptionally well in studies because it is only when they cross the speed breaker of their issues that they would be able to come at par with other kids. Let them take their own time.

 

One very commonly encountered learning disability is dyslexia. Dyslexia is basically a trouble in the way a child processes things. A dyslexic child may find it difficult to relate as to how to pronounce or read words or Focus on written words or smoothly form or read a sentence. They also have a problem in retaining knowledge.

Developmental delays

 

You may be able to point out developmental delays in speech, movement, learning and other areas of a kid’s growth by keeping in touch with your pediatrician and elders in the family. But there is no fixed time for certain developments like many kids have ben found to talk quite early while many take a little bit of time to talk. Every child is unique and vefore you jump to any conclusions on your own, always consult your child’s pediatrician for help.

 

Visual disabilities

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Kids with visual and sight issues would need special books written in Braille to read and learn. However, at a very early age , teaching in these children is carried out by means of special training programmes.

Another reason behind blindness might be genetic inheritance of blindness from parents or grandparents.

 

Hearing loss or hearing impairment or deafness

This varies in degree and intensity from case to case and some kids can hear faintly while others are totally incapable of hearing or perceiving sound. This hearing impairment occurs due to anatomical or physiological problems of ear. The incidence of hearing loss/ impairment is about 3 in 1,000 babies. Many babies are born with hearing impairment, making it the most common birth defect. A hearing problem can also develop later in life.

An audiologist would be able to help you out with your kid’s hearing problems. The audiologist would perform various tests to detect the intensity of hearing loss. Usually parents, trainers and doctors work as a team to help in figuring out the best way and modalities that can be adapted for the kid to ease out day-to-day activities including communication and learning at school.

Most cases can be managed with the help of surgeries, use of hearing/ listening aids. Hearing aids work like tiny amplifiers that multiply the decibel of sounds manifolds to allow the child to hear those.

 

Speech disorders

Some children have certain peculiar troubles while speaking or pronouncing specific types of words or sentences. Such kids often find themselves humiliated or frustrated as others find it difficult to understand what the child wants to convey. Very often, even classmates and friends are found making fun of this impairment. This should be discouraged and peers should be encouraged to be patient with the special kids and in fact help him get over the speech issue.

In most cases, speech disorders can be well-managed with help of a speech therapist. Your speech therapist would, in majority of cases help in getting rid of problems in articulation of words, stammering, babbling, resonance and language disorders.

There could be multiple reasons behind speech disorders like: hearing impairment, problems in oral and perioral musculature, cleft palate or lip at birth or even constrictions in airway leading to a nasal twang in speech. You need to be patient with both your kid and therapist as it depends on the kid’s ability to pick up the therapists instructions. Usually, sessions for speech therapy might last from a few months to few years. The result is almost always positive. You need to introduce positive reinforcements for your kid’s efforts without pressurizing him/her.

Down’s syndrome

A syndrome is a set of problems existing in a single body. Kids with down’s syndrome have a wide forehead, increased separation in eyes, slanting in eyes. Also, these kids are found to be slower mentally. Down’s syndrome occurs due to abnormality in chromosomes. In most cases of Down’s syndrome, there are associated cardiac problems and the kids are slow, mentally. Some cases have also been found to be associated with a type of blood cancer called Leukemia. The incidence of Down’s syndrome is 1 out of every 800 live births.

Autism

This is a type of brain dysfunction that leads the affected child to have difficulty in understanding or learning the meaning of some words or expressing her / his thought well. A child with autism find it disturbing to hear loud noises and shows repetitions in terms of movements or speech. They also have a tendency of getting disoriented towards surroundings for shorter or longer periods and might have problems in adjusting well with changes in surroundings.

To manage a kid with autism, you might need help from a speech therapist, psychologist and occupational therapist. There is no cure but in most cases, the child can be managed well to carry out basic education and even higher studies.

What can parents, teachers and classmates do to make working with special needs children Easier ?

We must educate our own children about the extra challenges that kid’s with special needs face in carrying out day-to-day tasks. Normal kids, who go to school or play with kids with special needs must be explained that these special children are not to be made fun or even pitied upon. They just need a little extra cooperation and positive relationships with people around including friends and family. For instance, if a kid needs a wheelchair to commute, other kids can and should help him by pushing the cart with a smile. It is also important for the parents to be supportive but not overtly protective as we want the child with special needs to get as self-dependent as possible. it is important that theylearn to at least carry out basic activities without help from others. Children with special needs require empathy but not over pampering.

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