Whenever I hear the term special needs I always come up with a list of my own and wonder what is so special about them. We all have “special” needs and I am almost certain that none of our needs are the same. I did very well in school if you measure success in terms of the grades I received. One of my strengths was short term memory and as long as I studied for a test the night before, I preformed quite well – I was a good test taker. But ask me to comment or expand upon the same information a week or two later and I might be in a tight spot.
I may have had a great short term memory but processing what I learned into usable and practical chunks of information was my shortfall. I was never labeled with a ‘learning disability’ because I performed well according to the common measuring stick employed during that pre-special education/IEP era I attended grade school in. I eventually learned how to compensate for my own “special needs” but I certainly could have benefited from a helping hand of an observant adult along the way.
I am sharing my personal educational journey and learning style with you in hopes of making a point that we all have our strengths and our weaknesses. I know you have heard that said before but what exactly does it mean in terms of special needs?
We all have our very own unique set of needs, I like to call them individual necessities, and it is important to take the time to detect them and find ways to address them in order to increase our ‘special’ chances of success.
Children with Autism certainly do have “special needs” that may be more evident than those of others. A few areas they typically struggle with are language development, social interactions, sensory issues and communication skills. Please raise your hand if you are blessed with perfection in all of these areas. Just as I thought – there is not one among us who wouldn’t benefit from extra practice with some of these skills.
Regardless of the labels we so easily hand out to people, I have always been a firm believer in Individualized Education Programs (IEP’s) for everyone. Not in the formal sense of the word but as a mindful approach to parenting and education that addresses the whole person. I am passionate about helping parents detect the ways in which their children excel – not just educationally, but socially, emotionally and spiritually as well – and the areas in which they may need extra assistance.
When we take the time to really tap into someone’s way of being and study their unique attributes - their temperament, personality, learning style, etc – and adjust our interactions to them accordingly, it enables us to make quality connections that helps both parties attain their optimal best. I see it as an efficient use of our time, energy and resources that has a big pay-out for all.
I still have trouble recollecting the storyline of a movie a month or two later, unless it had some profound impact on me at the time. I also know that I can reinforce my memories and address my unique leanring style by taking notes or journaling. What are your ‘particular necessities’ and how do you compensate for them? Now I encourage you to take time to celebrate the unique attributes and individual necessities of your children!