A student with special needs not only requires individualized instruction, but understanding. This understanding does not necessarily amount to compassion or even empathy, but at the very least requires a thorough expertise in educating students at various levels of cognitive and emotional abilities. Almost invariably, this knowledge of the challenges students with special needs face every day yields a level of compassion and empathy, but what is most important is that the teacher is aware of how a student who is naturally at a disadvantage can be put in the best possible situation to succeed. The following is a special needs primer to aide in that understanding.
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) disorder is a common childhood disorder that continues into adulthood. Symptoms include trouble focusing and paying attention, behavior issues, and hyperactivity. There are many treatments for ADHD, but no known cure. Medical professionals believe with medication and interventions that a person can have a productive life.
Teachers and parents can work together to help improve a school environment. It is very difficult for a child with ADHD to sit still during school. Parents can work at home on various learning tactics to help hold their attention during class. Create a list of goals with the child and write them down. Talk with the child on how the goals can be reached. Keep the line of communication open among student and teacher.
Asperger syndrome has symptoms of repeated behaviors, difficulty socializing with others, and repeated interest patterns. Asperger syndrome is a Pervasive Development Disorder (PDD). It can be managed with medicine, however no drug can directly treat the direct symptoms of Asperger syndrome. Support groups for social skills training and language therapy has been shown to be beneficial to children who have Asperger syndrome.
Parents and teachers should get educated on how to work with children with Asperger syndrome. Get the child involved in behavioral and occupational therapy. Choose support groups and programs that are ongoing. Teachers should follow an Individual Education Plan to help keep the child on their level. Keep the communication lines open among the parent and teacher to help support the child’s needs.
Auditory Processing Disorder
Auditory processing disorder (APD) affects about five percent of children in school. Children with auditory processing disorder cannot perceive information the same as other children do. There is a problem with the brain waves interpret sounds and getting out speech. Parents and teachers can apply strategies at home and school to help some of the problems with APD.
Avoid background noise at home and school. Make eye contact with the child when you are talking and speak with simple sentences. Have the child make notes if they are having problems following directions. Give the child a quiet place to do homework and keep organized. Children should have chores to do to help teach them responsibility and organization.
Autism is a developmental brain disorder that affects one in every 110 children. Boys are more likely to develop autism than girls as one in seven boys are diagnosed. About 1.5 million people in the United States alone are affected by autism. The statistics are raising by ten to seventeen percent annually. The cause of autism is unknown.
Helping a child with autism starts with education. Learn everything possible about the disorder and start treatment right away. Visit a physician right away after suspecting there may be a problem with the child. Parents need to take care of themselves so they can be a strong support system to their child. Teachers and parents can try to understand trigger points that cause disruptive behavior. This will help the child become less frustrated and give him a different way to communicate. Focus on the positive. Accept that your child is different instead of focusing on the differences he or she may have from other children.
Down syndrome is a condition that causes physical and mental delays in child development due to excess genetic material. About one in every 800 babies are born with Down syndrome. Down syndrome can be detected before the child is born, but it is not preventable. Dr. John Langdon Down was the first who told about the condition in 1887. In 1959, it was discovered an extra chromosome was the cause of the condition.
Parents can get involved with the child’s school. Communication is important with the professionals who are working with the child. Encourage the child do things for themselves such as small chores and getting dressed. Teachers can help the child by using the child’s abilities to get them motivated. Get involved with the child’s Individual Education Program (IEP).
Dyscalculia is a set of math learning disabilities. Dyscalculia has different symptoms from person to person. The disability can affect visual to language abilities. The child’s eyes are not able to process what they see and it is difficult for them to comprehend what is heard.
A child with dyscalculia needs help with organizing. Expose the child to math every day so they can understand math is a frequent part of life. Give the child chores involving math such as counting papers for the class. Children can help around the house with measuring ingredients and strategies involving math. Parents and teacher should meet to determine the best ways to help the child blossom through this condition.
Dyslexia is a disability in children that causes problems reading, writing and spelling. It is the most common learning disability in children and can range from mild to severe. It is caused by a translation problem with the brain where images are not understandable. It is common for dyslexia to go undetected in the first grades of school.
Teachers and parents need to show positive support to the student. A dyslexic child may feel frustrated and it is important to be there to listen to their feelings. Often the disability gets overlooked and the child gets in trouble for not trying hard enough. Help the child set realistic goals for themselves. Encourage the child to get involved with school because many schools have activities for dyslexia. This may improve the child’s self esteem.
Dysnomia is a disorder affecting a child’s ability to recall words, numbers, and names from the memory. It is a learning disorder that affects math, writing, and speech. The child takes longer to finish tests or struggle to get the words out they need to express themselves. Some doctors classify dysnomia as a symptom of other disorders, such as ADHD and dyslexia, instead of an individual disorder.
Dysnomia does not have a cure, but teachers and parents can help the child’s skills by developing coping skills to help the child. Have the child make lists and repeat things out loud to help with the symptoms. Teach the child synonyms to use to replace other words that they cannot remember during tests or writing assignments.