Special needs in the school system refer to the learners who require adaptive pedagogical means and additional support to meet education goals. Individuals are considered to have special needs when one has physical, emotional, or psychological difference or challenge that requires specialized services to function normally. Statistics indicate that about 15% of students enrolled in public schools suffer from severe disabilities that qualify them for special education (Biehler et al. 1). Also, statics indicate that 19.4% of those who attend colleges report having special needs. There are different types of special needs that affect the normal learning of some students that should be addressed to ensure that this population receives quality education (Biehler et al. 1). Some strategies have been used across the country to assist students with special needs; however, many challenges continue to be reported by this population. Therefore, this research study paper will discuss different types of special needs among students and some of the effective ways to improve this population’s experience within the school system.
Types of Special Needs in the School System
One of the special needs is an autism spectrum condition which affects the normal development of interaction and social skills in children. Socializing is a crucial aspect of education; as a result, a lack of the necessary skills can affect the normal learning of a student. Children suffering from this condition show repetitive behaviors and prefer isolation from other learners. Autism spectrum condition causes learners to have delayed speech, lack facial expressions, and have challenges expressing emotions (Chianese et al. 776). Also, the condition interferes with concentration which is crucial in learning. Some of the behaviors common among those suffering from autism spectrum conditions are the performance of self-harming activities, the performance of repetitive movements, and fixating on an activity or object with abnormal focus.
The second special need is dyslexia, defined as a learning difficulty that interferes with understanding of language and words very difficult. Children who suffer from dyslexia may miss letters during word spelling activities. Also, they lack fluency, and most time, they read slowly and may miss out on parts of the text. Another symptom of dyslexia is poor concentration and memory, which makes students forget concepts immediately after reading. Besides, dyslexia makes students write figures and letters the wrong way around and have poorly organized work. It is important to note that signs of dyslexia may not be recognized before a child joins school. In other words, the condition is easily noticed during the process of learning how to read.
The third special need is emotional disturbance manifested by one or a combination of the following characteristics. The child may have the inability to learn that is not connected to health, intellectual, or sensory factors (McKenna et al. 29). Also, a child with this condition may show a general pervasive mood of depression or unhappiness. Another characteristic is an inability to maintain or build interpersonal relationships with teachers and other students. Besides, a child may show inappropriate behaviors during normal circumstances. A child suffering from emotional disturbance is likely to develop fears or physical symptoms related to school or personal challenges.
The fourth special need is a hearing impairment which may partially or totally affect the hearing ability of a child. Children with total hearing impairment are referred to as deaf, which affects their learning because they cannot process linguistic information through hearing (Sadikovna et al. 501). Children with partial hearing impairment do not suffer from deafness but experience hearing challenges that may affect their learning process. Another special need is attention deficit hyperactivity disorder which is divided into three categories impulsive, inattentive, or a combination of the two. ADHD is a condition that affects one’s ability to focus and manage impulses and is diagnosed at an early age. Symptoms of ADHD include avoidance of activities that require intense mental effort, trouble organizing activities, difficulty paying attention, and hyperactivity (Bullen et al. 4468). ADHD is considered under special need education because students suffering from the condition require additional support to learn like other students without special needs.
Besides, children suffering from Down syndrome are considered to have a special need. Down syndrome is a disease caused by the presence of an additional chromosome, making it a genetic condition (Antonarakis et al. 9). Down syndrome makes individuals have abnormal body parts that may affect normal functioning. Examples include short and stubby hands, a small nose, an upward slant of eyes, a small skull, and an oblique palpebral fissure. Developmental challenges experienced due to Down syndrome are likely to lead to cognitive disability leading to learning challenges. Other special needs include epilepsy, visual impairment, Tourette’s syndrome, eating disorders, and anxiety, all of which interfere with the normal learning of students.
Ways to Help Students with Special Needs
One of the best ways to help learners with special needs is to develop accommodative structures that help those with physical challenges comfortably access learning resources more effectively (Simorangkir 23). For instance, individuals with special needs associated with a lack of body parts like legs should be accommodated in schools by having pathways that support the movement of wheelchairs to all areas of study. Also, tall buildings should be fitted with escalators to help those with walking impairment to move from one floor to another. Classes should have sufficient space to accommodate wheelchairs to ensure that students who depend on such equipment do not find it challenging to secure a space for their chairs. Physical disabilities are likely to trigger psychological issues making it important to ensure that all structures in an institution are accommodative enough.
The second strategy is employing the use of visual charts to help students with reading challenges improve their abilities (Common et al. 68). Key concepts in the visual charts should be colored to help students develop their memory and avoid skipping texts during reading. Also, the instructor should use repetition but present materials in different styles to ensure the success of visual charts. The introduction of new concepts should be done in small chunks to reduce confusion and discomfort when reading. Also, the instructor should partition rhythm patterns into small parts when using visual charts to improve children’s reading skills.
The third strategy is incorporating special education into the curriculum of teachers. One of the challenges facing special education is the lack of enough teachers with the knowledge and skills to attend to students with special needs. Recognizing some of the special needs in students requires special skills making it necessary to train teachers on how to identify reading abnormalities to help introduce strategies at an early stage. The number of institutions offering training on special education should be increased to increase the availability of qualified teachers to assist students with special needs (Hester et al. 356).
The fourth strategy is building foundational cognitive skills, which play a critical role in learning. Lack of attention interferes with the processing of information leading to challenges in listening and reading (Common et al. 83). One of the most effective ways of increasing attention in learners is the use of neuroscience-based intervention targeting areas of weakness. The intervention provides individualized practice making it possible to address the cognitive challenges of each student. Teachers can use this strategy alongside movements to improve focus in students with learning challenges. Movements help increase blood flow and stimulate the brain, improving learners’ mindset to think and recall concepts. However, teachers should ensure that they use types of movements that do not lead to distraction.
Another strategy is the use of feedback during learning processes to help motivate children with reading and learning challenges. Some of the feedback that should be used is praise for good behavior and encouragement to aid improvement (Common et al. 71). Feedback for unwanted behavior should be delivered in a positive manner to avoid discouraging the student. Rewards for good behavior have proven to be the best way of generating motivation. Rewards should be changed from time to time to prevent boredom. For instance, giving feedback and rewards is effective in improving learning in children suffering from ADHD.
The other best strategy to assist learners with special needs is to incorporate sensory breaks during learning. Students having depression, fear, and anxiety may need breaks to overcome the challenges (Common et al. 75). Sensory breaks can be made part of the class routine to help learners to reduce stress and increase their focus. Examples of activities that should be used include water beads and a pocket Etch A Sketch. Quick breaks accompanied by an entertaining activity assist in refreshing and preparing students for a continuation of learning. Some of the special needs that can be improved using sensory breaks are autism spectrum condition, dyslexia, emotional disturbance, and ADHD.
Besides, learners with special needs can be assisted by providing learning materials that help elevate them to the same position as normal students ((Simorangkir 25). Blind students should be provided with learning aid that helps them to read and learn. Examples of learning materials necessary for blind students include braille and a walking stick. Those suffering from hearing impairment should be provided with a hearing aid to improve their hearing and help them learn like other students. Hearing aids are equipped with a receiver, microphone, amplifier circuitry, and batteries that work together to improve hearing. The government should cater to the needs of learners with special needs by paying for the equipment to ensure that each child is able to access education.
In addition, learners with special needs can be assisted by increasing the number of institutions that provide special education. Some of the special needs in education require students to learn separately from others to ensure teachers focus fully on their needs. For example, learners with physical disabilities like deafness, blindness, and dumb require special attention because they may not learn at the same speed as normal students. Having special needs students in the same institution will ensure that scarce materials to support their education are utilized in an optimal manner. Individuals with special needs related to cognitive development will benefit from inclusive education because they do not have needs that may require special equipment. It is important to analyze each type of special need to decide on inclusive or separate education.
Furthermore, learners with special can be assisted using tests and simple exercises that help to improve their concentration and focus (Common et al. 82). Tests help teachers to identify gaps to help implement strategies that can improve learning. Standardized tests assist learners in developing cognitive skills that aid in learning. Tests are crucial in helping students to remember concepts, especially those suffering from cognitive-related conditions. Using rewards alongside tests can help learners to focus on increasing their scores and earning the reward. It is crucial to measure the level of understanding of each student to help those with learning challenges improve.
Moreover, students with special needs, especially behavioral problems, should be assisted using fixed routines and structures that help to make students comfortable. As noted in most special needs conditions, students have challenges with concentration and maintaining focus for a long period, necessitating the use of strategies that help with attention (Common et al. 82). An example of a productive routine is the use of familiar songs during the start and end of each lesson which can be improved by singing in different dynamics and articulation. Familiar routines and structures help students with behavioral issues to focus for a long time. Examples of conditions that require this strategy include ADHD, Down syndrome, anxiety, and emotional disturbance.
Lastly, teachers and parents should engage in a working relationship to help develop learning skills both in school and at home. Parents should use strategies like assigning their children simple tasks at home to help improve their concentration and focus and ensure that school efforts for dealing with learning difficulties are supported (Armstrong). Parents play a critical part in social skills development, making it important for each parent to spare some time and interact with their children. Teachers and parents should provide clear instructions to children with special needs to help them understand things they should do and what they should not. It is important to note that some conditions do not only require class interventions but also medical attention like epilepsy, Other conditions like epilepsy, eating disorders, and Tourette’s syndrome. As a result, the government should cater to the medical needs of such learners to help them manage their condition and engage well with learning.
In conclusion, students with special needs continue to experience challenges that require immediate solutions to ensure that every individual can access quality education. Special needs necessitate the use of specialized services to allow one to operate or enjoy their constitutional right like others. There are many different types of special needs affecting some of the learners, such as autism spectrum disorder, dyslexia, emotional disturbance, hearing impairment, ADHD, Down syndrome, eating disorders, visual impairment, and Tourette’s syndrome. Some special needs make learning challenging by interfering with concentration and memory, while others make it challenging for an individual to access education. Students with special needs can be assisted by equipping institutions with the right infrastructure to help such students to access education like others. Infrastructure has been a challenge to some students with physical disabilities, making it crucial to equip institutions with supportive resources for this population. Also, students with special needs can be assisted using better classroom activities like embracing visual aids, neuroscience-based intervention, giving feedback, sensory breaks, and standardized tests. Besides, it is important to increase the number of institutions that specialize in special needs education and train enough teachers to cater to the educational needs of this population efficiently. It is important to note that some of the students with special needs require medical attention, which should be facilitated by the government in an effort to boost the quality of education.
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