A special needs child is a broad term used to describe any child with a behavior or emotional disorder, physical disability, or learning disability. Sometimes a child may have more than one disability. Children with special needs children might require extra assistance in school. They might need medicine or therapy that typically developing children don’t need. Many children with special needs are limited in verbal communication, or they are non-verbal. Communicating with children with special needs can be challenging.
Music is understood by all people across the world. Music is especially effective in communicating with special needs children. Some children with special needs children are nonverbal, while others are very verbal. Music provides endless opportunities for learning and development.
For nonverbal children, music is a way to express themselves and interact with others without using words. Music can also be used to motivate children with special needs. During difficult situations, it might be helpful to sing a song in order to help your child work through it.
Tactile activities help children increase their fine motor skills, and they are a great way to communicate with children who are blind and/or deaf. Touch can help children build concepts as they link objects to experiences. Touch can also be used to teach children with special needs the fine motor skills they are often lacking. Giving them different textures to play with can help their bodies learn those skills.
Art, like music, is a way for children with special needs to express themselves without using words. For children who are non-verbal or limited in verbal communication, it is a creative outlet. Children with special needs may become frustrated by their inability to complete tasks. With art, there is no way to fail. There is no right or wrong way to create pieces of art. Art projects also provide a great opportunity for children to touch different textures and work on their fine motor skills.
Movement helps children with special needs feel more engaged in learning. Movement increases focus, attention, and impulse control in children. Movement can also be a form of self-expression for children with special needs who have difficulty expressing themselves with words. Children can learn how to establish a connection between music and movement through dancing and increase their fine motor skills.
5) Social Stories
Social Stories, developed by Carol Gray, are visual or written guides to describe different situations which could include skills, social interactions, or behaviors. Social stories help children, especially autistic children, manage social situations. For those children who struggle with transitions during their day, creating a schedule using pictures can help them understand what activity is next on the schedule, making transitions easier.
Technology has provided a whole new way for children with special needs to communicate. Children who are nonverbal or have limits in verbal communication can type on iPads or use voice output devices. Devices such as iPads provide numerous apps to help children with special needs learn. Some apps can help children communicate by typing words or allow children to create sentences based on pictures. Other apps teach children how to engage in social settings.
Using gestures is a non-verbal way to communicate to a child with special needs and can be very beneficial for children who have auditory challenges. For some children, they might not notice gestures, so make sure the child is paying attention before using them.
Children respond well to encouragement and praise. This is no different for children with special needs. Giving small rewards can help children with special needs feel motivated to complete a difficult task or get through a challenging social situation.
9) Sign Language
Sign language, like gestures, is a way to communicate without using words. Sign language is not only for deaf and hard of hearing children. It can also be used for nonverbal children. Sign language is a way for children with special needs to communicate to others without feeling frustrated by their inability to use words.
10) Talk to Children with Special Needs The Same As Typically Developing Children
Some children with special needs have the same brain functionality as typically developing children, they just might not be able to communicate that. Talk to children with special needs the same as any other child. This may result in better responses from the child if they feel like you are treating them like other children their age.
11) Transition Time
Transitions can be a difficult time for children with special needs. Some children require ample time to transition into a new activity. Communicate these transitions clearly. Children may need to be told several times what activity is coming up next, or be given a 5 minute warning before the transition occurs. For others, social stories are helpful to make the transition process easier.
Communicating with children with special needs may take more time than communicating with typical children. Each child is different and requires different methods of communication. Children with special needs may require special medical attention that primary caregivers are unable to provide. UnityPoint at Home Pediatric Home Center is there for you when you need them. They provide specialized care for each child in the comfort of your own home. Learn more about UnityPoint at Home’s Pediatric Home Center services for your child.