When children with special needs are referred, children diagnosed with a mental disability is what it’s meant. For instance, some prototypical disabilities include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or Attention Deficit Disorder, Global Developmental Delay, Learning Disability, Cerebral Palsy, etc. In clinical terms, neurotypical or behavioural disability brings with it an array of challenges and behavioural issues, that hamper the daily functioning as well.
For instance, a child who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder may generally experience social interaction issues, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviours. Similarly, a child with Down Syndrome may show symptoms like delayed development, speech delay, vision disorder, etc. There are several ways in which a disability makes things more challenging for a special need’s child.
Difference in treatment methodology
A physical disability in a special child may greatly affect the treatment methodology the child psychologist or child therapist may adopt for intervention. Quite understandably, the symptoms and issues that come with a mental health disability in a special child are quite a few. To help the child live an independent life, early intervention in the form of therapy sessions and tools, etc are used to work on the various developmental needs of the child. However, having a physical disability in addition to it can add more challenges to it.
For instance, if a child is visually impaired and has ASD, working on his or her social interaction and communication skills would be more challenging. Generally, a child therapist themselves use and suggest parents to make use of cards that have social stories in them. This helps the child learn social skills and differentiate socially appropriate behaviour from those which aren’t socially acceptable. For instance, a social story like the one mentioned below can help a child learn good hygiene habits.
When I get up in the morning:
- I’ll brush my teeth.
- I’ll communicate whether I want jam or butter on my bread.
- I’ll listen to mom.
- I’ll get on the bus and go to school.
Such social skills help the child learn and understand what is expected out of them. Now in case, the child is visually impaired or disabled, using such cards to teach them right behavioural skills will not be possible.
Similarly, if a child diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which generally includes symptoms like poor coordination, weak and stiff muscles, tremors, etc. Also, he/she may face challenges in hearing, sensation, speaking, vision, and swallowing. Other than these, if the child has a hearing loss, then it may make the requisite intervention a little more challenging.
There are a lot of psychological limitations that may be tied up with a child with special needs. Having a disability can also make it worse for the child. For instance, social acceptance is a common factor in Psychological limitations that are seen in children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children with ASD often experience inhibitions in communications and interacting with their peer groups. If a child ASD also has a physical disability, he/she may feel even more conscious about themselves and lack self-esteem. Helping the child get included in the societal setup thus becomes a lot more challenging in the presence of a physical disability.
Children with a mental disability already have a higher dependency rate as compared to other children of the same age. For example, a child diagnosed with Down syndrome may have speech and language difficulties. Such a child has a high risk of wandering away from parents and caregivers, especially when they are not under strict vigilance. Due to speech difficulty, communicating their address or parent’s contact details to a helpful stranger is already a challenge for them. Additionally, having a visual disability can make things even more challenging for such a child. This further increases the dependence rate of the child.
There are a lot of stigmas attached to special children in society and some people make their social acceptance harder. Having a disability as well, makes this worse as it makes social acceptance of the child even more difficult. Also, this leaves a negative impact on the child’s emotions.
Summing this up, a special child needs much more care, parental guidance and efforts, and patience as compared to any other child. Having a disability as well raises the requirement for each of these factors. However, if you are a parent of a child with special needs, which may or may not have a disability, try to stay strong because only then you would be able to effectively support your child. Look for an experienced child psychologist or child therapist who can work on your child’s holistic development. Also, a child therapist would be able to suggest a few good educational institutes for your child. This would help your child live life to the fullest of their abilities.