What is special needs education

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What is special needs education?

A special needs education is the education given to those who are emotionally, behaviorally, and physically challenged. It is also for children with learning disabilities.

Why is special needs education important?

The truth is, children with disabilities will find it hard to thrive in regular schools. A special school might be what the child needs to catch up with their peers. The teaching methods in special needs schools are very different from that of regular schools. The good news is that some regular schools in Nigeria have the special needs section. However, most special needs schools run independently of regular schools.

Who can benefit from special needs education?

If you’re wondering what is special needs education and how it might help your kids, then you are in the right place. According to The Good Schools Guide, it is an education for children with:
• Autism
• Dyslexia
• Behavioural issues like ADD and ADHD
• Dyspraxia
• Genetic issues like Down syndrome
• Speech and Language difficulties
• Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
• Severe learning disorder

what is special needs education

What to do if you have a special needs child?

Having a special need child isn’t the end of the world. There are special needs people who have gone on to achieve greatness. Your child will never lack role models. Ray Charles achieved superstardom as a blind musician. Stevie Wonder was born blind. Albert Einstein was dyslexic. Leonardo da Vinci the artist was dyslexic. Anderson Cooper is dyslexic. Special needs children still grow up to be very successful people. You have to love and support your special needs child!

The challenges of raising special needs children in Nigeria

For a parent with a special needs child, the question of what is special needs education usually comes from a painful place. The challenges these parents face are unique, and some of them are:

1 Superstition
People will wonder if the parents of the child did something to offend some deity and that’s why they ended up with the child. The problem is that most people will even approach the parents and ask these upsetting questions.

2 The scarcity of good special needs education in Nigeria
Parents often find it difficult to find good schools for their kids. Good schools are few and far between, so parents may be forced to commute long distances to and fro.

what is special needs education

3 Stigma
Families of special needs children often face the stigma associated with having a child that is considered other. Some parents report having neighbours warn their kids to stay away from children with special needs so as not to contract whatever the child has.

4 Expensive healthcare
Qualitative healthcare is expensive in Nigeria, so parents of kids with disabilities often have to fork out lots of money to ensure that their child gets adequate care. This usually shakes the economic situation of the family.

what is special needs education

5 Lack of government support
In more developed climes, the government funds research that would better the lives of their special needs citizens, leading to new discoveries on how to make their lives better. That is not the case in Nigeria.

Regular schools vs Special needs schools

As a parent of a special needs child, you might find the answers to the question what is special needs education yet still go ahead and enroll your child in a regular school. The desire to give your child a normal life is understandable, but a regular school is usually not the best option for the child.

If you opt for a regular school, it will be best if the school authorities know about your child’s special requirements. This is to enable them to give the child the best possible care. Also, monitor the child’s education closely to see if it is actually working out well.

If you make the brave decision to enroll your child in a special needs school, here’s what you should expect:
• The teacher will tailor the child’s education to suit their disability.
• The school will ensure that the method of instruction, whether written or verbal, works for the child.
• The school will provide caring, efficient teachers for the child because it is important for them to see their teacher as their friend. Learning is easier when the teacher is less of an authority figure and more of a friend.
• Special needs children require patience and love, and their school must devote more time to them than a regular school.
• The child’s interests matters, and so, if they love drawing or singing, their lessons could be customised to match their passions
• The lessons seldom stretch out into hours like in regular schools. Learning intervals will give your child much-needed breaks to absorb the lessons and get ready for the next session.
• What is special needs education and what can it do for your child? Special needs teachers are trained to make learning fun and, most importantly, short.
• The teacher will find out what appeals to the child. If the child loves art, the teaching will include making out more time for art lessons. Other subjects and activities will take lesser time.
• Teaching aids are important in special needs education. Your child learns with pictures, words, and videos.
• When you enroll your child in a school that works to better their lives irrespective of their disability, then you, as the parent, will have peace of mind. Now you can rest assured that your child is in capable hands.
• The child will get to surround themselves with children who are just like them. In regular schools, they could be bullied because they are different. They can feel at home amongst their peers in special needs schools.
• When you enroll your child in a school for special needs children, you are entrusting the child in the care of trained professionals. The teachers and other staff of the school have the required training to take care of your child when you’re not around.

Resource: The Good Schools Guide

Also Read: 11 Difficulties Nigerian parents face

Written by

Julie Adeboye