Living With Special Needs Children
The term “special needs” or additional needs is used to define a person who has at least one of a number of different diagnoses. Children with special needs are those who have some sort of learning disability (usually mild), cognitive impairment, terminal illness, food allergies, developmental delays, staid psychiatric problems, panic attacks, etc. By diagnosing a child as special needs, it is possible to provide him/her with the services he/she needs, understanding the child and his/her family and setting the suitable targets for them.
There is support and groups available for almost all types of disability or additional needs, for example The Autism Directory.
Many usually define the term “special needs” as the inability of a child to do something (or by his/her inability to eat certain foods, meet certain milestones, do certain activities and jobs, experience certain things, etc). All these are negative and may make a child with special needs seem like one with a tragic life. It can also be really hard on the child’s family. It is easy to think of what a child cannot accomplish in his/her life thanks to his/her special needs. This kind of attitude, though it is very human, does not help anyone. Other people think of the things the child with special needs accomplishes as nice milestones. The child’s “weaknesses” are often cancelled out by strengths that some may/may not see.
For example the Autistic child can have a natural ability with maths and computer science.
Not all families that have children with special needs have things in common. In fact, most do not. A child with a chronic disease and another with cognitive impairment both have different needs. Hence, their families will have different things they are concerned with. Usually, no two families of children with special needs are the same. Different issues require different things.
There are a number of different medical conditions that can designate a child as special needs. The one many people think of first is cancer, although there are others like heart problems, diabetes, dwarfism, cerebral palsy, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, asthma, obesity, allergies, etc. These and many other medical issues require children to undergo various (often lengthy) treatments, to stay in hospital for a long time, to have special accommodations (as with diabetes), etc. The equipment and treatments for virtually all these diseases are usually expensive.
Children with behavioural issues are, in some cases, a little more difficult to deal with. Many families require the help of a specialist. Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, ADH, Tourette syndrome and Sensory Integration Dysfunction are just some of the behavioural issues children can have. All these require special approaches that are made specifically for a specific condition. These approaches are necessary in order to avoid a child plunging his/her family into disarray and creating various problems at school. Parents (and siblings) need to learn how to handle these abilities and disabilities.
Families with children with developmental issues are usually more overwhelmed than other special needs families. The education and care of a child with developmental issues is a bit difficult. Such disabilities include Down syndrome, autism and various other intellectual disabilities. These often cause parents to separate their child from mainstream educational and care facilities. Parents also need to be vigilant and thorough in ensuring their child receives the proper schooling, therapy and all other services he/she may need.
Other diagnoses of special needs include learning disabilities (such as Central Auditory Processing Disorders and dyslexia) and mental health problems (such as depression and anxiety and attachment issues).
The concerns all families with special needs have are whether or not the child is getting the care and education he/she needs, planning for the child’s future, etc. It takes time and patience and a lot of learning for parents and siblings of children with special needs to be able to provide all that the child needs. In the end, though, everyone gets used to it and it gets easier to address the concerns.
Whatever the child has special needs toys are available, and in particular toys for autism. There is a huge range of autism toys available which can develop social interaction, sharing, and motor skills, and also be calming and relaxing. A newer range of comforting nighttime toys are sensory companions including Charlie the Chameleon