Life with ‘Special Needs’ Children: A Lifetime Journey

NeW Bureau

What we really want for our child is a happy and fulfilling life. It is a universal truth that all children are basically the same but are different up to a limit from each other physically, mentally, educationally and socially. All children need love, encouragement, and support. With encouragement and the right support, a child can build a strong sense of self-confidence and a solid foundation for lifelong success.
The term ‘special needs,’ is a catch-all phrase which can refer to a vast array of diagnosis or disabilities. However, in lay terms, ‘special needs’ becomes an umbrella term for an overwhelming range of conditions. Children who are diagnosed with having special needs may be suffering from a mild learning condition to a terminal, degenerative illness.
‘Special needs,’ is a very broad term and every situation is unique. Children with special needs may have been born with a syndrome, terminal illness, profound cognitive impairment, or serious psychiatric problems. Other children may have special needs that involve struggling with learning disabilities, developmental delays, or panic attacks.
Normally, families with special needs are on a lifetime journey that is both emotionally and financially challenging. Children who have a disability or a combination of disabilities make 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 that distort messages from their senses and emotional disabilities such as antisocial or other behavioral problems. However they have the same needs as all children, a place where they feel physically comfortable, loved and secured; opportunities to play and learn; people who care about them; and activities that allow them to be successful. Therefore parents who suspect their children have special needs can take several steps to make sure they get the support they need to help their children succeed.
Most parents assume they will have healthy babies, unless doctors tell them otherwise before their children are born. But during a child’s infancy or early years, parents may see physical disabilities that might limit or challenge that child. Some learning disabilities aren’t noticed until later, when a student is not on track with other children his or her age. Families of children with special needs may experience many emotions upon diagnosis, including anger, grief, loss, and denial. However it is important to remember to be patient, as these emotions are a natural part of the process. Some parents may always lament their child’s lost potential, and some conditions become more troubling with time. Other families may find that their child’s challenges make achievements delightful and that weaknesses are often accompanied by incredible strengths. Having special needs should not be considered as a great tragedy, instead one should look at the many success stories. Parents need to focus on the child’s gifts and talents. The child’s life and schedule shouldn’t revolve around the learning disability. Nurture the activities where they excel, and make plenty of time for them.
For children with special needs, early intervention is an important step towards helping the child fulfills his or her full academic, emotional, and social potential. Children with special needs often are not so different from typically-developing children. They may need more time to learn and practice certain skills. They may need more praise and encouragement to gain the skills typical for their age group. They may need specific adaptations to help them succeed at certain activities. But it is important to remember that in many, many ways these children have lots in common with other children. Parent should believe in the value of educating children with special needs. The higher the expectations, the higher will be their acceptance in the family. They should focus on seeking the help and guidance needed for their particular concerns. Nevertheless parents sometimes make the mistake of investing all of their time and energy into the school as the primary solution for their child’s learning disability. However parents should try to recognize that the school will be only one part of the solution for their child and leave some of the stress behind. Parent’s attitude of support, encouragement and optimism will have the most lasting impact on the child.
“Children with special needs” is for children who may have challenges which are more severe than the typical child, and could possibly last a lifetime. The job as a parent is not to “cure” the learning disability, but to give the child the social and emotional tools they need to work through challenges. These children will need extra support, and additional services. They will have distinct goals, and will need added guidance and help meeting academic, social, emotional, and sometimes medical milestones. Persons with special needs may need lifetime guidance and support while dealing with everyday issues. In the long run, facing and overcoming a challenge such as a learning disability can help the child grow stronger and more confident. Before the world can change its perception of ‘special needs’ and ‘disabilities’, one needs to understand what the terms mean and how children with special needs are different. Gone are the days when lack of information caused everyone to tiptoe around these conditions.
As a society, we need to wake up to the reality of special needs. The community at large is often unaware of the potential of children with special needs. Most children with special needs are more like normal developing children. They share the same passion for discovery, stories and music, to learn to run and play, solve problems, have conversations with friends, and attend to their personal needs. False notion have to be ignored and everyone needs to take note of the fact that even though we are living with disabilities, we are far from disabled. Working with children who have special needs can be very rewarding if one understand the child and his special need and make appropriate accommodations to support his learning and development. For children with special needs, positive support can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.

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