Your child means the world to you. Their success is all that you desire for them. As a parent, you do everything possible to help them achieve it. But the usual challenges associated with parenting are doubled when you have a child with special needs at home. A special needs child requires the right environment and appropriate guidance to achieve their academic potential. We are here to help you get a brief insight into special education and how to help your child with special education needs.
What is a SPED kid?
A SPED kid (also called a special child or special needs child) requires special attention in education. Their learning is affected due to an underlying disability or impairment that makes understanding and learning new concepts more challenging than most children of their age group. These kids may have learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities, or emotional difficulties.
How do you know if your child needs special education?
As a parent, it may be perplexing at times not to know whether your child’s difficulties at school are due to an underlying learning disability or other concerns in school. In some kids, the difficulty in learning will be evident right from the early years. But in some others, the problem becomes obvious only as the child grows and school tasks get difficult for them to deal with.
The learning difficulties may vary from mild to severe depending on the underlying condition or disability. A special educator understands every child’s unique needs and provides an individualized special education program (IEP) after an in-depth evaluation and observation. The earlier we can identify a learning issue, the better we can help a child grow and develop skills to thrive and succeed in life.
Some of the indicators of learning problems include,
- Mixing up small and capital letters
- Missing, adding, or replacing the letters in words
- Reversing the letters in words like u for n, m for w, p with b, 9 with 6, etc.
- Difficulty in reading, writing
- Incomplete notes
- Always puts on wrong shoes on feet(left-right confusion)
- Difficulty pointing greater & smaller, more or less
- Problem grouping based on size, shape, and color
- Difficulty naming or copying numerals
- Difficulty understanding the concept of units and places
- Problems in mathematical judgement and reasoning
- Poor comprehension
- Poor organizational skills
- Confused and fidgety
- Lack of interest in school activities
- Lacks initiative in group activities
- Has difficulty following multistep directions
- Difficulty in transferring and generalizing information
10 Special Education Strategies That Work for All Kids
Every child has a different learning style – they may be visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or tactile learners. Learning is more effective when multiple senses are involved in the learning process. More particularly, while teaching special needs children, utilizing a multi-sensory approach, makes learning less arduous and more joyous for them.
Some of the strategies that may be adapted based on children’s needs include:
Easy to difficult
Teaching what is easy and more interesting for the child improves their involvement and participation. It makes learning easier.
Concrete to abstract
Children will have difficulty understanding an abstract concept. For example, to teach the concept “night”, we must teach them the activities connected with ‘night’ like the moon, stars, sleep, bed, etc. It helps make them understand the concepts clearly.
Known to unknown
A child’s current level should be the starting point for teaching unknown skills. For instance, to teach children to count from 5-10, we need to start from 1-5 and then 6,7, 8, etc.
Simple to complex
Teaching must begin at a point where the kids are certain to be correct. Start with simple steps. For example, to teach them to write, we must first guide them on holding a pencil, then move on to tracing, joining dots, copying, and writing.
Particular to general
General things are hard to understand. It is important to teach children specific things and proceed to the general facts.
Empirical to rational
It is always better to begin teaching with what the children see, feel, touch and experience and then move on to the rational part for a better learning experience.
Psychological to logical
By psychological, it means the psychology of the child, his interests, thoughts, and his point of view. Logical thinking, on the other hand, is viewing things from a generally accepted point of view.
Whole to part
When introducing a new concept, learning from the whole is easier to understand than the part. For example, to teach about seeds, roots, leaves, etc., we need to start from the plant or a tree.
Near to far
We need to start teaching the child what is immediately around his/her environment. Gradually, we can move to what is far from him/her.
Actual to representative
Showing real things will make learning and remembering easier for the child. Slowly, we can shift to representatives like images, etc.
Educators provide children with examples and help the learners to arrive at their conclusions through interaction and participation.
How Do I Get My Child Into Special Needs School?
Special needs schools are for children who need additional care to help them learn, develop and reach their potential. For admission into a special school in India, you need a disability certificate from the Central/State government, issued by a medical board comprising experts in the field of ENT, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology, Psychiatry, and Psychology/Neurology.
How do you handle a special child?
Children with special needs require specialized instructions to help them learn and reach their potential. A special educator handles special children,
- By being patient and understanding
- By modeling and demonstrating
- Breaking information into simple steps to follow
- Understanding their learning style and using methodology best suited for the child
- Being flexible
- Encouraging them to decision making
Individualized education helps them to adapt to the environment that includes learning(by using proven strategies), behaving according to situations(by reinforcing their good behaviours), and performing activities of daily living(eating, dressing, grooming, toileting, brushing).
What is IEP?
An individualized Education Program (IEP) is a specially designed education program that meets the needs of an individual child with an identified disability which may be emotional, behavioral, cognitive, intellectual, learning, hearing, speech, or vision. An IEP,
- Helps get individualized attention and training to enrich required skills.
- Provides specialized instruction methodologies and creative strategies.
- Is a goal-based program – Goals may be short-term and long-term that are specific, measurable, easily attainable, result-oriented, and time-bound.
- Offers systematic monitoring and review.
Why Special Education Is Important?
The main aim of education is to help children develop, grow and be part of mainstream society. Each child has unique needs; special education allows children with special needs to reach their potential. In special education, what is to be learned is broken down into simple steps depending on the needs and difficulties of a child. Special education helps,
- Get quality education in line with their individual needs
- Gain a higher level of independence
- Help reach their full potential
- Provide an appropriate learning environment
- Enhance confidence and self-worth
A child may struggle at school for various reasons. If your child’s struggles are in reading, writing, attention, sitting tolerance or copying from the board, etc., it is recommended to consult a qualified special educator for child-specific advice. Their difficulty may be mild or due to an underlying learning, developmental, emotional, or behavioral disorder. A special educator can perform a detailed evaluation and suggest educational interventions depending on the specific needs of the child.
When we identify the difficulty earlier, intervention can be provided earlier. It can create a huge difference in the child’s learning skills, confidence, and self-image.
A child with any of the following conditions is eligible for special education:
- Specific learning disabilities (Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, etc.)
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Hearing Impaired
- Visually Impaired
- Intellectual Disability
- Cerebral Palsy
When a child is not able to keep pace with his/her grade level students, or if the child is not able to understand what is taught, and/or is not able to meet the needs due to any kind of issues or disabilities, seek the help of a special educator for further guidance.
A clinical psychologist can evaluate and understand your child’s difficulties through an in-depth assessment. If intervention is imperative for education, the clinical psychologist will recommend special education.
When educators and parents work together to achieve the goals set for a child, the results are always immense. Often parents think that the difficulty their child exhibits are temporary, and will be resolved when they are in higher classes. It is not the truth. The foundation that children gain in lower classes is essential for building new skills in higher classes.
If special education is recommended for your child, do not hesitate to seek the help of a special educator/remedial teacher. Special education provides the extra attention your child needs to help build their foundation for an improved learning experience and success.
Seek professional help if your child is struggling in academics. An in-depth evaluation will help understand the reason for your child’s difficulty. Identifying the problem and providing intervention at an early age is vital to help the child develop and reach his/her potential.
The child will be assessed by a Clinical Psychologist for his/her developmental age, mental age, social age, social adaptive skills, and the corresponding IQ/SQ (Intelligent quotient and Social Quotient).
The evaluation process will include a clinical interview, developmental/functional assessment, clinical observation, and administration of diagnostic tests. Diagnosis of neurodevelopmental disorder, if any, will be done by a psychiatrist/neurologist/developmental pediatrician/clinical psychologist.
In special education, a special educator may perform a grade level assessment to understand your child’s grade level and his/her areas of difficulty. Grade level assessment helps design an Individualized Education Program (IEP) that meets your child’s specific needs.