Being a parent or teacher is never easy—especially when there are children with special needs involved. Unfortunately, there are a lack of resources available to parents and teachers who are trying to help children with special needs. If you want to enrich the life of your special needs child or student, follow these tips:
Special needs children often feel overwhelmed or confused when a teacher or parent gives them a series of instructions all at once. They may have trouble remembering how to start the task or may not know what to do after completing the first step in the instructions. To prevent this from happening in your home or classroom, it’s recommended that you break down instructions for a task into short, simple sentences that are easier for special needs children to follow. It may help if you ask the child to repeat the instructions back to you to ensure they are following along.
Focus on strengths.
Every child has strengths and weaknesses, even a child with special needs. It’s important to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses so you can focus on the strengths to boost his self-esteem and nurture his talent. For instance, a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may have trouble sitting still in class and paying attention to his teacher, but he may be an incredibly gifted artist. In this case, it’s important for teachers and parents not to focus solely on the child’s inability to sit still. Draw some attention to his strengths and allow him to continue exploring what he is capable of artistically.
Figure out how the child learns.
Everybody learns in a different way. Some children with special needs may be visual learners, while others may be auditory learners. Parents and teachers need to identify how the special needs children in their lives learn so they know how to interact with them. Visual learners will respond best when presented with written notes, diagrams, charts, and pictures, whereas auditory learners prefer to listen to lectures, classroom discussions, and conversations in study groups. There are also kinesthetic learners, who enjoy labs and other hands-on activities. Once you identify how your special needs child learns, you will have more success getting through to him in the classroom or at home.
Special needs children typically need praise when they do something well in the classroom or at home. But, the praise that you give these children needs to be specific so they are able to link it directly to the good behavior. For instance, instead of saying “good job,” say something along the lines of “You did a great job cleaning up after art class today.” This helps a child with special needs understand what behavior is being rewarded so he knows he should continue doing it in the future.
You may face unexpected obstacles when raising or teaching a special needs children. At times, you may feel like giving up. But, remember that parents and teachers make a huge difference in the lives of special needs children, so the reward of working with these children is well worth it.