Even though we all know that not all kids develop at the same pace, it’s so easy to worry about whether or not our kids are doing things that kids would “normally” do at their age. However, this idea that there is a “normal” kind of person is harmful because it just isn’t true. Every single person is different, learns and thinks differently, and has different abilities.
It is because of this reality that traditional schooling may not work for every kid out there. So we talked to two special education teachers to understand the truth behind some common misconceptions about special needs kids (or children with medical, psychological, behaviorial, or developmental issues that require different accommodations) and special education (SPED). Find out what they have to say below!
If you notice your kid showing behavior that is different from typical behavior for their age group and these observations are matched by your kid’s teacher too, there’s absolutely no harm in having your child assessed by a developmental pediatrician. This way, if there are serious delays or disabilities, you’ll be able to address them early on. And gving your kids the support they need to address any difficulties as soon as possible could actually lessen or even prevent delays in the future.
According to Gelai Castillo, a Pediatric Occupational Therapy Consultant at MAGIS Creative Spaces, “The purpose of special education is to provide the appropriate amount of support and assistance that your child needs for optimal learning in the classroom.”
In SPED, your child’s performance is regularly observed and reviewed so that sound judgements can be made on which level of support would best suit your kid’s needs. This means that adjustments can be made to your child’s education to give them more support or less depending on their development.
As with all kids, there are good days and bad days. And those bad days can often come as a result of the fact that kids don’t quite understand what they’re feeling or how to put any of it into the best words and actions. And with children with special needs, what may seem like “unusual” actions to typical kids or adults are actually forms of expression and ways for children with special needs to release their emotions.
Tanya Tayag, a teacher at Miriam College Nuvali, notes that children with special needs “can be triggered by anything that can be usual or ordinary for us,” often because of behaviors they cannot easily control. To help with this, parents should be curious about their kid’s learning style and the school setting they’ll be placing their kid in. Being more proactive in this way will help you and your kid’s teachers to better support your kid’s learning.
Children with special needs may behave, think, and develop in ways that are different than the ways typical kids do. But that doesn’t mean they need to be learning in completely exclusive settings. In fact, an inclusive educational system benefits both typical and special needs kids.
By giving these kids the space to interact meaningfully with each other, they’ll all learn to develop better social skills: Special needs kids will learn social cues and how best to act in certain situations through observation, while typical kids will learn to practice respect and empathy by interacting with kids are unlike them.
The negative stigma already built around special education makes it easy for parents to think that having their kids placed in SPED will single their children out as “abnormal” learners with serious disabilities. The truth is, however, that special education is not just for kids with severe developmental issues.
Gelai shares, “Special education is for all learners who require support and services to achieve optimal academic participation. SPED caters to individuals at all learning levels.”
When it comes to special needs and special education, there are two important things for a parent to have: curiosity and an open mind. Be curious about the way your child is developing and learning, ask questions about your child’s schooling and possible steps they can take to really make the most of it, and of course, trust in your child’s teachers.
A large part of your kid’s life is spent in school. That’s why their teacher’s observations will be a great help in understanding how you can best address your child’s needs. And at the end of day, doing your part by finding out as much as you can about the truth behind these myths or any other questions you might have about the way your child develops is definitely a good way to be a hands-on and proactive parent.