“Special Needs” is an umbrella underneath which a staggering array of diagnoses can be wedged. Children with special needs may have mild learning disabilities or profound mental retardation; food allergies or terminal illness;
About three percent of all children across the world are ‘special’. They arrive on the earth with their unique gifts but mainstream life has little time for them and considers them a problem. It is the mother who first senses if her child is unusual. While physical debilities become reasonably obvious, identifying those that we have learnt to call ‘special’, is a task strewn with many barriers.
No clinical tests exist to diagnose different mental builds. Over time, these differences need to be ‘inferred’. A few among them, like those with Down’s syndrome are easier to pick. When it comes to autism however, diagnosis gets complex, because autism spans a wide spectrum. For a long time, these special children in India were denied their special needs because of adult ignorance, social taboos, parental embarrassment and lack of ‘specialists’. In the last 3 decades however, India has mobilized itself in its own incremental way to address the requirements of these special citizens with its ‘special schools’.
Special children suffer from different special disabilities like autistic disorder, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, epilepsy, mental retardation, traumatic brain injury and visual impairments. Not all children are alike as our fingers differ from their sizes and forms. Not only does each finger play its own role to make a hand functional but each serves for the wholeness of the hand. Understanding what these special have been going through and putting ourselves in their shoes is the first step towards caring these special children.
Respect these special children as we respect other normal children but do not spoil them. Doing so will just aggravate their condition. Disciplining the special need children requires much planning. The care giver should develop a plan of action before a behavioral incident occurs. Special needs children may have unusual behavioral triggers, so it is important to know your child well and to be flexible in your approach. Patience and consistency are very important in discipline the special need children. Disciplining should be executed through proper communication. The parent or caregiver should communicate clearly to make the child understand. The child specialist or therapist should also be consulted on a regular basis to design customized programs to fit the child’s needs, skills and developmental level.