Who Are “Special Children”?

They’re children who have a disability or a combination of disabilities that makes learning or other activities difficult. Special-needs children include those who have: Mental Retardation, which causes them to develop more slowly than other children. Speech and Language Impairment, such as a problem expressing themselves or understanding others. Physical Disability, such as vision problem, cerebral palsy, or other conditions. Learning Disabilities, which distort messages from their senses. Emotional Disabilities, such as antisocial or other behavioural problems. It further include Brain injury and cognitive Impairment.

Why Learn About These Children?

The more parents understand about how a child grows, the better prepared they’ll be to recognize special needs – and seek help promptly.

Children with special needs require extra attention, teaching, care – and love!

Parenting for special child:

• To accept your child the way they are and try to understand about their problems.

• It’s important to know about your child’s problem. The more you know, the more you can help yourself and your child.

• Praise your child when he or she does well. Build your child’s abilities. Talk aboutand encourage his or her strengths and talents.

• Be clear, be consistent and be positive. Set clear rules for your child. Tell your child what he or she should do, not just what he shouldn’t do. Be clear about what willhappen if your child does not follow the rules. Have a reward program for good behaviour. Praise your child when he or she shows the behaviours you like.

• Learn about strategies for managing your child’s behaviour. These include valuable techniques such as: charting, having a reward program, ignoring behaviours, natural consequences, logical consequences, and time-out. Using these strategies will lead to more positive behaviours and cut down on problem behaviours. You can read about these techniques in many books.

• Talk with your doctor about whether medication will help your child.

• Pay attention to your child’s mental health (and your own!). Be open to counselling. It can help you deal with the challenges of raising a child with special needs. It can help your child deal with frustration, feel better about himself or herself, and learn more about social skills.

• Be mindful to interact with and teach your child in ways that are most likely to get apositive response. Learn what is likely to trigger melt-downs for your child, so you can tryto minimize them. Remember, the earliest years are the toughest, but it does get better!

• Learn from professionals and other parents how to meet your child’s special needs, but remember your son or daughter is first and foremost a child; life does not need tobecome a never ending round of therapies.

• Let your child help with household chores. These can build self-confidence and concrete skills. Keep instructions simple, break down tasks into smaller steps, andreward your child’s efforts with praise.

• Encourage independence in your child. For example, help your child learn daily care skills, such as dressing, feeding him or herself, using the bathroom, and grooming.

• Meet with the school and develop an educational plan to address your child’sneeds. Keep in touch with your child’s teachers. Offer support. Find out how you cansupport your child’s school learning at home.

Tips for Parents: Brain Injury

• Work with the medical team to understand your child’s injury and treatment plan.Don’t be shy about asking questions. Tell them what you know or think. Makesuggestions.

• Keep track of your child’s treatment. A 3-ring binder or a box can help you store thishistory. As your child recovers, you may meet with many doctors, nurses, andothers. Write down what they say. Put any paperwork they give you in the notebookor throw it in the box. You can’t remember all this! Also, if you need to share any ofthis paperwork with someone else, make a copy. Don’t give away your original!

• If your child was in school before the injury, plan for his or her return to school. Getin touch with the school. Ask the principal about special education services. Have the medical team share information with the school.

• When your child returns to school, ask the school to test your child as soon aspossible to identify his or her special education needs. Meet with the school and helpdevelop a plan for your child called an Individualized Education Program (IEP).

• Keep in touch with your child’s teacher. Tell the teacher about how your child isdoing at home. Ask how your child is doing in school.

Parenting 101 – Nitika Jaiswal