How to talk to your child about children in the school who have special needs.
Children are naturally curious. They notice things and they want to know why?! In terms of special needs and disability, it’s always better to answer their ‘why?”. Information is the first step to understanding others and is the bedrock of inclusivity.
It goes without saying that the most important thing is attitude and experience shows that children model their parents attitude. An open, positive attitude from the parent body is key. It may also be helpful, in the first instance if you, the parent, have an awareness of the types of disability and special needs diagnoses present in our school population. There are also other medical needs in the school population.
- The school has an Assisted Learning Class (ALC) which caters for children who have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Children from the ALC also spend a part of their day in their mainstream class.
- Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) who are in their mainstream classes full-time.
Also in mainstream classes there are…
- Children with Down Syndrome.
- Children with a range of other educational needs, e.g. dyslexia.
- Children with sensory processing disorders and/or attention disorders.
- Children with physical disabilities.
- Children with both physical and intellectual diabilities.
- Children with Dyspraxia.
- Children with Diabetes and other medical conditions.
Just as there are a lot of children with special needs of some kind or other within our school population, there are also a lot of people in our wider world now and in the past who have a diagnosis, see how many you recognise in this little video:
If your child asks questions about another child’s behaviour, abilities, or aids, it may be difficult to know what to say. It can be helpful to be prepared for these questions, or even better still, to begin the age appropriate conversation about disability and special needs with your child.
- The key message to give your child is that we are all different. All children (and adults!) have their areas of strength and weakness. Socially, academically and physically we all have different levels of talent and ability. We are all different and we are all equal in value as human beings. Here’s a link to a video about being different that younger children might enjoy - http://www.nickjr.co.uk/watch/nick-jr-shorts/big-block-sing-song_different.
- The other key message to give your child is that it is important use your words carefully. For example if your child asks ‘what’s wrong with her/him?’, you might repeat and rephrase their question, ‘You mean why is he behaving like that?” or ‘Why does she use a wheelchair?’
- It’s always helpful to be honest. Tell your child if you don’t know the answer to his or her question. Don’t make up an answer that may not be accurate, e.g. ‘he’s special’, ‘she has a sore leg’.
Over the coming months, we will be sharing information and videos that you can watch with your child. Each one will explain and demystify a condition within our school. In the meantime here is a link to an article that you, as a parent, might find helpful: https://www.care.com/a/teaching-your-child-about-peers-with-special-needs-0812040913.