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How Can Teachers Support Children With Special Needs?

Every child is unique and so are their needs. Children with special needs (CWSN) are specially-abled children who need extra care, motivation, and attention. However, the requirements of these children depend on the kind of disability they have. CWSN requires medical attention, frequent medical tests, and accommodation for disabilities. Their disabilities or special conditions can be categorized into the sections mentioned below.

  • Physical
  • Sensory
  • Developmental
  • Behavioral or emotional

Let us understand these disabilities in detail and how parents and teachers help such children.

Types of Disabilities in CWSN

  • Physical

Physical disabilities make it difficult for children to maintain their balance or movements. These include conditions such as muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, cerebral palsy, and locomotor disability. Parents and teachers must remain aware of the medical needs of students. To help such children, they can introduce physical therapy and balance training in the child’s routine. These exercises strengthen the core and help children regain their posture and movements.

  • Sensory

Sensory disabilities include hearing loss, low vision, and blindness. Such disabilities may also impact other senses of students. This kind of disability may happen due to injury or infection. At times, genetics may also play a role. Teachers and parents can help CWSNs having sensory disorders by reducing visual distractions. Moreover, they can simplify the work or activities for children with sensory impairments.

  • Developmental

Children suffering from developmental disabilities may suffer from down syndrome and an autism spectrum disorder. These disabilities affect the communication abilities and behavior of students. To keep such children calm and involved in studies, educators and parents need to be patient. Moreover, they should express their love and concern to get attached to CWSN (Children with Special Needs).

  • Behavioral or Emotional

Children with behavioral issues find it difficult to express themselves and learn new things. Moreover, they get depressed or anxious at times.

Taking care of the needs of such children might become challenging for educators. Moreover, they need to mold their teaching styles to be in sync with the requirements of such children. To bridge this gap and provide a wholesome learning experience to children with special needs (CWSN), the Ministry of Education of the Government of India has launched an initiative named Samagra Shiksha. This program follows certain objectives to offer the best learning experiences to students.

  • Identification and assessment of CWSN
  • Development of teaching-learning material
  • Environment building and orientation program to create a positive attitude
  • Provision of Braille books and large print books
  • Provision for therapeutic services and corrective surgeries

How Can Teachers Help Students With Special Needs?

According to the reports published by the National Center for Learning Disabilities, one in five children has a learning and/or attention disability that affects their classroom learning. Therefore, it has become the duty of parents and teachers to support children with special needs (CWSN). Here are a few simple things that teachers can do to improve the learning experiences for such children.

Tips to Support CWSN

  • Lean on others

Taking help from different stakeholders will help teachers create a wholesome learning environment for teachers. They can collaborate with parents, case managers, and therapists to understand the unique needs of their students. Such collaboration becomes more important if the classes are running online and teachers do not have the leeway to connect with their students face-to-face.

  • Stay organized

Creating an organized learning environment will help students focus more on their studies. Teachers can create an enriching classroom environment with minimal distractions. For example, they can make dedicated areas for specific activities. Creating a relaxation space within the classroom will help students take a break if they feel overwhelmed.

  • Set clear goals

Teachers should read through the IEP (Individualized Education Plan) to understand what they can do to help CWSN. It contains clear goals and classroom accommodations for teachers to be followed.

  • Know the uniqueness of each student

When teaching a class of 40-50 students or more, teachers should understand that the learning curve for each student differs. They may not pick up the lecture at the same pace. Some may need visual help while others may require audio clips to understand the topics. Therefore, educators must give their students lots of opportunities to explore different subjects.

  • Keep instructions simple

If students feel challenged when taking lots of information at once, teachers must break down the instructions into smaller tasks. It will make them feel that they are accomplishing things throughout the day.

  • Embrace advocacy

Teachers should be advocates for the needs of their students. Reasonable classroom sizes and the time to prepare themselves before every lecture should be there before attending to the needs of students with disabilities.

  • Create opportunities for students to succeed

Students with special needs may feel that they need to put in extra effort to get success. This might overwhelm them and they may not enjoy the learning process. Therefore, teachers should create opportunities for students to succeed.

  • Don’t feel pressure to be successful

Teachers should create opportunities for success but should not take the pressure to be successful. They may make mistakes on their way when attending to the needs of their students.

The above tips will help teachers understand the needs of their students. Moreover, it will help students with special needs perform better in the classroom. If they are allowed to learn at their pace, they may learn well.

Teaching Tips and Strategies

  • Set a tone for the classroom

Making students feel welcome is crucial if teachers want to contribute to their overall success. Therefore, they should make students feel comfortable and safe in the classroom. Moreover, they should let every student know that they are valued and the class will work together as a team to lift every student.

  • Support students in their learning

Supporting students and equipping them with the right resources is crucial for their learning. Teachers should support children with special needs in every step they take in the learning process. By using techniques like scaffolding and leveraging the right learning materials, teachers can ensure that their students are learning and succeeding.

  • Structure lesson plans and makes them more inclusive

Instead of creating a separate lesson plan for students with disabilities, teachers should create a structured lesson plan for every student in the classroom. This will help students without disabilities learn about the struggles faced by CWSN.

  • Communicate clearly

Communication plays a critical role when imparting knowledge to students with special needs. At the start of the session, teachers must communicate their expectations with students and their parents. Also, they should make sure that their students understand how they need to prepare for different assignments and homework.

  • Partner students with disabilities with students without disabilities

Teachers should not divide the class; instead, they should group students with and without disabilities together. It will help children without disabilities understand the challenges faced by children with special needs (CWSN). Moreover, growing and learning together will make them more empathic to the needs of such children.

  • Give the same assignments to all students

To make CWSNs understand they are at the same level as their peers, teachers should provide the same assignment to every student. Instead of giving different projects, teachers should assign the same topic and help children with disabilities accomplish project goals differently.

  • Create resources for all students

Teachers should create an inclusive environment in the classroom. By providing large print books and therapeutic services to all students, they can make the differences less noticeable.

The creation of an inclusive learning environment is critical for the development of students needing special care and attention. By making small changes in the classroom, teachers can extend a supportive hand to students. Moreover, they should encourage other students to understand the needs of specially-abled students and act accordingly.

Suggested Read: World Mental Health Day

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