Best Practices for Supporting Students with Special Needs
Apr 30, · By: Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett, MS, CCC, and Robert D. Keder, MD. Educating children at home is a challenge for most parents. It can be even more overwhelming for parents of children with special needs, who are navigating distance learning without the supports their child typically receives in a school likedatingen.comted Reading Time: 7 mins. If you have another caregiver present at home, you can take turns working with your child. It’ll alleviate stress to have a designated day or time where you know you can count on being able tend to your own needs or focus on work. Recruit nearby family members or trusted friends to help .
As the population of children with special needs continues to grow, more and more scout leaders, soccer coaches, religious education instructors, librarians, music teachers and other adults are finding themselves working with these children for the first time.
Many of these adults are volunteers who generously give their time and expertise; others are highly trained in their field, but have little or no knowledge of disabilities.
Here are eight important tips you should pass on to people who will be working with your special child. The biggest mistake that adults make when they meet someone like Louie is failing to interact with him.
The same rules of polite conversation apply to adults and children. First, introduce yourself and explain how you are connected to the child. Then explain the activity that you will be doing with the child. Explain the different steps of the activity, including the beginning and the end — while making as much eye contact as possible. Some children with special needs perceive sensory input in different ways and may be unable to verbalize discomfort.
Remember that all behavior is communication. My son had a negative experience in an adapted swimming class many years ago. The children in the class ranged in age from 3 to 18, and the two instructors had the children sit on the edge of the pool with their feet in the water while they took turns working individually with each child.
There were several problems with this plan. First, the water was deep and the children sitting at the edge were how to paint a metal front door constant danger of falling in. Second, the children were shivering while they waited for their turn, which heightened their anxiety and overall discomfort.
Third, the younger children all cried when one of the instructors swam up and suddenly scooped them into the water away from their parents. All of these problems could have been avoided easily with common sense: put safety first and arrange the environment for physical and emotional comfort. By contrast, the Inclusion Basketball League at the Friendship Circle was a model of common sense and positive support. On the first day, pairs of children practiced passing the ball to each other to build up their confidence.
Adults circulated around the gym to make sure everyone was safe and having a good time. Children who needed a break had space to relax. During the game that day, each child had a chance to throw the ball and score. Some adults say that they will not change the way they do things to accommodate one person in a group. But the whole point of teaching is to use a variety of methods to help another person understand and master new skills. For example, if a child refuses to let go of a parent, bring the parent into the activity for a few how to help kids with special needs to reduce anxiety, then fade out the parent.
If a child does not have the appropriate motor skills for an activity, help the child go through the motions and assign a buddy to help the child practice on the sidelines for a few minutes. In a religious education class, a child may have difficulty understanding some concepts; but when those same concepts are presented in a game or hands-on art project, they make more sense. If a set of rules is presented to what does gag mean in text group, apply those rules consistently to everyone.
How to help kids with special needs ago I signed up my son for a preschool martial arts class. On the first day, the instructor explained to students and parents that if a child was having any type of behavior issue, he would ask the parent to sit with the child.
Throughout the lesson, my son Louie was squirming and had difficulty understanding the rapid directions. I waited for the instructor to wave me in. Instead the instructor told my son that he would have to leave the class if he could not sit still. After class I waited for all of the other families to leave so that I could have a private conversation with the instructor about his inconsistency.
The instructor kept track of the students like Louie who needed extra support and assigned teaching assistants to sit with those students. Having the right cues in an environment can mean the difference between participation and non-participation for what happened on june 1 children with special needs. Louie sorts through the photos in an album or on the computer; sometimes we make the photos into a storybook about an activity.
We also use index cards with simple written instructions to help Louie remember the rules for appropriate behavior — if your child does not read, substitute a hand-drawn cartoon or other picture for the words. Yesterday I was volunteering in the school library and I heard a first grade teacher softly singing instructions to her students. As soon as she started singing, every single student became quiet and attentive. Other auditory cues are clapping, snapping or whistling.
I used to have a neighbor who whistled a unique tune to call his children home to dinner every evening. It worked every time — his children responded by whistling how to dry kefir grains same tune as they ran home.
On a few occasions I have seen people try to grab or push Louie to get his attention during an activity, which is never a good idea. He loses his balance easily, and it only confuses him without re-directing his attention.
You know what they say about the best-laid plans. How to change car registration to another state the world of special needs, there is always a Plan B, and usually a Plan C. Make sure that there is space to calm down and move freely if things go badly. A positive attitude is the single most important quality for anyone who works with children with special needs.
But some people with no experience or knowledge of his disability have jumped right in and changed his life for the better. We might even end up in an activity with you someday. What tips do you share with volunteers and professionals who are working with your child? Tell us in the comments below. Special Education. Written on October 15, by: Karen Wang. Karen Wang is a Friendship Circle parent. You may have seen her sneaking into the volunteer lounge for ice cream or being pushed into the cheese pit by laughing children.
View all of Karen Wang's posts. Therapy Tips.
“My child cannot pay attention on Zoom”
Nov 07, · Get to know any students you have with special needs. Understand their abilities and their limits. Have high expectations, but do not have unrealistic ones. Our goal is to help each student reach his or her full potential, no matter what. Aug 15, · Child care providers often work with children who have identified special needs. Working with children who have special needs can be very rewarding if you understand the child and his special need and make appropriate accommodations to support his learning and development. Children with special health care needs and disabilities often require accommodations in school in order to access the same education as their peers. Assistance from you as the childUs physician can help a family acquire the appropriate educational accommodations.
In a sea of happy little faces in a Brady Bunch—style gallery, I saw a white board with a message on it, propped up on a desk. I have special needs. A parent had given up trying to get their child to engage on Zoom.
On day four. Distance learning is challenging for many learners, but can be even more challenging for students with learning, attention, or social-emotional needs.
As educators and parents, we are tasked with an unprecedented challenge: Figuring out how to reach and teach diverse learners online. On my quest to crowdsource the best and most innovative strategies for supporting students with special needs during distance learning, I reached out to school psychologists and teacher leaders in my online communities. I got no responses. Out of almost 20K school psychologists and thousands of teachers.
Was nothing working? Of course, not a lot is working well, because whole-class Zoom meetings are not exactly conducive for students who need personalized attention and step-by-step individual support. The responses started rolling in, with innovative ways to engage kids online. And that got me thinking: Why is engagement the key to success during distance learning? Because learning is not a place.
Nothing drives engagement more than a positive relationship. Connection fuels engagement—both in person and online. Any teacher will tell you that building a positive rapport with a kiddo is an essential ingredient for motivation and effort.
And we can cultivate this positive relationship online. Here are three ways to boost engagement, connection, and support with learners with special needs. I get it. So, the natural temptation is to focus on academics and compliance of academic tasks, even when our children are under the stress of social isolation and the pandemic. We can learn from previous experiences with stressful events that displaced students. After Hurricane Katrina, students struggled when schools quickly focused too quickly on academic remediation.
But when schools focused first on their social and emotional well-being, students were more likely to get caught up on the work. The research on the benefits of social-emotional learning SEL as a lever for academic learning is more than compelling.
Indeed, for students with learning disabilities, one of the key factors for academic success is having support systems, like caring adults who help them navigate the challenges they face. The good news is, educators can be a daily dose of buffering care for children with special needs, just by connecting on a personal level with their students. When students and indeed adults feel safe, seen, and supported, they experience more positive emotions, which boosts cognitive resources for learning.
And, yes, there are ways to engender genuine moments of connection, even on Zoom. Here are three resources that will get children ready for learning by building connection first:. While connection is the foundation for all learning, there are also universal design tactics for distance learning that will help all students with engagement.
However, students with special needs will undoubtedly need more than connection and a cool Zoom engagement trick to succeed. Just like in the classroom, specialized support is often needed. Many students with special needs have challenges with independent learning. They often need specialized instruction and more scaffolded support, such as having tasks broken down for them into more manageable chunks, visual aids, and frequent check-ins to ensure they are on the right track.
In the classroom, teachers can give instant feedback and support. Students may also get pull-out services with specialists to teach them needed skills for focus, problem-solving, and emotional or behavioral self-regulation.
One of the strategies that came up over and over in my online communities was using individual and small-group breakout rooms on Zoom. This extra support can be done for longer blocks of time to do entire tasks together, or short check-ins before independent work to make sure the student knows what to do in a breakout room and has an opportunity to ask clarifying questions. Instructions on how work can be modified to the just-right level can also be communicated in this time.
For instance, the student can be given reading assignments at their instructional level, alternative assignments that meet the same learning target, or shortened assignments that emphasize quality over quantity, such as doing every other math problem in the time period.
For example, one school psychologist in the Thriving School Psychologist community created a Bitmoji classroom full of online calming strategies for children who need a brain break, mindfulness activity, movement break, or self-regulation tool to use when they were overwhelmed. The teacher offered this to students who appeared to be struggling, and as a proactive strategy to prevent overwhelm in the first place. One of the challenges for students with special needs is that their support is more disjointed and remote.
This is why building out a team of support is even more critical than ever before. Whether or not students with disabilities have a formal plan in place, such as a accommodation plan or an Individual Education Plan IEP in special education, collaboration among other educators, support staff, and especially parents is key.
If you are an individual teacher who is struggling to support diverse learners in your classroom, consult with your school psychologist, special education team, and counseling support staff. These team members are on the forefront of emerging best practices and can consult with you to come up with innovative ways to ensure that kids feel connected, engaged, and supported.
Most importantly though, connect with the parents! Parents are doing the best they can with the tools and skills they have at home, under stressful circumstances. This is the new normal for now. The landscape is constantly changing, so we must take measures to adapt, in the best way we can, with the tools we have available. The only way we will get through this is together. Rebecca Branstetter, Ph. She is also the founder of The Thriving School Psychologist Collective, an online community dedicated to improving mental health and learning supports in public schools.
Learn more at www. Become a subscribing member today. Get the science of a meaningful education delivered to your inbox. About the Author. Rebecca Branstetter Rebecca Branstetter, Ph. This article — and everything on this site — is funded by readers like you. Give Now. Get the science of a meaningful life delivered to your inbox.