Four Basics to Understand when Working with Children with Special Needs
Love them, understand them, communicate with them, train them
I Love Them (slide 2)
A. A child with special needs is love and accepted by Jesus
Luke 18:16 NIV
But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
B. We all want and need to be loved. Who could not help but to love these sweet kids?
C. We all have some imperfection and while our culture and society might tell us that some of us deserve to be loved more than others because we are better looking, or kinder, or maybe have more money or more influence, that is not the truth.
D. Now, I want to insert here that I am a Christian and I can’t help but use the Bible as my primary reference source when it comes to moral and ethical issues. I am not attempting to unduly influence anyone and I don’t want to offend anyone, but it is just who I am. Most people who don’t consider themselves to be Christians acknowledge that Jesus was at least a good moral teacher. So please when I refer to scriptures from the Bible at least hear them as good moral points of view. If you question any of the statements I will be glad to give you the references.
E. We are told in the New Testament to not show favoritism to anyone. Jesus, a good moral teacher, said we are to love each other. Not just those that are easy to love, but all people.
F. I am here because I truly love the people of Haiti, which includes each one of you. I also love children, especially those with special needs and want to make a difference in their lives by making a difference in the lives of those that care for and teach them.
G. You can’t tell from the outside of the package all the wonders it might hold inside, and so it is with each individual. We need to take the time to see what’s inside.
II Understand Them
A. Identifying the child with special needs
1. Sometimes the child with special needs are very obvious. They may look different, they may move different, talk differently, their learning differences and needs are obvious.
2. Sometimes they are not so obvious at first and may already be in your schools. What I want to do is talk with you about with you about the four most common diagnoses of special needs that you are likely already encountering.
B. The first one is: Learning Disabilities
1. These are challenges that manifest themselves in difficulty learning to read, write, spell, speak, do mathematical calculations or listen.
a. Dyslexia is the term associated with specific learning disabilities in reading.
b. Dyscalculia is the term associated with specific learning disabilities in math.
c. Dysgraphia is the term associated with specific learning disabilities in writing.
d. Or a combination of the above
e. Which effects the ability to learn social skills and expected behavior.
2. National Center for Learning Disabilities
a. Learning disabilities are not a prescription for failure. With the right kinds of instruction, guidance and support, there are no limits to what individuals with LD can achieve.” Sheldon H. Horowitz, Ed.D., Director of LD Resources
3. Associated Deficits and Disorders
a. Auditory Processing Deficit is the term used to describe a weakness in the ability to understand and use information one hears.
b. Visual Processing Deficit is the term used to describe a weakness in the ability to understand and use visual information., or what they see.
c. Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities is the term used to describe the characteristics of individuals who have unique learning and behavioral profiles that may overlap with dyslexia, dyscalculia and dysgraphia but that differ in significant ways.
d. Executive Functioning Deficits is the term used to describe weaknesses in the ability to plan, organize, strategize, remember details and manage time and space efficiently.
e. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder ADHD is a brain-based disorder that results in significant inattention, hyperactivity, distractibility or a combination of these characteristics.
1. Children with ADD generally have normal intelligence but have a difficult time focusing for an extended period of time.
2. Children with ADHD include those that have a difficult time focusing and have a hard time sitting or being still.
4. May talk about myself – story of English teacher, other teacher and elementary principle
C. High Functioning Autism
1. Autism is a spectrum disorder. There are those who are very high functioning and those who are severely involved and everything in between.
2. High functioning Autism use to be called Asperger Syndrome
a. Most likely everyone in this room had a child with High Functioning Autism in their class when you were growing up or as teachers you now have them in your classroom.
b. The child most likely has no formal diagnosis, bu you know that they were just different.
3. These children can be successfully integrated into the regular classroom with typically developing peers, and into society as they mature.
4. Children with high functioning Autism sometimes have:
a. Poor Social interactions
b. Poor Communication skills
c. Poor play skills
d. Interest in rituals or always doing things the same way.
e. Presence of unusual mannerisms
f. These children also:
1. Often prefer to be alone
2. May need more training to behave in culturally appropriate ways, which they can learn
3. They may have digestive disorders and/or be picky eaters
4. They are often very intelligent and become engineers or experts in technical careers.
5. Children with High Functioning Autism and some with Learning Disabilities are often thought of as problem children. Sometimes their behavior can be a challenge. We will talk about this in just a little bit.
I want to tell you about one little girl we had in our school.
Lilly has High Functioning Autism. When Lilly was 4.5 years of age when she started school at the LLH. Lilly graduated from the LLH when she was 6 years old and went into a class with typical peers at a public school. Three years later when Lilly was in the third-grade Lilly’s mother called to tell us that she was functioning very well in school academically and socially. That year Lilly not only won the spelling bee for all of third grade but she also won the school wide spelling contest and went on to compete in the city-wide spelling bee for children 6-12 years of age. This is for all children, not children with special needs.
Some people you have heard of that had or have learning disabilities or high functioning Autism include Alexander Gram Bell, the inventor of the telephone, Thomas Alva Edison, the inventor of the electric light, the camera and many other things we use daily. Albert Einstein, the famous physicist who is known to be a Genius is also thought to have had a learning disability or high functioning, Henry Ford, the inventor of the motor car, as well as some of the people that have brought computers and the internet into our lives.
Talking about behavior leads us to Sensory Processing Disorder. Sensory Processing disorder is another common but generally over looked development challenge.
D. Sensory Processing
1. Sensory Processing is the way our brain processes the information it receives from our sensory system. This includes our five basic senses, hearing, touch, taste, smell, or sight.
2. A Sensory Processing Disorder is a difference in the way one perceives and responds to typical input from one or a combination of our five senses. People can be over- or under-responsive to typical input such as being very sensitive to everyday sounds like a car horn honking, or not tolerating clothing made from some materials.
3. We all have some sort of sensory processing challenges.
a. I am one of the millions that do not like tags in the back of their clothing.
b. Other common challenges are being startled by unexpected touch’
c. Some people do not like certain foods based on texture or color. It is more than just no liking the taste of some foods. I worked with a woman that would not eat anything white. This included potatoes, white bread, vanilla ice cream, or southern cream gravy. All things I really like.
4. Sensory processing challenges can affect their ability to learn which often is reflected in their behavior.
a. Behavior that is a result of true a sensory need or processing challenge is not the child willfully being bad.
b. Sensory input that does not bother us, such as the noise level, can be too much for them.
c. Children on the Autism spectrum and some with other learning disabilities may also have sensory processing challenges.
d. Some of the students at our school wear headphones that are not connected to anything to cut down on the volume of the sound around them. Other adaptions and strategies to help these children can be found in the adaptions book in the LLH curriculum on The Little Anchor web site. It is free, but it is in English. I will leave the websites up on the last slide.
5. This is something to be aware of and to consider when you are dealing with inappropriate behavior. We will be talking about this more in a few minutes.
E. Visual Impairments
1.This is uncorrected, or uncorrectable vision impairments can also lead to a challenge for the child in your classroom.
Visual impairments can result from abnormalities in the physical development of the eyes or in the nervous system.
Visual impairments can occur alone or in combination with other conditions.
Visual impairments can affect mobility, socialization and learning in general
2. These children will most likely become obvious as you get to know them.
a. They may squint to see the board.
b. They may be copying from a neighbor’s paper rather than the board because they can’t see the board.
c. They may complain of a headache at about the same time each day.
d. They may be clumsy, have trouble with stairs, not be able to judge the distances well or catch a ball.
3. Some simple ideas that might help:
a. Some children will need to sit in the front of the room to see the board.
b. Some may need extra light or extra time to copy information off the board.
c. Some may need extra light to see their papers.
d. Others may benefit from translucent colored plastic sheet to put over the page to help them read.
1. I don’t know much other than that this is possible.
2. If you would like more information on working with children with visual impairments that are effecting their ability to learn you can contact us through The Little Anchor and we will get you some information. Also, Nicodem might be able to help you.
4. Cortical Visual Impairment
a. Cortical or Neurological Visual Impairment affects how the child’s brain processes what the eyes see.
b. Medical science and Special Education have joined forces in the past 20 years to understand this condition and discover how to help these children learn to see.
III. Communicate with Them
A. The Definition of Communication
1. The exchange of thoughts, messages or information by using speech, signals, writing or behavior.
2. Involves direction to another person who in turn provides tangible or social rewards.
When working with children who have challenges with communication, it is important to give children a means to communicate and recognize all attempts at communication.
B. We also need to recognize that all behavior is an attempt to communicate something.
C. Critical Communication Skills
1. Asking for a desired outcome, I’m thirsty, My hands need to be washed
2. Asking for assistance, Help me please. Pick me up please
3. Asking for a break, I’m tired, I’m need to go to the bathroom
4. Affirming, Yes, That is nice
5. Rejecting, No, I don’t like that, Please don’t
a. For their self-image, safety, behavior control it is also important them to say no appropriately.
D. These skills are critical because if the child cannot calmly and effectively engage in each skill, then the child will most likely try other means to obtain the same outcome, which often are mistaken for purposely misbehaving for no appropriate reason.
E. Other important keys when establishing communication with a child
It is important to take a little more time to get to know your students. Sometimes, especially when they are young, you might need to help them learn to identify and express their emotions properly.
F. I don’t know how many of you have iPads available but they are proving to be very useful in helping a child communicate. We use the iPad for communication or the educational games we select. We do lock out the internet and other games that are “just for fun”. It is important if they are using the iPad for communication and educational purposes that they understand it’s purpose.
G. For the young ones and those that may be slow to develop speech-using pictures to communicate their needs and chooses is helpful.
H. Also, letting all children know the school day schedule also help alleviate some behavior challenges. We use picture schedules in all of our classrooms, once the children are able to read a written schedule is helpful.
I. Again, more information on ways to help children with communication can be found on The Little Anchor, www.thelittleanchor.org.
J. Story of Daniel.
“One year shortly after I had come to work at TLLH we had a week were a lot of staff members were sick. One day there were 4 or 5 teachers out sick, Gloria and her assistant were among those sick. So I had to take care of her class that day with the help of a very new staff member. Well, thing did not go as smoothly for me as they did for Gloria.
There was one boy in the class named Daniel. He was about 10, we did let the children stay longer back then, and autistic. Not having Gloria that was a challenge for him and the fact that the class was a little out of control in general was an added stress on him. At one point he was disobeying and really getting to me, out of frustration I turned to him and said, “Daniel, do you need to go to the quiet room?” He looked at me and said, “Yes!” He knew he needed a break in order to get control of himself again.
Well, that moment taught me a lot. I let another adult take him out and instead of going to the quiet room which was looked upon as punishment, she took him on a walk and to the break room, which was empty at the time, to sit and calm down. He needed a break and he knew it, I just had to give him the opportunity to express his needs.
IV. Train Them
A. Behavior Training
1. We know we need to teach children to talk, read, do math, so why not how to behave.
2. We think that behavior management is about managing the children’s behavior, and it is.
3. But it is just as much, if not more, about managing our own behavior. We emphasize the positive as a way of building self-esteem and confidence, and it’s also one way we model for the children what we want to see and hear from them.
B. All discipline should be grounded in love.
1. Have the child’s best interest at heart.
2. Focus on what you want the child to do rather than what he should not do.
3. Look at the abilities of the child rather than the disabilities.
4. Look for behavior you can praise.
C. One way to approach behavior is to investigate what is going on in the child.
4. difficulty with transitions
5. not understanding the task？
Changing behavior is much easier if you understand where it comes from and what purpose it serves.
D. Another approach is to investigate what is going on in us.
2. expectations too low or too high
3. lack of communication
4. lack of respect
a. Inconsistency teaches a child that we are not dependable, and it doesn’t matter if he listens to us or not.
E. Tell the child what you want them to do, not what they are not to do.
1. They will hear and focus on the last thing they hear. If you say, “Get down, don’t stand on the table.” The child hears “Stand on the table.”
2. Instead end with what you want them to do. “Don’t stand on the table, get down.” “We eat on the table and we stand on the floor”
3. For very young children and children with special needs or cognitive delays, make it very simple. “We keep our feet on the floor.” “Feet belong on the floor.”
V. Closing I will summarize the four main action points:
A. Love them
We all want and deserve to be loved. To love any child, or person, we must know that we are loved by the highest power in the universe. We are all created by God: Psalm 139:14 (NASB) 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.”
Created in the image of God: Genesis 1:27 (NASB)
27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Created to have fellowship with Him: 1 John 1:3 (ESV)
3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ.
Created to be crowned with glory and Honor: Hebrews 2:7 (ESV)
7 You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor,
Created to live with Him forever.
John 3:16 (NASB)
16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
B. Understand them
Look beyond their physical appearance or disruptive behavior and ask yourself if something else is influencing this child’s behavior. They could be dealing with one of the challenges we have discussed or they could be dealing with emotional or trauma or both.
C. Communicate with them.
Recognize that all behavior is an attempt to communicate something. Help then find a more appropriate means of communication that making a loud noise or acting out. Focus on positive training.
D. Train them
Focus on the child’s abilities. Look for something to praise. Consider what lead to the inappropriate behavior. Consider your mood, what is going on in yourself. Be consistent.
VI. Thank you
A. When looking for resources and information online, look for something from a reputable organization. If the website want to sell you something look for other resources to either confirm the first one or one that does not try you to sell you something.
B. Remember our resources
The Little Anchor www.thelittleanchor.org
1) Written by the staff of the (Little Light House)
2) Links to other good, trustable websites – written by a well known source
a) Offers reasonable information
b) Does not offer a “cure” for a developmental or genetic disorder
c) Does not ask you to buy anything or pay for any information
d) Plenty of good, free, reliable information out there, if in question ask the LLH
C. For the next three days we will be primarily discussing the different sensory systems and the sensory processing challenges that can develop within each system.
a. I know you will hear descriptions of children you currently have in your classrooms.
b. You might even hear some descriptions of yourself, as we all have at least one sensory processing challenge.
c. We will also discuss interventions and how you can help the children work through these challenges.
Thank you more