Raising a child with special needs is challenging, specifically when it comes to academic performance and results. Developmental disabilities include physical, learning, language, and behavioral areas. They can all make a child differently-abled, implying special needs. These kids often struggle to keep pace with peers, even if they are regular with classes.
According to recent estimates, about one in six American children aged between 3 and 17 years have one or more developmental disabilities. Your child may have a mild one going undiagnosed or manifesting as stubborn behavior or a lack of concentration. As a parent, you should recognize the red flags and seek help for your special child, regardless of the severity of the issue.
Most importantly, you need to ensure that your kid does not fall behind peers at school. Here are a few tips to help children with special needs stay on track.
National public school enrollment in the US included 7.3 million disabled students in the 2021-22 school year. The number makes up 15% of the total. For parents, it signifies that learning disabilities aren’t insurmountable. You need to keep things in perspective in the first place to help your special child cover the academic lags.
Feeling discouraged or overwhelmed is normal, but it is the last thing you should let happen. Avoid being stressed by school bureaucracy, endless paperwork, and test grades. Become your own expert by keeping track of the latest developments in learning disability programs, educational techniques, and therapies.
Also, remember that your child is differently abled, so comparing them with others is the worst mistake. Have realistic expectations and let the kid bloom as a learner at a comfortable pace.
Seek Expert Guidance
If your child faces academic issues, seeking expert guidance is your best bet. Your child’s therapist can help with the initial diagnosis, but a special educator is your savior. Statistics show that there are 667,914 special education teachers in the United States. It means you don’t have to worry about finding an expert.
The field is evolving, with many educators opting for dual degrees with special education as a specialty. Master of Education in Elementary and Special Education is a program that prepares teachers to address the unique needs of special education student populations. The curriculum trains them to implement individualized educational plans aligning with the learning, behavioral, and social needs of students.
A degree with licensure empowers teaching professionals with better job prospects and abilities to help students and parents. Special educators have an edge with an understanding of child psychology and intellectual disabilities.
Maintain Effective Communication
Besides seeking guidance from special education experts, you need to collaborate with them through open and effective communication. Establish an ongoing relationship to discuss your child’s challenges and progress. Also, discuss any adjustments and modifications required to address the gaps in academic performance.
Relying on the expertise of special educators is only half the work. Share insights about your child’s strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles as a part of the collaborative effort. It may help educators offer better support.
Create a Consistent Routine
Studies show that consistent routines are crucial for all children as they promote stability and enhance positive behavior. Consistency matters even more for special needs kids struggling academically. A predictable daily schedule at home can improve their learning experiences at school, leading to better concentration.
Further, a structured environment can reduce anxiety and boost positive performance at home and school. As a parent, you may need to experiment with routines to find a perfect one for your child. Prioritizing the child’s comfort is the key.
Engage in Home Learning
Home learning is an ideal alternative for special needs children struggling with conventional learning. According to surveys, 38 % of the 2.5 million American children getting homeschooled have special needs. The number is far more than the 14% of students enrolled in special education programs in public schools.
You can support learning at home with age-appropriate activities and educational resources. For example, encourage reading, hands-on learning experiences, and outdoor exploration according to their interests and abilities. While taking the responsibility of home learning, stay in touch with a special educator to seek guidance for home-based learning strategies.
The Bottom Line
Learning disabilities are common in the US, but they only make your child special and differently-abled rather than “disabled”. Although your child may not match peers at school, you can do your bit to help them cover the academic gaps. Collaborate with a special educator and create a personalized learning program to address your child’s needs and foster their abilities.