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Special Kids... Special Needs


September 14, 2012

Tips For Teachers Working With Special Needs Children

By: Carissa Garabedian , RVA PM
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I have put together some thoughts / ideas that may help in your meeting with  teachers / IEP staff for your child. I find some of my biggest struggles for our son lie in the lack of understanding in how he does things and what can be done to make it smoother for ALL in the class , including the educators. In my experience, most have been very receptive to hearing my ideas as it can make for a more productive year for all. Communication is key!  One thing that we all know as parents of kids with Special Needs, every child is different and not all of these will work the same or the best way.


I will be thinking of you all as your stars start another school year. Our guy is starting a new school next week and I am excited but also nervous for his transition. I will keep you posted.

1. Children with Special Needs may not make eye contact but that does NOT mean they are not paying attention or listening. Our son may hum and draw while looking at the floor but he hears what is being said.

2 .Special Needs Kids do not typically know how to lie or intend to misbehave. These kids actually want to please you and want to make you happy. Many cannot process all that is happening and tend to act out due to feeling confused or frightened.

3. Social stories and picture cues are great tools for kids on the spectrum. Breaking down the steps needed into smaller , simpler steps will take some of the confusion away. You can make the pictures/ stories and if you want try to have your student draw a picture too. We have had our son draw a picture for us of some of the things we need done.

4. Allow for breaks when needed, many kids on the spectrum need an outlet, even if it is just for a few minutes at select times throughout the day. These outlets really help our son's ability to refocus and attend to the tasks being asked.

5. Have a schedule for the child to see and use for the day/ week. The more they know what is expected of them and prepare for it, the better they adjust. If there is an assembly, or trip planned, be sure the child knows of it prior to the moment it happens. They will be able to enjoy it a little more.

6. Communicate with parents. Many kids with special needs do not and / or cannot tell us about their day, develop a plan to let families know BOTH the good and the bad. We want to know and need to have an idea of our child's day.

7. Many special needs children do not know how to initiate shared play or choose a partner for a project, help them to do this so they have the chance to feel a part of projects and more in the classroom

8. Avoid sarcasm and idioms as many kids take all said very literally, this will only lead to confusion.

9. Be consistent. Consistent treatment and expectations from everyone around the student are vital.

10. Be sure the peers in the classroom are aware that the special needs child may do things differently and that it is OK, this can prevent the child from being made fun of as well as teaching acceptance of all .

11. Keep directions simple, short and clear. Give choices vs. open ended questions and give fewer choices.  Kids that have too many choices tend to choose the first or last answer and not the one they want.


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