Teacher Conference Materials

Who is the Child with Special Needs?

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.”


  1. Participants will have a better understanding of who the child with special needs is.
  2. Participants will have a better understanding of common disabilities and their characteristics.
  3. Participants will gain a greater understanding of the potential of these children.
  4. A child with special needs:
  5. Is a child first
  6. Is valued and Loved by God
  7. Has many abilities and great potential
  8. Can become a productive and contributing member of their community.
  9. The children we work with may take a little longer and need more help to reach their developmental milestones but the work and time is worth it.
  10. We know that they often surpass expectations.
  11. Psalms 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
  12. We want to give you the opportunity to know these wonderful children and their potential.
  13. My personal passion is that:

1)  All children have potential.

2)  All challenging behavior is not necessarily the child purposely being “bad”

3)  All children need to hear about Jesus

Romans 10:14 (NIV) How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

4)  All children need to experience the love of Jesus

Matthew 25:40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for

one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’


  1. Learning Disabilities and Asperger’s syndrome
  2. National Center for Learning Disabilities

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

  1. Common Learning Disabilities

Conditions that manifest themselves in difficulty learning to read, write, spell, speak, do mathematical calculations or listen.

  1. Dyslexia is the term associated with specific learning disabilities in reading.
  2. Dyscalculia is the term associated with specific learning disabilities in math.
  3. Dysgraphia is the term associated with specific learning disabilities in writing.
  4.   Associated Deficits and Disorders
  5.   Auditory Processing Deficit is the term used to describe a weakness in the ability to understand and use auditory information.
  6. Visual Processing Deficit is the term used to describe a weakness in the ability to understand and use visual information.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a brain-based disorder that results in significant inattention, hyperactivity, distractibility or a combination of these characteristics.
  10. Children with ADD generally have normal intelligence but have a difficult time focusing for an extended period of time.  Children with ADHD include those that have a difficult time focusing and have a hard time sitting or being still.


III. Autism Spectrum

  1. Children with autism have characteristics that range from mild to very severe.

The term “spectrum” in autism spectrum disorder refers to the wide range of symptoms and severity.

  1. Children on the autism spectrum may have difficulty with:
  2. Social interactions
  3. Communication skills
  4. Interest in rituals
  5. Poor play skills
  6. Presence of unusual mannerisms
  7. Characteristics of Autism
  8. Insistence on sameness;
  9. Resistance to change
  10. Little or no eye contact
  11. Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
  12. Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, echolalia language.
  13. If you said to a child with Autism, “Good morning Billy.” Billy would respond with “Good morning Bill,” rather than, “Good morning Miss Linda.” He would simply echo what was said to him.
  14. Prefer to being alone
  15. Tantrums, aggressive or self- injurious behaviors
  16. Spins self or objects
  17.   No fear of danger
  18. Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  19. Even with all these challenges, children with autism CAN learn,                                                                                   but they need to be taught with particular methods designed to fit them.
  20. Reputation of Behavioral Challenges
  21. Any child can and does have behavioral challenges.
  22. The key is to look for the reason behind the behavior and address it.
  23. One major cause of behavior challenges is frustration from not being able to communicate. Kerry will talk about the communication in her session.
  24. Another cause is not understanding what you want them to do.

Gloria will address behavior.


  1. Facts
  2. Although children with autism may appear to be cognitively delayed, only 45% of children with autism actually have some intellectual disability.  This means that 65% have typical intellectual abilities.
  3. Early diagnosis and intervention within a broad range of services reveal the true potential of these children.


IV Asperger’s

  1. Asperger’s is a mild form of autism and actually some medical and academics personal are no longer using this diagnosis.
  2. Children with Asperger’s syndrome are higher functioning and can be successfully integrated into the regular classroom with typically developing peers.
  3. They may need more training to behave in culturally appropriate ways
  4. They are often very intelligent and become engineers and expert in technical careers.


  • At age 4
  • Talks in full sentences
  • Makes eye contact
  • Social with other children
  • Don is an energetic little boy who has autism. When Don started at The Little Light House he did not have any language nor did he make any eye contact.  He displayed some aggression, and following a schedule was difficult for him.  Don’s first year at TLLH was a huge transition to following routines, making requests and being around people.   Don had to learn how to communicate, make eye contact, sit in a chair for more than 5-10 minutes, eat with utensils and follow his teacher’s directions.
  • By the time Don graduated from TLLH he could speak in sentences and hold a conversation. He learned to make eye contact both when you are speaking to him and when he is speaking to you.  Don followed routines and displayed appropriate behavior inside and outside the classroom.  His social awareness has dramatically increased to hugging peers and showing others that he cares.  (If time allows)  Don especially liked two girls in another classroom who had facial deformities.  He would arrive in the gym searching for them and lavish his affection on them.
  • Don’s teacher showed me a picture he had colored following a color code at the top of the page that had blue for the sky, white for the clouds, green for the trees and so on. Don colored one page following the code perfectly, and then asked for another one to color.  His teacher gave him one without the code on it, and he colored it beautifully, remembering the code from the first page.  She commented on the pretty clouds he colored, and he said that that’s how they are outside in the sky. It wasn’t just a page to do in class.  He connected with his world.
  • Although Don lacked many skills the first year at TLLH, he graduated in 2007 demonstrating skills appropriate for his age.


Beth the Spelling Champion
for her Elementary school at 9 years of age

  • Beth has Asperger’s syndrome. When Beth was 4.5 years of age when she started school at the LLH
  • Beth graduated from the LLH when she was 6 years old and went into a class with typical peers at a public school. In March Beth’s mother called to tell us that Beth is functioning very well in school. This year she not only won the spelling bee for all of third grade but she also won the school wide spelling contest and will go on to compete in the city wide spelling bee for children 6-12 years of age. on to compete in the city wide spelling bee for children 6-
  1. Chromosomal Abnormalities

  2. Conditions resulting from alternations in the genetic makeup, found in the chromosomes. This can be the presence of an additional chromosome, the absence of a chromosome or a chromosome that is damaged or out of place. We will talk about the most common chromosome disorder, Down syndrome.
  3. Down syndrome
  4. Is one of the most common chromosomal variations resulting in developmental delays.
  5. Characteristics of Down syndrome
  6. Delays in cognitive development, but they are ability to learn
  7. Low muscle tone which contributes to challenges in

1)  Low tone makes ordinary activities harder because the person with low tone    has to work harder to generate the needed amount of tone to do the activity.

2) One of the major activity that is effected is speech. The children however are able to learn sign language because many love to imitate and model what they see.

3) Developing strength, coordination and speech.

  1. Delightful and loving
  2. Ornery and mischievous

1) Sometimes young children with Down syndrome behavior can be challenging.

2) Often they are trying to get attention and other times they just do not understand what they are expected to do. Gloria will address behavior later today.

  1. Heart defects
  2. Vision and hearing impairments – which contribute to challenges in developing speech as well as intellectual development.


Larry at age 5

  • Began to read
  • Very social and loving
  • Plays golf and soccer
  • When Larry was born, his parents were told that he would do everything a ‘typical’ child would do, just at a slower pace. By the age of 5 Larry could add some simple numbers, read some common sight words, and tell you his full name and the names of everyone in his immediate family. While these achievements are impressive, perhaps the most impressive things about Larry are his social skills and his imagination. He speaks in complete sentences, and knows how to introduce himself by saying his name, ‘nice to meet you,’ and shaking with his right hand. He loves his friends and is the first one to offer a hug of condolence if need be. He also helps his teacher by reminding the other students to stay in their seats, as well as reminding them to speak ‘slow and clear,’ something he must have heard a few times before at home. He prefers imaginary monologues to playing with toys; oftentimes before school starts he is pretending to make chocolate donuts, and it is not unusual for him to come in pretending to be an owl, dog or bear.


  1. VI. Sensory Impairments

  2. Conditions that interfere with the process of hearing and seeing, which vary from mild to severe in nature.
  3. Hearing Impairments
  4. Hearing loss can be a result in in differences in physical development or in the nervous system.
  5. Hearing loss can occur alone or in combination with other conditions.
  6. Hearing loss affects language and communication which can impact socialization and behavior.
  7. Characteristics of a Hearing Loss
  8. Child does not respond to voices and noise. You may think the child is ignoring you, or not paying attention when they do not hear you.
  9. Slow to develop speech. Some children may be misdiagnosed with a speech impediment or having low cognitive abilities.
  10. Lack of appropriate social skills. The children may have difficulties playing with other children.                                       
  11. Visual Impairment
  12. Visual impairments can result from abnormalities in the physical development of the eyes or in the nervous system.
  13. Visual impairments can occur alone or in combination with other conditions.
  14. Visual impairments can affect mobility, socialization and learning in general.
  15. Characteristics
  16. A child with a visual impairment does not respond to faces or is delayed in responding. They can miss social cue seen on other’s faces and not respond appropriately.
  17. They may watch lights rather than respond to voices or people.
  18. Sometimes a child with poor vision can be mistaken for one with limited potential                                                
  19. Cortical Visual Impairment
  20. Cortical or Neurological Visual Impairment affects how the child’s brain processes what the eyes see.
  21. This is a condition of the central nervous system, or the brain, not the eye
  22. It is sometimes misdiagnosed as autism or blindness
  23. It is common in children born prematurely or with other neurologic challenges.


VII. Central Nervous System Disorder

A number of different conditions can result from irregularities at any stage of the nervous system development.


  1. Spina Bifida
  2. Is a common condition resulting from the failure of the spinal column, or back bones, to close appropriately during development before birth.
  3. It is considered to be an isolated neurological birth defect, not caused from heredity however a lack of folic acid which is one of the B vitamins may increase the chances of this condition developing.
  4. Characteristics
  5. Inability to move the lower extremities.
  6. Lack of sensation in the lower trunk and legs.
  7. Brain damage can occur as a result of excess fluid around the brain and spinal cord. But this does not always happen.
  8. Think about a time when you were sitting for a long period of time and one or both of your legs became numb. When you tried to stand on it, it felt like you would fall, you could not tell where your leg(s) were. This is a little what it is like for the child with SB.


  • At age 5
  • Uses a communication device to communicate.
  • Is walking with braces.
  • Is independent in wheelchair mobility.
  • Is socially appropriate.
  • Drew’s parents were told that he would not survive the pregnancy to be born and if he did he would live only a few hours once he was born. However, when Drew was born he did not need life support and cried immediately, what a wonderful sound to his parents. He did require surgery to correct a spinal malformation and a shunt to drain the fluid in his brain. Today Drew is a loving, determined little boy who enjoys school, his friends, and especially trains. He is able to independently maneuver his wheelchair and get in and out of the classroom chairs by himself. He is able to walk with a walker and braces. For a while his primary means of communication was an electronic voice output device but he now talks, continuously. He is bright and has a wonderful sense of humor.


  1. Cerebral Palsy
  2. A common condition resulting from damage to the brain before birth, at birth or immediately after birth.
  3. Characteristics
  4. Varies from mild to severe.
  5. Always affects motor skills development.
  6. A child with CP may only have a mild limp, but another child may not be able to roll over, sit up or walk, and everything in between.
  7. There can be challenges in ability to talk, drink and eat due to poor motor control.
  8. Many children with poor motor control have NORMAL cognitive abilities.
  9. They are often misunderstood.


  • Kevin was born with Cerebral palsy.
  • When he started at the LLH at age 3 he was totally dependent. He did not roll or sit up or move on the floor. He was not able to hold his head up when sitting or talk. Kevin could indicate yes and no by giggles for yes and sticking his lip out for no.
  • At age 6 Keith’s physical abilities are still very limited. He was still unable to use his arms, hands, legs and feet functionally. He continued to have poor head, neck and trunk control. Using a Tobi computer, which works by sending out an infrared beam, which connects with Keith’s eyes and selects the item that Kevin focuses on for 3-5 seconds, Kevin is able to express himself. As we suspected, this ability confirmed that Kevin has normal intelligence even though he is not able to control his body. Kevin is doing very well in regular classes at school with an aide to help him with his with physical needs.  He has also started his own company and foundation to help others like him.


VIII. Physical Abnormalities

  1. Conditions resulting from abnormalities in physical development that generally do not affect cognitive skills.
  2. Such as:
  3. Cleft palate and/or lip
  4. Club foot
  5. Absence of or malformation of limbs
  6. Children with physical abnormalities may require special help in the specific area associated with their abnormality i.e. such as speech therapy for a child with a cleft lip or palate or physical therapy for a child with a club foot.


  1. IX. Acquired Disabilities Which Cause Developmental Delays
  2. Accidents
  3. Illnesses and diseases
  4. Later onset genetic conditions


  1. X. Conclusion
  2. We are all created by God

Psalms 139:13-18

13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.

16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God! How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.

  1. You now have an overview of the reasons why a child may be identified as having special needs. The techniques you will be hearing about have been ones that we have found to be successful at our school when working with a variety of children.
  2. We hope that you will hear some things that you feel will help you out when working with your children and when you’re facing some the same types of challenges that we have faced.


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