Unique Needs of the Visually Impaired Child

Vision is the primary learning modality and source of information for most children. No other sense can stimulate curiosity, integrate information or invite exploration in the same way, or as efficiently and fully, as vision does. The child who comes into the world without a dependable visual system, or without vision at all, has to navigate through the incomplete messages received through the other sensory modalities in order to put a whole picture of the world together. The visually impaired child needs to determine how to organize this incomplete information and then respond to what may remain a confusing view of the world.

The child who is legally blind may not learn to do things by visual imitation, an integral pathway to learning during early development. Thus, her ability to understand basic life concepts, and the process by which most life tasks are accomplished and brought to completion, is seriously compromised. The visually impaired child who is unable to see the complex process of putting together a meal within the family home, for example, has missed invaluable understanding of what causes things to happen in life. Only through experience- based learning does the blind or visually impaired child gain the personal validation of what the world is about in a way that makes sense to that individual. By repeated opportunities for hands- on experiences, the VI infant/toddler begins to internalize the characteristics and properties of the world outside himself.

Without these essential pieces of information about the world, the ability of the legally blind child to develop effective problem solving skills, a cornerstone to cognition, is seriously challenged. The legally blind child is often left to depend upon the verbal description of the world given him by a sighted person whose view of reality does not match with what the blind person is experiencing (Santin and Simmons). Instruction specific to his disability is essential for the young child who is blind or visually impaired in order to meet his unique needs.

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What Are Some Behavioral Challenges Typical In Persons with Down Syndrome?

The behavioral challenges seen in children with Down syndrome are usually not all that different from those seen in typically developing children. However, they may occur at a later age and last somewhat longer. For example, temper tantrums are typically common in 2-3 year olds, but for a child with Down syndrome, they may begin at 3-4.

When evaluating behavior in a child or adult with Down syndrome it is important to look at the behavior in the context of the individual’s developmental age, not only his or her chronological age. It is also important to know the individual’s receptive and expressive language skill levels, because many behavior problems are related to frustration with communication. Many times, behavior issues can be addressed by finding ways to help the person with Down syndrome communicate more effectively.

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Social Skills Interventions: Getting to the Core of Autism

Every child on the autism spectrum is unique, with different strengths and needs at different ages. It is the family’s challenge to cobble together an individualized treatment plan based on a wide variety of options, from speech and language therapy to applied behavior analysis, from medication to special diets. One intervention many families consider is social skills training. A lack of intuitive social ability is a hallmark of autism. Social skills training is aimed at addressing the challenges that result, and often plays a central role in treatment plans. But what does “social skills training” mean? What is it intended to achieve? And what research has been done so far to demonstrate whether it works?

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School Evaluations for Emotional Challenges

When a child’s emotional needs get in the way of his or her education, a request can be made for an assessment to see if the needs are severe enough for Special Education or a 504 plan. Put this request in writing. If your child is already in Special Education, the assessment would find out if counseling should be added to the IEP as a related service.

Because Special Education counseling is to help students with their emotions so they can benefit from their education, when writing a request for an evaluation, use school examples. Areas might be grades and meeting grade level standards. School attendance, behavior, or discipline are other areas.

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School Says, “No Advanced Classes for Kids with IEPs”, Now What?

My child has a learning disability. Her teachers want her to enroll in advanced classes. She is eligible based on her test scores and school performance. The School will not let her enroll her because she has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). What are her legal rights?

Wrightslaw.com says: Your child has an IEP because she is a child with a disability that adversely affects her education.

Because of her disability, she needs special education and related services.” 20 U.S.C. § 1401 (3). Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Ed., p. 49.

Children with IEPs receive protection from discrimination under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act (Section 504).

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Positive Emotions: Helping a Teen with LD Cope Better with Stress

With mounds of homework, looming SAT tests, and worries about the future – being a teen in today’s world can be incredibly stressful. Add a learning disability (LD) to the mix, and you’ve no doubt witnessed your fair share of short fuses. You can’t eliminate stress altogether for your teen – nor would you want to. But when stress is taking too high a toll, what’s the answer?

A growing body of research shows that instilling positive emotions, such as gratitude, hope, awe, and compassion, can make a big difference. Not only can it counteract the fight-or-flight stress response and improve well being, but it may also enhance the goals of traditional classroom learning.

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13 Holiday Survival Tips For Your Child With Special Needs

While most children live for the holiday season, it can be an extremely stressful time of year for children with autism and other forms of learning disability. The disruption to their routine, unfamiliar sights and smells, the house full of noise and people – it can all prove too much. Holidays are all about the family, but it can be hard keeping everyone happy.

The following tips for surviving the holiday season have been contributed to Scope by parents of children and adults with special needs. The general consensus seems to be to plan ahead. Whether that’s creating a visual story for your child, preparing them for what to expect, or giving relatives a heads-up in advance about your child’s particular needs – preparation is key.

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