I will like to use this brief write-up to bring more clarity into some misconceptions about special educational needs.
It is perceived and believed in our societies that the children with special educational needs majorly exhibit physical disabilities like an impaired sight, inability to use the limbs among others.
But in realty special educational needs are requirements for students who may have learning differences or disabilities that impact on their effective learning especially within a mainstream classroom setting. Hence such students will require special educational support which come in varying forms such as special trained teachers, special learning equipment, psychologist, therapist, behavioural assessments etc.
In particular, many of the below named learning differences found in many students don’t necessarily present in form physical disabilities but they attract special educational needs. They include
Dyslexia. …Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)…Dysgraphia. …Dyscalculia. … Dysplasia….Auditory processing disorder. … Language processing disorder. … Nonverbal learning disabilities. … Visual perceptual/visual motor deficit etc
There are also many early (later) signs of an Intellectual Disability that are seen in some children For example, children may:
Sit up, crawl, or walk later than other children.
Learn to talk later or have trouble speaking.
Have trouble understanding social rules.
Have trouble seeing the consequences of their actions.
Have trouble solving problems among other things.
The above outline of possible character traits in many children is to help you understand and deduce that ‘not all learning differences presents as physical disabilities but are still sensory or intellectual disabilities.
In addition there are also some other types of special educational disabilities found in children. They may include:
Cerebral palsy which is due to an injury to the developing brain before or during birth.
Epilepsy a neurological condition where a person has a tendency to have recurring seizures due to a sudden burst of electrical activity in the brain. They can cause unusual movements or odd feelings or sensations.
Down Syndrome is a congenital condition usually characterized some degree of limitation of intellectual ability and social skills
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder which involves involuntary and repetitive vocalizations, sounds and movements called tics. Tics may present as eye blinking, nose twitching, tongue clicking, spinning around etc
An increased awareness about how our children learn: process information, assimilate and communicate will go a long way to improve their learning abilities and even boost confidence. Learning abilities is diverse and therefore every child deserves a fair chance to learn with optimal support that makes the child THRIVE and succeed.
As I conclude, permit me to say that my non-medical background and over 6 years of educational consultancy have witnessed the concerns of many parents which is centered around “the poor academic performance of their children”. Even with the engagement of extra lessons at home outside of the classroom setting has not yielded long term academic success.
This is my submission that Academic Excellence does not stand alone. It is important to understand the abilities, talents, weaknesses and emotional status of children and in doing so parents and teachers alike should become more vigilant about how they learn, interact and communicate, no child is the same.
Secondly a child who learns differently is not dull, there just needs to be more specially trained teachers who can intervene in their learning in order to bring out the best outcomes in them.