The term “special needs” is usually associated with children with disabilities who find learning and communication challenging. It can mean anything from slight learning disabilities to profound retardation.
Special needs include people with autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome, dyslexia, blindness, ADHD, and cystic fibrosis. They can also include cleft lips or palates, port-wine stains, and missing limbs.
How to train children with special needs
Always introduce yourself first, show them you care and love them too.
You have to be very observant and vigilant because some children with special needs perceive sensory input differently and may be unable to verbalise discomfort.
Always put safety first and arrange the environment for physical and emotional comfort.
Please do not stick to one style of training or teaching. You must use various methods with special children to help them understand and master new skills.
Introduce your set of rules and apply those rules consistently.
Use visual, auditory or tactile cues
Having the right cues in an environment can mean the difference between participation and non-participation for many children with special needs.
Auditory cues are clapping, snapping or whistling. Tactile cues such as gently touching a person’s shoulder, offering a blanket or other soft fabric, or providing silly putty are easy ways to mark a transition and get a person’s attention.
A positive attitude is the most important quality for anyone working with children with special needs.
Tips for dealing with a child with learning disabilities
Keep things in perspective
Become your expert
Be an advocate for your child
Remember that your influence outweighs all others
Focus on strengths, not just weaknesses
Clarify your goals
Be a good listener
Offer new solutions
Keep the focus
Children with special needs are different but still wonderfully loving and fun. More understanding must occur so there is no judgement or fear of being around these children. Build their confidence with positive affirmation always.