The Relevance Of Counseling For Students With Special Needs

Counselors have always been a part of all types of educational institutions. For these professionals, the holistic development of students is the main priority. They help students realize their potential and grow in the best way they can. This task proves essential, especially for high school students at the crossroads about their future and career paths.

But counseling can do more than guide teenage students when considering their future. Counseling can also help students who are under special education programs.

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But what is the importance of counseling? Will it affect students in the special education program? Before we can answer this question, we must first identify who students with special needs are. 

Which Children Can Counselors Help

There are many types of children with disabilities and special needs. They may be unable to perform in school activities, like sports or simple reading exercises, due to their inherent limitations.

Here are just some examples of disabilities a child may have:

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
  • Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and other learning disabilities
  • Hearing, visual, and other sensory impairment 
  • Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD)
  • Physical disabilities
  • Speech and language disorders

Special students also include those with an advanced intellect. The talented and gifted students often possess leadership, creativity, communication skills, and intelligence well beyond what’s expected of their age. They often feel underwhelmed by the lack of challenge in their schools.

But children with mental and physical disabilities aren’t your only kinds of special students. Those who are at a disadvantage or have a harder time learning because their brains cannot take it are also special students.

Now, and especially during the pandemic, education continues to be a privilege. Students need superior connectivity to the internet to join classes and find resources. They should also have at least one gadget of their own to submit class requirements.

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While these problems may be difficult to solve, their consequences can be controlled. Luckily, counselors can help with most of these issues. Now, let’s talk about the benefits counseling gives. 

Counseling Identifies Special Social And Emotional Needs

First, counseling can help in identifying students with special needs. With their background, they can pick up on actions and social cues signaling a student’s difficulty integrating with a group. 

For example, children with learning disabilities may look as if they’re the same as other ordinary kids. They may only begin to show signs of their disability when reading, to write or to solve problems. So, while they may seem well-adjusted at first, students with learning disabilities may progress slower in time.

Children who have developmental expressive language disorder (DELD) also often have difficulty expressing their thoughts and emotions. Because of this, they may need specialized care. Fortunately, they can learn about and develop thought processes and expression. Counseling can help children with DELD to learn how to express themselves better.

Another example would be the children with disabilities. While their conditions aren’t limitations themselves, they can still hinder them from socializing in fear of being different. This fear may be hard to identify, especially if a child is already very reserved.

Additionally, students with advanced talents and intelligence may feel underwhelmed. This feeling can then lead to demotivation as they continue to yearn for more challenging activities. Studies also show how this demotivation can then result in underachieving and underdeveloped children.

Luckily, a counselor can identify these challenges in children. Identifying problems may only be the first step, but it’s essential in helping children with special needs.

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Counseling Helps Develop Necessary Skills

Once counselors identify which students have disabilities and which special needs they require, they can start working on these limitations. 

For students with learning disabilities, counselors can help them slowly learn techniques to make academic requirements bearable. Counseling can help them improve their time management and organization skills. They can also help students create study habits fitting to their inherent limitations. 

On the other hand, counselors can also design special education programs for disabled children. During counseling, counselors can also evaluate the benefits and detriments of their special education programs. Special education programs may include these changes:

  • Assistive learning devices
  • Educational and psychological assessments
  • Modified learning environment

Thus, students can learn the same lessons as their classmates, thanks to new teaching methods that consider their limitations.

All of this development usually happens during one-on-one sessions with a counselor. However, counseling can also be done by the group. 

During such sessions, students can improve on their social, communication, and other interpersonal skills. They can also build friendships in small counseling groups. Students with special needs can then rely on this newly-found relationship for support, even after counseling ends.

Counseling Helps With Gaining Self-Confidence

Lastly, counseling can help students under special education gain self-confidence. Counselors can also help these children learn more about their respective conditions. 

One of the hot discussions for the disabled community is the Identity-first language. The identity-first language movement aims to break any stigma or negative connotations previously associated with terms such as “disabled” or “autistic.” This movement thus promotes the use of such terms when describing a disabled person. 

On the other hand, some people prefer the person-first language. This movement, on the other hand, seeks to recognize people first before their disabilities.

Both of these movements are well-meaning and have valid points of their own. But at the end of the day, the child in question deserves to decide how they want to be referred to. Counseling can thus help children discover their strengths and weaknesses. With the proper education about their limitations, children can learn to accept their condition and build an identity from there.

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In conclusion, counselors in the school setting do more than just talking to students in detention or helping the soon-to-be-graduates transition. But also, counselors help the disabled, marginalized, and limited children. 

It does so by identifying problems early on, even for those students with seemingly hidden disabilities. After this first step, counselors can then help these children work on their weaknesses and limitations. Most importantly, counseling helps students with special needs finally embrace their inherent disabilities and build their own strong identity.

What Does It Take To Be A Special Education Counselor?

Learning is not an easy process. Every child has the right to learn everything they need to be successful in life. And as educators, you are primarily tasked to hone the skills and talents of your pupils. You should recognize how each student has different characteristics, making them unique. Some may excel better than others in most areas, while some may take time to figure out where they do great.

Some children may also have specific learning disabilities. These hinder them from achieving their true potential. These children also may have difficulties honing their skills and adjusting to certain situations. If you do not address these at an early age,  they may have problems in their social and emotional functioning in the future.

This is why children with special needs must receive special education. A special education counselor ensures that their special needs are met so they can perform better in school. Read further to know what it takes to be a special education counselor.

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What Is Special Education Counseling?

Special education counseling is considered a specialization of school counseling. This branch is particularly concerned with aiding students with special needs. Children under this category may have learning disabilities. They may have mental retardation, which causes them to develop more slowly than other children. Some may also have speech and language impairment, making them unable to express themselves.  Other children may have physical disabilities. They may have vision problems, an underdeveloped body, or other conditions.

The main goal of this type of counseling is to provide them access to intervention programs. These programs place children in a curriculum tailored to their learning ability. For instance, if the child has visual difficulties, teaching sessions may emphasize touch and sensations.

Special education counseling provides assistance and support to their families as well. For instance, counselors can teach parents important strategies in managing their children’s needs.

Most importantly, counseling also helps children achieve important milestones in a school environment. It helps with their academic and intellectual growth. This counseling is also concerned with improving their ability to function socially and emotionally.

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Roles Of A Special Education Counselor

Special education counselors must be aware of their student’s individual needs. They should be able to help them achieve their full potential. As a special education counselor, you need to help them receive individualized education programs (IEP). Children who received IEP can quickly adjust to certain situations. In this case, introducing them to this program at an early age is vital. It can make a lot of difference in their academic learning and emotional health. 

Special education classes can also be diverse. It is crucial to know each child’s weaknesses and strengths. So, you can equally advocate for these children. To be a good special education counselor, you need to fulfill these roles:

  • Perform counseling sessions with special education students
  • Encourage the family to be involved in the child’s IEP
  • Collaborate with other school staff to make adaptations and modifications based on your student’s needs
  • Collaborate with other professionals such as therapists to ensure a holistic approach in teaching
  • Assess and identify students who can be eligible for special education

Special education counselors ensure that their students’ needs are primarily met. They can also refer families to outside resources if they have to. These may include family counselors, vocational trainers, and other non-profit organizations.

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Should You Become A Special Education Counselor

Before you become a special education counselor, you need to consider the job outlook for this profession. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for special education counselors is good. There is an estimated 8 percent growth in this type of work. This growth is not expected to slow down in this early part of the decade. 

The local spending for special education also increases for different states in the US. Among these states include New Hampshire, Hawaii, Connecticut, and New York.

Another thing you need to consider is the compensation you may get as a special education counselor. As of May 2019, the BLS estimates that these counselors earn an average of  $61,000 a year. However, wages may still vary depending on your educational level and years of service.

And lastly, you should determine if you have a passion for teaching. As a special education counselor, teaching could be extremely difficult. And the process may also be tedious. You need to have a lot of patience and perseverance to help your students grow. 

A special education counselor also primarily needs to be a skilled communicator. They will not only converse with their students. But they also need to consult with parents and other faculties frequently. You will have to provide reports about your student’s progress and their problems in school. Your counselor must have superior organizational skills because they will have so many files to handle.

Whatever your reason for pursuing this career, always remember that it is all about your students. It is all about special needs children and their right to quality education.

What Is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

There is a wide range of mental health services available to those who are seeking professional help. However, only a few are accessible to those with learning disabilities. This is despite them also experiencing mental health concerns.

So if you are a member of this community and seek treatment options, cognitive therapy may be right for you. But what is cognitive behavioral therapy? 

What is cognitive behavioral therapy and its benefits. A little girl sitting on a chair.
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What is cognitive behavioral therapy?

Cognitive therapy falls under a broader set of cognitive and behavioral therapies. These therapies recognize that changing our thoughts and behavior helps us deal with specific problems.

Cognitive therapy is one of the few forms of therapy that has been scientifically validated. It boasts of more than 300 scientific studies. Therefore, it’s one of the most effective treatments for many psychological problems and disorders. Is that what is cognitive behavioral therapy all about? 

The core principles of the approach date back to Aaron Beck, a 20th-century American psychiatrist. While working with people who suffered from depression, Beck saw that they commonly held negative thoughts and beliefs. 

He believed that thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected. Beck emphasized the need for the right intervention. Individuals work toward changing inaccurate thinking, problematic behavior, and distressing emotional responses. 

And yet many still ask – what is cognitive behavioral therapy? Cognitive therapy follows through with the premise above. Although our problems come from the past, they are sustained by things in the present. To treat this, people should target the present and look at ways to reassess the negative thoughts.

In doing so, individuals can learn to be flexible and practice positive ways of thinking. This consequently influences behavior. 

Note that cognitive therapy is different from traditional talk therapy. Why? What is talk therapy and what is cognitive behavioral therapy? It doesn’t focus entirely on the past. Instead, it engages in a more problem-solving type of orientation.

Here, the therapist and patient work together to identify and replace current distorted thoughts and beliefs. This, in turn, targets their negative moods and counterproductive or self-sabotaging behavior

What techniques are used in cognitive therapy?

What is cognitive behavioral therapy usually beneficial for? Cognitive therapy is useful in treating a wide range of mental health disorders. If you suffer from procrastination, you can try activity scheduling or set simple goals. Maintaining a journal can help those with anxiety and depression. Cognitive therapy also uses breathing and mindfulness exercises to promote relaxation and reduce stress.

What are the goals and techniques of cognitive therapy?

Cognitive therapy’s primary goal is to equip you with the tools to identify and replace harmful or irrational thoughts so you can respond to setbacks better. It’s possible to achieve this by working with a therapist trained in cognitive restructuring and guided discovery.

Ultimately, cognitive behavioral therapy strives to educate patients to become their own therapists by assisting and guiding them so that they will be able to comprehend their present thought patterns and behaviors, and by providing them with strategies to alter their negative behavioral and cognitive patterns.

You can also do it yourself through journaling and mindful breathing exercises.

What is the main focus of cognitive therapy?

Cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and correcting harmful thoughts that may unknowingly influence how you feel and behave. Instead of looking at your past, cognitive therapy examines your current thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

What are the key concepts of cognitive therapy?

Cognitive therapy analyzes the intricate connection between a person’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in a diagram known as the cognitive triangle. Proponents argue that emotional distress and self-destructive behaviors are often the results of a misguided way of thinking about a situation.

So, cognitive therapy focuses on identifying and replacing these thoughts to help you build practical self-help skills.

What are the 4 steps of cognitive restructuring?

The first step in cognitive restructuring is paying attention to your thoughts. Once you become aware of these thought patterns, you can assess whether they are harmful or unproductive during the second step. If these thoughts are neither helpful nor rational, you can challenge them and examine further why you think that way.

The fourth step involves replacing the cognitive distortion with a more compassionate way of viewing the situation.

What are the three main goals in cognitive therapy?

The first goal of cognitive therapy is to address a person’s immediate problems by replacing cognitive distortions. The second goal hopes to build a solid foundation that allows you to respond more compassionately when you face a similar situation in the future.

Over time, cognitive therapy aims to rewire how you think by restructuring cognitive patterns.

Can I teach myself cognitive behavioral therapy?

Yes. Journaling is an effective way to identify thought patterns that may be unknowingly influencing your emotions and behavior. When you write down your thoughts and feelings regularly, it’s possible to recognize and reframe these cognitive distortions. You can also look for courses on how to do self-CBT online or join web-based groups.

What techniques are used in humanistic therapy?

Since humanistic therapy advocates for unconditional self-acceptance, this kind of therapy focuses on helping you build a strong sense of self. In most sessions, your therapist will actively listen as you describe your lived experience. They may use role-playing or reenactments to help you come to terms with a problem.

What are the techniques of behavior therapy?

For people with anxiety disorders, behavioral experiments might be useful. In this case, you will need to complete a task that makes you anxious. Afterward, you will sit down with your therapist and discuss whether the worst-case scenario you envisioned took place.

What is an example of cognitive therapy?

If you have social anxiety, your therapist will help you identify some cognitive distortions you may have formed about interacting with other people. If they trace it to a traumatic or unpleasant experience, they will give you the tools to think about the situation more healthily and compassionately.

They can also help you improve your communication and social skills through behavioral experiments.

A girl lying in the bed with dead branches.
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What is CBT for anxiety?

CBT is a common approach to treat anxiety, which is often driven by irrational thoughts. By breaking down a problem into ideas, feelings, and behaviors, a person with anxiety can examine how their thoughts play into how they feel and act.

In doing so, they are in a better place to identify and hopefully replace these cognitive distortions with more helpful and grounded ways of thinking.

What are the common cognitive distortions?

Overgeneralizations, all-or-nothing thinking, jumping to conclusions, and catastrophizing are common cognitive distortions. When you focus solely on the negative aspect of a message or discount the positive, that’s also a cognitive distortion.

Expecting the world to operate fairly or things to fall into place all the time is another irrational way of thinking.

What happens in cognitive behavioral therapy?

During a CBT session, you can share a problem with your therapist, who will help you break it down into three distinct components. Your therapist will help you examine your thoughts and how they may be producing unwanted outcomes in the form of emotional consequences or self-destructive behaviors.

They will also teach you how to build healthier coping mechanisms. As part of your therapy, you may have to complete assignments or worksheets.

What is the difference between cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy?

As the name suggests, cognitive-behavioral therapy examines the relationship between cognitive distortions and behavior, unlike cognitive therapy, which places a more significant premium on a person’s mental and emotional state. By combining cognitive and behavioral therapy, CBT becomes a more holistic approach.

What is the cognitive triangle?

The cognitive triangle explains the complex interaction between an individual’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The diagram shows that it’s possible to influence one component by changing the other. For instance, by tweaking your thoughts, it’s possible to lift your mood and even change your behavior.

What are the benefits of breathing techniques?

Deep breathing is a highly effective way to reduce stress. It sends a message to your body to calm down and lowers your heart rate and blood pressure. Practicing mindful breathing for five minutes three times a day can improve your stress response over the long run.

The Takeaway

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Behind each person’s action, be it trivial or significant, is a complex cognitive process. And some people may develop negative thinking patterns, which subsequently trigger other health problems.

Cognitive therapy helps you recognize these negative thoughts. It also provides ways to change them. The end goal is to address psychological and personality problems. It’s anchored on the recognition that thoughts and perception affect our feelings and behavior.

This is a treatment option for a variety of mental disorders or problems. Cognitive therapy is most commonly used for people with depression and anxiety. It can also help with Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, panic disorder, eating disorder, OCD, and PTSD. 

It can also work for people with anger management problems and treating insomnia. Sometimes, it’s used as a complementary therapy for patients suffering from other chronic pain conditions. 

This form of therapy is typically done in a therapist’s office. A trained cognitive therapist works with the clients in either individual or group sessions. 

There are also several techniques in administering cognitive therapy. Some techniques include validity testing, cognitive rehearsal, journaling, and guided discovery. The therapist helps the client learn and develop skills that help them reassess negative thoughts on their own. 

It also takes a shorter time to accomplish compared to traditional talk-therapy. It takes as few as 6 sessions for some people to achieve their goals. However, keep in mind that results vary from person to person. For people with more long-standing problems, a couple of weeks or months may be adequate to address their needs. 

Learning Disability In Children – How Does It Affect Mental Health

A learning disability may seem normal to everybody. Most children with particular learning problems appear to have a higher risk of developing additional mental health issues. These children also get a diagnosis of depression and anxiety. Why is that? Let us move closer to some of the reasons why learning disability often gets connected with mental illness.

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It Makes Children Believe That Isolation Is The Best Option

If you have not noticed, the majority of children with a learning disability are often unapproachable. It is not because they are naturally irritable or something, but because they are anxious about everything. There is this mentality that when people figure out that they have a learning problem, these kids quickly feel uneasy. They get scared of criticism and judgment. They become afraid to be around people because somehow they knew they would become the center of unfortunate events. So for them to be able to protect themselves from emotional or physical harm, they tend to isolate themselves. Sadly, these kids can only cling to isolation because they understand how mean and unreasonable most people can be. The emotional and mental torture that others give these kids makes them embrace the entirety of being alone.

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It Becomes The Primary Reason For Bullying

For those kids with a learning disability, everyday social interaction is a struggle. There is too much verbal, emotional, and mental harassment that these kids with learning disabilities face every day from other people. There is always the risk of getting bullied by other kids because of the intellectual, physical, and mental incapacity. There is a vast amount of pressure that these kids have to endure only to avoid getting harmed. Of course, you can rest assure them that not all people are like that. There are still a couple of individuals who are more than willing to be friends with them despite their obvious difference from others. However, these kids with a learning disability are sensitive enough to excuse the act of bullying. They will never see it as anything positive but an action that always intends to harm them physically, emotionally, and mentally.

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It Makes Children Force To Hide Their Feelings

The saddest part of dealing with kids’ emotional dilemmas is the incapability of knowing where and what hurts them. Most of the time, it seems pretty easy to identify why children feel sad and lonely. However, with the presence of a learning disability, kids are often untrue with their feelings. They will tell you that everything is okay, even if you knew it isn’t. They try to make faces and laugh at themselves only to avoid the harshness of other people’s comments about their condition. In some unfortunate situations, they lie to themselves only to stay out of the public’s eyes. But deep inside, these kids emotionally suffer. They often wonder why they tend to be unusual than others. You may not hear them ask or complain about it. But somehow, they knew they are different compared to the majority of kids around them. It is just that they feel embarrassed to tell the world that they are somehow struggling so hard of doing things that are quite easy for others.

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It Makes Them Think That They Are Undeserving

A learning disability impacts a lot of kids’ aspects. There is a struggle with social interaction as some children might have a hearing or visual problem. Then there is also the intellectual incapacity that often results to slow comprehension. Also, there are cognitive and behavioral issues that probably come from an overall deterioration of the kids’ wellbeing. With that said, these unfortunate things that take a portion of children’s life make them feel undeserving. They seem to view their disability as a valid reason for their unworthiness. That mentality becomes excruciating and deteriorating because it gets accompanied by embarrassment and humiliation. It makes children feel bad about themselves for not being able to act normal like the others. And over time, emotional and mental torture takes away the children’s motivation to self-love and self-improve.

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Final Thought

Children are way too unpredictable. They act on things based on their judgments, and sometimes they forget to incorporate logic to their response. You can’t blame them, though, because it is their nature.  But with those kids with a learning disability, everything about their words and actions needs a definite moment. Expressing themselves would need time so they can think about what they are about to say. There is the pressure of wanting to be normal and not being laughed at.

It is unfortunate that most people do not genuinely want to talk about children’s learning disabilities. But if you know someone struggling with the condition, please make him or her feel that the learning disability is not a thing that defines them. Please do assure the kids that being different is entirely okay.

Helping A Family Understand The Common Types Of Learning Disabilities

Unfortunately, learning disabilities are pretty common. In the United States alone, about 15% of individuals struggle with some of a diagnosable form of learning disability. There are different types of learning disabilities. Some are easy to recognize, while others tend to be complicated. These complicated ones often confuse parents because of the various terms that are thrown around the condition. But with regard to the general public’s situation, there are three officially and commonly recognized learning disabilities. Let’s take a look at those.

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Reading Disability

One of the three common disabilities that the majority of people encounter is the reading disability or also known as a reading disorder. Sometimes, it gets categorized as dyslexia, depending on the particular present characteristics that individuals have. It is a condition where individuals have difficulty learning numbers and letters. Sometimes, it gets associated with the difficulty in learning letter and its sound correspondence. An example of this is when individuals know what a particular letter is, but happen to pronounce it in a different sound. Also, another part of the reading disability is the blending of sounds. It connects to the possible problem of the brain, specifically the phonological memory. It is the process of the mind that stores sound information.

As you can see, reading disability is a condition related to the slow process of the brain. It is a mental development issue that leads to problems reading, not just a single word, but almost all of it. That is because individuals with a reading disability do not have automatic processing that typical readers have. It tends to extend into cognitive issues such as damaged reading comprehension. It can result in individuals not understanding thoughts and ideas from paragraphs and full sentences. It becomes impossible for people to get through different texts, put every word together, and derive meaning.

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Math Learning Disability

A math learning disability, also known as dyscalculia and math dyslexia, relates to the difficulty processing numerical information. Usually, people look at is as a normal thing. There is an assumption that individuals struggling with math only need time and more practice to progress. However, math disability is not just about a slow process of numbers but also the difficulty of learning mathematical facts. Individuals with this disability are often weak in mental arithmetic skills, slow in performing basic calculations, struggle in fixing vital analytical concepts, and suffer from a poor sense of estimations.

For people with a math disability, addition is their default operation. They have difficulty counting numbers backward, and they do not understand place values. Usually, the symptoms become noticeable when individuals find it mentally and emotionally exhausting to understand different kinds of number-related problems. They experience high levels of mathematical stress, which leads to other mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. Unfortunately, there is no solution for this condition. Math learning disability is not a phase that people can outgrow.

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Writing Disability

Writing disability is also one of the common disabilities that the majority of people encounter. It is known as a disorder of written expression and sometimes called dysgraphia. Though it is often known to many as a mild category, writing disability has quite a bit of variability. One is the difficulty with the act of writing. It is where individuals find it hard to make necessary writing hand strokes and movements. It often relates to those people who either cannot seem to write in bold or cursive letters. Also, individuals with this disability struggle with forming numbers and letters.

But in general, writing disability is the individuals’ incompetency to get their thoughts down on paper. As it progresses, it becomes a whole different level of struggle in understanding the mechanics of writing, such as spelling, punctuation, and capitalization. Another thing that associates with the disability is the problem with content writing. Unfortunately, individuals with this type of disability who might have thoughts and ideas in their brains find it difficult to organize words. And as the condition worsens, these people are unable to express themselves better in written and oral communication.

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Insight

These three types of disability might seem to be the most common ones, but there are also other learning disabilities that the family should take note of. These are not necessarily classified formally, but the individuals, particularly children, usually have it. Families should watch out for executive malfunction. These difficulties affect individuals’ functions such as arithmetic abilities, gross motor skills, visual-spatial skills, and global processing of information. Also, it is a category of disability where individuals struggle with the set of skills that involve generating strategies to solve problems, make decisions, and create better judgments. Executive malfunction also affects impulse control and emotional and behavioral regulation. People suffer from this type of difficulty for many different reasons. And though it is not formally classified, it certainly affects individuals’ ability to learn.

An Education Crisis Turned Into Opportunity

Governments around the world have temporarily shut down schools and universities to contain the spread of COVID-19. In an unprecedented turn, our educational institutions saw the need to bring out their crisis management experts – yet no one could have predicted the scale and impact of this pandemic.

In these challenging times, we are presented with tools, resources, and tips online and offline. But how do we find those that work?

UNICEF estimates that some of the world’s 1.5 billion students, which includes primary, secondary and tertiary students, will not go to school physically. Given the current state of our classrooms and learning establishments, social distancing as part of the “new normal” makes it almost impossible to follow.

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The in-person schooling experience is irreplaceable but school systems can still engage students in meaningful and productive ways online. Digital technologies offer a variety of capabilities for remote learning.

Unfortunately, there is a considerable disparity in universal access to high-speed broadband or electronic devices necessary to deploy online learning, the most critical being the teacher’s ability to provide distance learning.

Remote Teaching

If there is one lesson that educators need to learn from COVID-19, that crisis always offers opportunities. The structures that we have been operating with before the coronavirus era has begun to show immense gaps. For lecturers, the lack of professional development and training resources have resulted in inefficient work, which has added to the pressure of coping with the disease in the first place.

How can educators take advantage of online learning? In 2008, two authors coined the term Massively Open Online Courses or MOOCs to illustrate the theory of connectivity knowledge. They wanted to explore how interactions between a wide variety of participants can be made possible by online tools to improve and contribute to a more productive learning environment than the traditional setup.

“Teacher professional development represents a conundrum that perfectly encapsulates the systematic problem with education that we have as a society,” said Dr. Justin Marquis, Ph.D., Director of Curriculum and Instruction at Gonzaga University. “We expect teachers to not only be well trained initially, but to also be responsible for continually renewing their knowledge and skills.”

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As if it wasn’t already a burden, teachers now need to acknowledge their skills gap in working remotely from students. Fortunately, this gives them more time to consider their careers and how to upskill using available online tools. Marquis cites several factors that make MOOCs a perfect option for ongoing teacher professional development.

  • Free – Unless it’s a privately held institution, it’s well-known that the government budget for the educational system is lacking. Administrators and school boards should maximize low-cost options for professional development with a wide array of choices.
  • Flexible – Online education provides flexibility in time and location. Since most teachers work long days at school that leaves little time to rest, taking courses to fit their schedule is now possible through on-demand learning.
  • Adaptable – Most education technology platforms are based on US and UK models, making them world-class. Teachers can choose which philosophies to adapt to their individual needs, as well as comparing content across different universities.
  • Teachable – Teachers who are motivated to keep their professional credentials active understand how learning works. MOOCs are suited for educators who are qualified to adjust the content and the process to meet their needs.

Teach Better By Learning

In a Harvard Business Review study, 52% of the Coursera course completers surveyed reported they took the course to improve their current job or to find a new job. Instead of educational benefits, MOOCs appear to be more effective in delivering courses that aid in career development. Other platforms like Udemy, Udacity, and Khan Academy also provide useful resources for professional improvement.

Before COVID-19, administrators evaluated teachers based on their classroom management techniques and lecture style. School administrators focused on improving physical facilities and upgrading to the latest technology software. Now that almost everything has moved online, how do we measure effectiveness in teaching?

Parents who used to think that homeschooling was ineffective are now experiencing some aspects of it as they assume a teacher support role in the home. After weeks or months of isolation, a lot of us will have experienced losing family and friends to the virus, opportunities to gather and socialize, as well as some resources and health caused by stress.

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It’s become clear that teachers offer more than delivering lessons in the classroom. At a crisis where many young people struggle to stay well and remain focused, being a source of encouragement and motivation is needed in coping. Teachers who apply what they learn about themselves and through professional development become better educators, and therefore pillars of support.

Some Things Students Want Their Teacher’s To Understand

In the last 2019 educator conference, there is a discussion about how teachers should handle their anxiety towards their students. It was a great topic because it caters to educators’ emotional and mental needs in handling classroom uncertainties. But what about the students’ mental and emotional needs at school? Will their teachers be able to provide them the compassion and understanding they deserve? Let’s try to spell out some of the things students want their teachers to understand.

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Some students lack participation in the classroom. But that doesn’t mean they do not care about learning anymore. At times, they try to explain themselves, but some teachers wouldn’t listen. These students wish their teachers would have compassion instead of assuming everything they say was only an excuse. Sometimes, when students create mistakes, some teachers try and make it look like a big deal. They call the children lazy, pathetic, and undeserving of their time. Sadly, some of these teachers want the students to try their hardest even if they already did. For some, the kids’ efforts are not enough. With that, some students are afraid to ask their teachers for help whenever they struggle in school. Most teachers fail to see that their students are struggling with all the adjustments. Some teachers fail to see that their students are capable of different things. That if one excels, it does not mean everyone will do the same.

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With all these unfortunate instances that students experience, one thing is sure. Teachers are not the only ones struggling with anxiety in the classroom. They are not the only ones dedicating their time, energy, and effort to get things done at school. Therefore, educators must find time to understand what some students are dealing with before they assume and make a bad judgment.

 

Learning Amid COVID-19: Top Educational Apps For Children With Disabilities

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Approximately 7 million children in the U.S. are students with special needs. The scary thing about this is that due to the coronavirus pandemic, their attendant schools are closed. This situation might hamper their learning abilities and, at the same time, stop their progress. 

“One of the hall marks of many of these children is difficulty controlling themselves. Many autistic and hyperactive children move around a lot and find it difficult to focus their attention on tasks. As a result, teachers find these kids to be very disruptive whether they are in a main streamed or special education class,” shares Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

At their specialized schools, they receive individual attention from learning professionals who are familiar with how to handle their cases. Now, they won’t be able to do that anymore. Therefore, experts recommend the need to continue their learning curve through the help of educational apps – those dedicated to children with disabilities. Let’s explore your top choices. 

Learn With Rufus

Learn with Rufus is a compilation of tablet apps that focuses on essential competencies and social cues for special needs students.

  • Boys and Girls is an app for children who still find it challenging to determine male and female faces and who also gets confused with non-typical features. 
  • Feelings and Emotions app helps ASD children who are having difficulty recognizing emotions and identifying facial expressions. 
  • Numbers teaches Math and focuses on counting. 
  • Categories focus on introducing sizes, shapes, and colors. 

What’s good about this series of apps is that the activities are engaging and entertaining. They can also be customized depending on the need of the child. Lastly, its in-app character, Rufus, provides more life to learning. 

Epic!

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Epic! is an electronic library (e-library) dedicated to serving struggling readers. This app offers more than 20,000 educational videos and high-quality children’s books that range from fiction to nonfiction. Take note that this does not only feature famous authors but prominent publishers as well. 

Epic usually has a monthly fee to give commission to its writers and illustrators; however, this has been waived amid COVID-19. 

ChoiceWorks

ChoiceWorks is an app that helps children understand how to control their feelings, complete their daily routines, and increase their patience level (e.g., not interrupting a conversation and taking turns). It is also a learning app in terms of promoting regulating emotions and developing different kinds of positive behavior. 

Montessori Numbers

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Montessori Numbers is a mathematical educational app tailored to students who find it difficult to understand the relationship between numbers and quantities. It establishes the necessary math competencies. They achieve this by introducing numeric order, counting up to 1000, decimal system, adding and subtracting, and comparing quantities. 

One great feature of this app is that it provides palpable and clear visual representations of their materials. Children also learn better because of its voice feature for better understanding and easier memorizing. 

Busy Shapes

Busy Shapes, the latest offering by Edoki Academy, is an activity-based app modeled from Piaget’s cognitive development research. It begins with cause-and-effect programs, which then later evolves to problem-solving activities and tool use. Busy Shapes also offers a series of puzzles located on its in-house evolving and exploratory playground. Here, children with disabilities can improve their motor skills. 

Injini: Child Development Game Suite

The Injini: Child Development Game Suite is a play-based learning platform, full of games and exercises, tailored to kids with language, cognitive, and motor delays. The options here range from problem-solving to mind-boggling activities. The creators designed this to test and cater to those children with Down syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy. 

Although this platform serves those students with needs, their activities are also apt for general preschool-aged kids. The only downside with these, however, is that you have to pay around $30 to be able to download the app. 

The Sounding Out Machine

The Sounding Out Machine is beneficial for those disabled students who are struggling with both reading and decoding. The app voices out challenging words and teaches the user how to pronounce these one syllable at a time. It also tackles rule-breaker and tricky words that will improve their vocabulary. 

What’s unique about this app is that it has a typing window where the student can type a word he or she is confused with. Then, the Sounding Out Machine will teach him or her how to read it. 

It is essential to take advantage of technology, mainly digital learning tools, in the middle of this pandemic. We have to choose the best ones that will bridge the achievement and developmental gaps of students with disabilities. Explore these apps and decide which one best fits your kid. 

How To Help Children With Disabilities

In the last 2019 educator conference, the discussion focuses on children with disabilities. There they talk about what kind of encouragement, love, support, and understanding the young ones need. It is not only for the benefits of their family relationships but for their societal involvement as well. There are positive reinforcements that have been pointed out to help ensure the children’s development. These include their confidence, self-worth, and determination to learn.

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Every single child with a disability faces different challenges. Parents do their part in keeping them socially functional regardless of their situation. But at school, things can be a bit complicated due to the kids’ disabilities. With that, the teachers and the rest of the school educators must take careful considerations.

Keep Things In Perspective

Educators’ role in children with disabilities is vital. They are the ones that should approach learning challenges as something that can be overcome over time. The teachers’ hard work and perseverance must contribute to the kids’ overall development. So instead of forcing or pressuring the children to learn, these professionals should implement a safe and friendly environment for everyone. It should enable a significant engagement between kids as well. It should make a considerable impact on children with disabilities’ emotional and mental aspects.

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Helping children with disabilities doesn’t have to be that hard. As long as there is a clarification of goals, then things can come in negotiation. Parents and teachers must understand the importance of listening before they can offer new solutions because the only way they can guarantee a good life for these kids with disabilities is by encouraging them to strengthen their weaknesses. Parents and teachers must work together and support the young ones’ build-up of competency and success.

Do not hesitate to make choices. Discuss with other parents and educators the children’s situation so everyone can come up with a better solution.

 

Essential Messages An Educator Should Convey To Students With Learning Difficulties

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Teachers are some of the most impactful individuals in a person’s life from childhood. With an excellent educator around, they can forget the problems at home. The students can also gain a second parent in them, which is significant, especially for kids who come from a broken family or are standing at crossroads.

The same goes for children with learning difficulties. Perhaps more than their classmates or parents, the teachers can understand and see their academic struggles the most. And considering they are past the preschool age, the students spend at least one-third of their weekdays at school. Thus, if there’s someone who can encourage a troubled learner to make progress, that may be a teacher.

Check out a few essential messages an educator should – and can – convey to students with learning difficulties below.

You Are Not A Failure

The first thing you may notice with kids who can’t keep up with the class academically is that they often look at themselves in a bad light. If you ask such a student to describe himself or herself, it’s possible to hear self-deprecating words, e.g., dumb, idiot, and letdown, come out of their mouth.

As their teacher, you need to correct this perception over and over until the children can accept that they genuinely are not failures. This path may be a bit rocky in the beginning, but its fantastic effect on the learner will make it worth all your effort.

It’s Not Necessary To Learn As Fast As Others

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Students with learning disabilities also tend to get angry or frustrated when they realize they are falling behind the rest of their peers. That’s when the rebellious side goes to the surface and causes more distractions in their life.

One way to avoid that is to instill in your student’s minds that it’s irrelevant to compare their learning speed with other people. There will be individuals who will always be better than them at something, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have the same knowledge as others. Once they persevere, nothing is impossible.

The Disability Is Only A Hurdle You Can Jump Over

Regardless of your religious beliefs, it cannot hurt to think of the difficulty as an obstacle that the student can crush as soon as he or she is ready. Aiding the learners to see the issue as such is highly essential for their improvement. Kids, in fact, may appreciate that kind of simile, mainly if they are into games.

We Are Here To Help You

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Last but not least, reassure the student that you, along with their friends, family members, and batchmates, are available whenever he or she requires assistance. It is far too easy to feel inferior during this situation, as well as have that emotion play tricks in their minds. That may result in loneliness and depression, which can only make matters worse.

Open communication is highly vital to allow them to realize that you’re not merely saying it on a whim. Give the child a number where he or she can call or text you to clarify things about the previous lessons. In addition to that, offer remedial classes and create lesson plans that will be extra beneficial to them.