Supporting Children with Specific Needs: Approaches and Interventions

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Interventions vs. Approaches

Interventions refer to the general actions that should be taken to mitigate the adverse effects that emerge due to special conditions such as autism. On the other hand, an approach refers to the specific actions taken, and it targets a particular child as opposed to groups (Kurt & Parsons 2009). Numerous theories outline the interventions available for children with special needs. The theories guide caregivers on the best approaches to be used in the treatment of each child’s condition.

Learning Interventions

Teachers are in direct contact with children with special needs. Therefore, they are expected to give special training to different children depending on the understanding level of each child (Ališauskas et al. 2011). One of the approaches that most teachers have adopted is the efficient management of classrooms to avert behaviour problems and boost learning. Below are some of the approaches that teachers adopt while teaching students with special needs:

  1. Use of visual cues to orient students
  2. Developing a clear and predictable daily schedule
  3. Building the students’ motivation

Use of Visual Cues to Orient Students

This approach entails the use of boundary signs and objects to divide the classroom into various sections to assist children with special needs identify what is expected at a certain time and place. Children with special needs are highly independent when such signs are used to illustrate daily activities (Mary & Pennington 2015). For example, a teacher may draw a chart showing students eating snacks and indicate “snack time” to tell them that it is time for break, and the children should go for snacks (Rachna & Abir 2014). This approach could also involve storing learning materials on shelves, which are accessible to all children, with similar materials such as pencils stored on a certain shelf and a sign directing users to the area drawn with the appropriate description. The children are then trained on the appropriate procedure for obtaining such materials without assistance from the teachers. This tool is helpful to children with difficulty in reading, but with the ability to interpret pictures.

Developing a Clear and Conventional Daily Schedule

Teachers ought to formulate daily schedules that every child is conversant with to boost independence. Research indicates that children with special needs tend to be highly independent when they are aware of the sequence of daily events (Howarth 2013). Any changes to the scheduled sequence of events should be communicated to the children in advance to avert undesirable reaction. Every child’s reading skill level should be considered while drafting the daily schedules to ensure that none of the children has problems in following up the schedule. For a child with reading difficulties and cannot interpret pictures, objects may be used to convey the desired message (Taylor 2005). For a fluent reader, teachers should use words to convey the schedule. Words used in such documents are selected skilfully depending on the child’s level of understanding.

Building the Students’ Motivation

In most cases, students with special needs lack the motivation to learn. In such situations, teachers must devise ways to motivate them. This goal is achieved by creating simple tasks after every lesson to make sure that the child’s understanding is assessed before introducing a new topic (Keenan et al. 2010). Students who perform well in such activities are rewarded with simple gifts to encourage them to pay attention in the subsequent lessons. To achieve motivation, teachers may vary the pace of teaching depending on each child’s understanding skills. Making sure that every child grasps the concepts taught in a certain lesson increases their motivation, thus making learning more interesting. Besides, teachers could allow students to choose topics of their choice and base assignments on the selected topics. Lastly, teaching students with special needs requires the active participation of every child in the classroom (Costley et al. 2012). This goal could be achieved through encouraging pupils to answer simple questions in the course of learning. Teachers should ensure that the students’ attention is captured before putting across the points they intend to make. This aspect boosts follow up and increases the students’ morale since they will understand the lessons quite well.

Interventions for Children with Dementia

Children with dementia have a concentration problem due to the damage caused by the disorder in the brain. The disease affects the normal functioning of the brain, thus causing undesirable behaviours in a child, and thus it may result in learning disorders. Even though there is no known cure for the condition, its development can be slowed given that victims are in their developmental stages. The common drugs used to avert the disease are cholinesterase inhibitors, which are meant to slow down the advancement of the disease in its early stages (Kurt & Parsons 2009). Cholinesterase helps in the breakdown of acetylcholine, which is the substance behind the disorder, thus slowing progress. Other therapies available include treating other disorders emerging from the disease such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiac illnesses (Nimante & Tubele 2010). School nurses act as the main provider of medical treatment against the condition since they are in direct contact with the children while at school. In complicated cases, physicians and other medical experts are called in to assist in treatment.

The Role of State Authorities in Affording Interventions

Various governmental and non-governmental institutions help in affording treatment for the disorder by providing financial services to families with an affected person. Local authorities in the UK avail support to victims and their families by paying the cost of treatment services for children with dementia (Ališauskas et al. 2011). Besides, the police play a great role in helping children suffering from dementia and other related developmental disorders by averting discrimination and mistreatment. Some families neglect or mistreat their children due to the disorders. In the case of Baby P, the interventions listed were not availed to the child. Instead, the child was left to die in the hands of the uncaring parents. Although the police arrested the parents over the alleged mistreatments, they never averted the recurrence of abuse cases directed at the child. Instead, they reunited the child with the mother. On the other hand, the local authority did not provide finances for the child to be treated. Instead, the authorities assigned the baby to a friend for care.

The Effectiveness of Interventions Strategies of Individuals with Special Needs

The above-listed interventions by teachers are effective in assisting students with learning problems since they take care of the specific needs of each child in a classroom setting. The use of objects to relay the desired information to children who cannot read and interpret pictures helps such individuals to become more independent. Additionally, it allows such children to learn in the same way as their counterparts with the capability of reading (Kurt & Parsons 2009). An example of an object that teachers could invoke to relay information to children with reading and picture interpretation problems is an object of a wrapped snack. The object could be used to relay information on break time, and it will send a message to the child that snacks are ready. On the other hand, an object similar to a book could be used to tell the child that it is class time and thus s/he is supposed to be in the classroom. Moreover, teachers use pictures to increase the independence of children with special needs. The tools are effective in conveying the desired message to children with the ability to interpret pictures, but with reading difficulties. Pictures are effective in informing such children of the daily schedules as formulated by their respective teachers. For example, a portrait of an occupational therapist could be used to convey a message that it is time to attend a medical check-up. Various studies have shown that the use of objects and pictures to induce learning among such children increases their independence, thus leading to increased motivation (Mary & Pennington 2015).

The other tool used by teachers to make learning among children with special needs effective is the use of incentives meant to induce motivation and increase concentration among learners. Assigning simple activities to children after every lesson and giving simple gifts is an effective way of inducing motivation among such children. A student will feel motivated, and thus pay attention in class to benefit from the incentives afforded after the completion of an activity (Nimante & Tubele 2010). Teachers allow the children to make independent choices about what to learn to motivate students with special needs. For example, teachers could allow each child to choose a book independently from which the teacher will pick an assignment. Besides, children could be allowed to choose what to do at a certain time or choose a colleague to assist in accomplishing the given assignments. Moreover, teachers could allow children to choose where to sit and what to study at a particular time. This tool is effective since it instils confidence in such children as it allows them to make credible decisions. Various studies concur that motivation is a key element towards achieving education needs for children with special needs (Rachna & Abir 2014). The listed methods have been tested, and they have proved to be effective in inducing motivation among children. However, teachers must be innovative enough to utilise these methods effectively for the benefit of the children.

Other Interventions that could be used in the Case of Baby P

In the case of Baby P, a medical test could have been carried out to determine the seriousness of his condition. From such tests, appropriate therapies could have been afforded to the child to improve his condition. Such therapies would include the behavioural therapy that involves interventions aimed at averting undesirable behaviours on children with special needs (Howarth 2013). The child would have received the therapy in an individual or group setting. The behavioural therapy in the case of Baby P would target two main areas, viz. developing communication skills and gaining skills essential for the child’s daily activities.

The Potential Impact of Emerging Development on Support for People with Specific Needs

Assistive Technologies and Digital Games in Learning

Assistive technologies targeting children with special needs are evolving gradually with the Apple Company being credited for manufacturing electronic devices that suit the needs such students (Fletcher-Watson 2014). The invention of iPod, iPad, and tablets is a major step towards solving the problem of special learning in all institutions around the world. In addition to the gadgets, various applications have been developed to suit the needs of autistic children. The applications are designed in such a way that they help teachers make appraisals regarding the children’s understanding of the lessons using adaptive techniques and multimedia features. However, a gap exists between their existence and integration in the curriculum of the special need learners. Consequently, only a few children have benefited from the new invention since little knowledge exists on the effectiveness of digitalised learning. The new technology targets children who cannot hear or speak and those with concentration difficulties.

Lessons available on the digital platform integrate theoretical work with a practical activity to assess the students’ comprehension of the lesson (Fletcher-Watson 2014). In such cases, a student is awarded a badge upon successful completion of the activity. The activity-based lessons cause students to remain engaged. Moreover, it motivates them to concentrate on classwork to acquire the badge available at the end of an activity. To acquire the badge, a student is asked to provide certain links available in the lessons, which also mobilises the students’ concentration. Repetition is another tool that is included in the digital learning whereby certain components of a lesson are repeated systematically to boost the students’ understanding (Aresti-Bartolome & Garcia-Zapirain 2014).

Some apps such as the AB Pathfinder have the ability to collect and centralise data regarding the students’ performance in a class setting (Levinsen 2010). Such apps may help teachers in the appraisal process for their students’ performance in class. The quality of data entered into the digital system is guaranteed since the apps can correct errors in the instructions given by different tutors in an autistic class setting.

Reference List

Ališauskas, A, Ališauskienė, S, Kairienė, D & Jones, S 2011, ‘Meeting of Pupils’ special Needs in the Context of Inclusive Education: UK Experience’, Special Education, vol.1, no. 13, pp. 324-356.

Aresti-Bartolome, N & Garcia-Zapirain, B 2014, ‘Technologies as support tools for persons with autistic spectrum disorder’: a systematic review’, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 11, no. 8, pp. 7767-7802.

Costley, D, Clark, T, Keane, E & Lane, K 2012, A Practical Guide for Teachers of Students with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, London.

Fletcher-Watson, S 2014, ‘A targeted review of computer-assisted learning for people with autism spectrum disorder: Towards a consistent methodology’, Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 87-100.

Howarth, I 2013, An exploration of the ways in which children with Communication Difficulties can be enabled to express views on their experience of meeting Educational Professionals: An Action Research project, University of East London, London.

Keenan, M, Dillenburger, K, Doherty, A, Byrne, T & Gallagher, S 2010, ‘The experiences of parents during diagnosis and forward planning for children with autism spectrum disorder’, Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 390-397.

Kurt, O & Parsons, C 2009, ‘Improving Classroom Learning: The Effectiveness of Time Delay within the TEACCH Approach’, International Journal of Special Education, vol. 24, no.3, pp.173-185.

Levinsen, K 2010, ‘Effective Use of ICT for Inclusive Learning of Young Children with Reading and Writing Difficulties’, IGI Global, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 56-73.

Mary, R & Pennington, L 2015, ‘Assessment and management of the communication difficulties of children with cerebral palsy: a UK survey of SLT practice’, International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders, vol. 50, no. 2, pp. 241-259.

Nimante, D & Tubele, S 2010, ‘Key challenges for Latvian teachers in mainstream schools: a basis for preparing teachers for inclusion’, Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, vol. 10, no. 1, pp.168-176.

Rachna, K & Abir, M 2014, ‘Incorporating the behavioural dimension in designing Inclusive learning environment for autism’, International Journal of Architectural Research, vol. 3, no.3, pp. 45-64.

Taylor, M 2005, ‘Teaching students with autistic spectrum disorders in HE’, Education + Training, vol. 47, no.7, pp. 484 – 495.

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