“Special needs” is a tricky term to define, because the challenges that most people think of when this term is mentioned are varied and hard to categorize into one specific field. Any child whose needs are outside of the norm might be considered to be a “special needs child” – or, more politically, a child with special needs. These needs can range from dietary restrictions caused by common food allergies to developmental disorders that inhibit a child’s ability to learn at the same rate as their peers. Those children who fall under that category are said to have “learning disabilities.” (http://specialchildren.about.com/od/gettingadiagnosis/p/whatare.htm)
Types Of Learning Disabilities
Learning disabilities come in as many different variations as special needs do, and they can affect different children to individualized degrees. Some are exhibited alongside other disorders, such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, auditory discrimination, visual perception, and attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, or ADD/ADHD.
Characteristics Of Learning Disabilities
Those who suffer from learning disabilities may find that they suffer from symptoms that include short attention spans, difficulties following directions, poor hand-eye coordination, mixing up letters while reading (reading “was” instead of “saw,” or “tub” instead of “but”), trouble with spatial concepts, and difficulty in controlling their impulses in a way that makes simple childishness appear innocuous. There are many additional characteristics that can be telltale signs of learning disabilities, and it’s worth knowing that many of these characteristics are expressed in behaviors that have come to be viewed as lazy, spoiled, stubborn or underachieving. Instead of jumping to judgmental conclusions about the motivations of their children’s behaviors, parents can investigate the possibilities of a previously undiagnosed learning disability – a non-judgmental approach that can productively lead to a child’s learning disabilities being, in some cases, made easier to live and deal with.
How To Work With A Child With A Learning Disabilities
For parents and caregivers, working with special needs children of any stripe can be challenging – but when it comes to learning disabilities, particularly those with more severe expressions in a child’s behavior, this frustration can be overwhelming. When trying to teach someone for whom learning is a challenge, there are some simple steps parents, carergivers, and teachers can take to have a greater chance of successfully communicating their ideas. These include taking the time to carefully explain a series of simple directions, using different methods of teaching like drawing (visual), talking (aural) and games (kinetic) in order to access the learning path that the child is most able to take advantage of. Establishing routines that a child with learning disabilities can follow and come to rely on is another way to increase the likelihood of meeting with success. Finally, encouraging any child to ask questions will help them engage with the process of learning, and for special needs children who may feel too “slow” to participate in large groups, personalized attention and encouragement – particularly coming from authority figures who the child respects – can go a long way toward capturing their imagination and attention.