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8 Important Tips for Working with A Special Needs Child

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  • November 24, 2020
  • MKB Team

Tips to help you work with your Special Needs Child


“Until you have a kid with special needs you have no idea of the depth of your strength, tenacity and resourcefulness.”

~ Anonymous

 

Parents, instructors and teachers, although highly specialized in their respective fields, often miss a trick or two when it comes to working with children with special needs. Here are 8 important tips you should keep in mind or pass on to people who will be working with your special needs child.

  1. 1.    Interact

Interaction is the bane of all communication. The mistake most adults make is the failure to interact with a special child. Interact in a way that the child is comfortable with instead of having your own way. Don’t ask questions as many special needs, particularly autistic kids face difficulty processing and answering questions. Follow the same rules of conversation applicable for adults. Begin by introducing yourself and explain how you will be working with the child. It’s important to understand what the child’s specific need is and holding their hand or placing your hand on their shoulder might make a proper introduction in some cases. But some kids can’t bear any kind of touch and it’d be wise to talk them through the various steps from start to finish. Making eye contact and smiling is essential to put the child at ease. 

 

2.   Observe

All behaviour is communication, and communication goes hand in glove with observation. Some children with special needs perceive sensory input in different ways and might be unable to translate their discomfort into speech. Hence, observation is all-important to gauge what the child’s behaviour is communicating to you.

 

  1. 3.    Be Flexible

Often, someone is reluctant to change the rules to accommodate that one person in the group. If a child clings on to a parent, think of another way to teach the child instead of isolating him. Include the parent into the activity for a few minutes to ease the anxiety of the child. You could fade out the parent later. Flexibility is the key and if a child lacks motor skills for a certain activity, assign another child to help practice the activity. 

 

  1. 4.   Consistency

When in a group, ensure that the same rules apply consistently to everyone. Consistency is important when working with special needs children. Just as children without special needs might need extra help or support sometimes, similarly children with special needs should be extended help and support whenever they need it. 

 

  1. 5.   Use the Right Cues

Incorporating the right cues in an environment makes the difference between the participation and non-participation of children with special needs. What works best are visual, auditory or tactile cues. For example, some special needs kids like taking photographs/ videos of the activities they participate in to look back at later, while some find index cards with written or illustrated instructions helpful to remember rules for correct social behaviour. Tactile cues like offering a cushion or blanket, a gentle touch on a shoulder or providing play-dough to play with can prove effective to engage attention.

 

  1. 6.   Have a plan, and a back-up plan

Sometimes, even the best-laid plans go wrong.  In a special needs world, you can’t just have a Plan A. You also need a Plan B, and sometimes a Plan C. Be prepared if things go wrong, and ensure there’s enough space to calm down. Focus on what a child can do, instead of what they can’t. 

 

  1. 7.    Be Positive

Positivity is the most important quality for someone working with a special needs child. Even highly trained specialists fail to make headway because they are full of assumptions and negative attitude. Instead, someone with little experience or knowledge often makes progress because of their patience and positive attitude. Focus on treating each child as an individual, make them comfortable with memorable interactions, and realise their strengths. 

 

  1. 8.    Focus on strengths, not weaknesses

Do not transfer negativity to a child that’s impressionable. The weaknesses of a special needs child have to be disregarded completely. Instead, focus on what the child is capable of doing which will establish a lifelong relationship with learning, something every child needs early on.

 

Emphasize that children with special needs are no less than other children. So what if they are just a little different? Aren’t we all different from each other?

The world may be harsh on them sometimes. But it is your love that will help them sail through this tide. Boost their self-esteem and help them see their own true worth. Remember, sometimes real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles.

 

Do you have any tips you’d like to share with other parents or professionals working with special needs children? What has worked well for you so far? We’d love to hear from you.

Some frequently asked questions have been answered below for you!

You ask and we answer!

Q. 1  What responsibilities are needed by parents of a special needs child? (Reema Chandra, Gurgaon.)

Although therapists are a crucial part of therapy, parents play an integral role as they inspire, motivate, and incorporate functions taught in therapy with daily life. If a parent is not involved in the child's therapy, it might take longer for the child to improve.

 

Q. 2 What are the most challenging aspects as the parents of children with special needs? (Preeti Pednekar, Mumbai)

The most challenging aspects are learning about the disability, researching, locating and accessing effective treatments and resources, and coping with the emotional and physical demands of caring for the child.

Q. 3 What are the things one should not say to parents of special needs children? (Prema Iyer, Chennai) 

Things Never to Say to a Parent of a Special Needs Child

  • Wow, you must be so busy.
  • I'm sorry.
  • You're lucky you have a normal kid too.
  • He'll catch up.
  • You should take care of yourself so you can take care of him.
  • We're only given what we can handle.
  • Have you tried...?
  • Kids aren't really autistic, they just need discipline.
  • What's wrong with him?

 

 

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MKB Team

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