Children with special needs either are born with or develops a condition that cause a delay in normal development for their age group. If developmentally delayed, their developments in one or more areas are significantly later than that of their peers. Some children are considered at risk for delay due to environmental factors such as poverty or low birth weight. However, with early intervention some children will have a good chance to catch up with their peers.
Other children may have a deficit or impairment, this just means that in some way they are different from other children not just delayed. This difference can include children with hearing or visual loss, mental retardation or motor disabilities. These children also benefit from early intervention.
Some of the indicators for a slow learner are late in talking, walking, and all around general immaturity. There are also children that are educable mentally retarded, these children have noticeable delays in most areas, including cognitive skills (thinking ability) but can function quite well in a regular early childhood program. Children with cognitive deficits seem to have more problems with memory and attention span. Because they are usually less mature than their peers are, often need help in social settings with peer-interaction. This can be helped by the adult or parent modeling appropriate behavior in social settings, and if in a classroom setting encourage other children to be accepting of others with slight differences.
When it comes to visual impairment there are different degrees ranging from complete sightlessness to those that see less clearly than normal persons do. Some indicators of possible visual problems include red or watery eyes, have discharge, frequent styes or seem uncoordinated. If these problems are on going to be safe, take your child to an ophthalmologist to check for visual deficits. Some behaviors you may want to notice are frequently rubbing of the eyes, tilting the head, continually blinking, frowning or squinting or cannot recognize familiar people from a distance.
Children with mild hearing loss may go unnoticed for some time. Frequent ear infections can affect hearing so be alert to potential problems. Notice if the child seems not to hear when you speak to them or shows signs that their ears may hurt, this may be cause for concern.. Those with severity of hearing loss may be helped by a combination of methods including the use of hearing aids and sign language. Because hearing is tied to effective communication, the use of these aids will help the child to understand their surroundings.
Problems in communication could stem from a variety of causes such as; inadequate language stimulation, poor articulation might be caused by a malformation in the structure of the mouth. Encourage the child to participate in social activities by encouraging all forms of communication, even non-verbal forms. Create a need for speech, pretend to misunderstand the request of the child made through gestures. If child still does not talk, be patient, listen and give them your undivided attention. You want to be careful not to criticize incorrect speech but praise appropriate speech when it is used.
Some children have physical disabilities that can encompass a wide range of motor limitations. These can range from being slightly clumsy to have almost no muscular control. One of the more common motor impairments is cerebral palsy, this is a central nervous system dysfunction that causes children to be uncoordinated and awkward or sometimes totally helpless. Just because they may have physical limitations, it does not mean that he or she is necessarily mentally impaired. Some motor problems can be corrected surgically or with orthopedic aids such as casts, others can be improved with physical therapy sessions, however a specialist will be needed to make that determination. Whatever the limitations are, it is important to help children feel as independent and involved as possible. You can encourage independence by placing materials within their reach, or by keeping pathways accessible if they use crutches or a wheelchair. Adapt activities to encourage participation and inclusion, special needs children can lead a very productive and happy life with just a little outside assistance