Special Education

A note on special education

Every child is special!

Families celebrate and rejoice the arrival of a child. They have dreams and expectations for their newborn. As one parent said, he was too overwhelmed when his son was born. He dreamt of playing soccer with the child and having him as a partner in his adventure trips. Many others seek to make their children successful human beings. Sometimes, children are born with special needs. However, it becomes difficult for parents to accept them; such recognition shatters their dreams and they may feel guilt, frustration, disgust and anger. Then, there is the issue of social stigma in many societies.

In many cases, schools meet parents in denial and find it difficult to educate them about unacceptable behaviour or special needs. The denial also stems from parents’ unpreparedness to deal with their child’s problems or its implications. They sometimes choose to put off dealing with the issues even when deep down, they know something is wrong.

On the other hand is the classic case of Captain Arthur H. Keller and Mrs Keller, parents of Helen Keller. Helen Keller’s mother, Katie Keller, was insistent that the family must not abandon the search to find someone who might be able to unlock the mystery of her daughter. Despite the best efforts and advice of family and professionals, Mrs Keller refused to have her daughter institutionalised(put in a special nurturance support.) In those days, not many interventions were available, but she was lucky to find Anne Sullivan, the teacher who went on to make Helen Keller the incredible woman we know today.

Presently, many interventions are available and children with special educational needs can be better supported and helped. It is important for parents to work with teachers and professionals as partners. They should take seriously what they are advised to do and take appropriate steps to support the child.

‘Learning disability’ (LD) is the more common of the special educational needs and it is a group of disorders that affects people’s ability to either interpret what they see and hear or to link information from different parts of the brain. These limitations can show up in many ways: as specific difficulties with spoken and written language, coordination, self-control, or attention. Such difficulties extend to schoolwork and can impede learning to read, write, or do maths.

A learning disability is a neurological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to receive, process, store, and respond to information. The term learning disability is used to describe the seemingly unexplained difficulty that a person of at least average intelligence has in acquiring basic academic skills. These skills are essential for success at school and work, and for coping with life in general. Broadly speaking, no learning disability is singular in its occurrence, it rather reflects combinations of impediments to learning.

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