Special education
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While some children may find certain things easy to complete, a child of special abilities may find it more of a challenge depending on the task. So, to ensure that no child is struggling with their education, learning support services and evaluations on tap at centres for special needs are solutions that are proving highly beneficial. As every child is different, depending on an individual child’s needs, specific learning plans can be tailor-made to ensure that the student gets the best from their learning experience.

Therapies that work

There are many ways in which learning challenges can be overcome. Applied Behaviour Therapy (ABA) is one example of how specific therapies are helping youngsters. Based on the principle of the science of learning and behaviour, ABA is one of the important therapies that can aid children, particularly those with autism. With positive affirmations and the teaching of new skills, the benefits of the therapy are said to include improved social and communication skills, along with other areas. Of course, as with any learning therapy, ABA starts with an evaluation and an assessment of the individual child in order to cater specifically for their needs.

“Evaluation and assessments play an important role in ABA therapy as they determine the individual’s current skill level in all domains,” says Nikki De Leon, Case Manager, The Doris Duan-Young Autism Center (DDY). This helps a clinician identify the child’s baseline.

“Moreover, the result of the assessment will determine how one’s treatment plan or goals will be set. Here at DDY, one of the assessment tools we utilise is The Verbal Behaviour Milestone Assessment and Placement Programme (VB-MAPP). It is an assessment tool used with individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder and other language delays. The milestone assessment section is used to determine the individual’s current skill level, and from there, programme goals tailored to the child’s level are created. The VB-MAPP is readministered every six months in order to track progress.”

Although children are regularly assessed to ensure the optimum outcome for their education, dedicated therapists also have their own regular training.

De Leon says, “We ensure that materials and assessments are available by having the assessment kits organised, ready to use. Apart from that, ongoing training is held to make sure that each therapist conducting the VB-MAPP is knowledgeable on how to run the assessment to ensure that results are accurate and reliable.”

While assessments and help in the classroom are invaluable to a child of determination, things were a little more challenging during the pandemic.

“One of the main challenges that children of determination faced during the pandemic was a regression in their social skills due to limited interaction with the outside world,” says Meera Ramani, Founder and Programme Director at Behaviour Enrichment.

“In the classroom, minor modifications such as assigning a peer buddy, or having a small peer group or secure bubble for each child of determination can help them build their trust, confidence and interact with their peers. Another area where children of determination struggled was a disruption to their daily routine and anxiety as a result. Using visual aids such as a visual schedule, we helped our children adapt back to their regular routines.”

Certainly, not having a regular schedule could be a setback for a child struggling with their education, as there is also the risk of emotional disorders.

Tackling emotional concerns

“Emotional disorders are common among children with learning difficulties. It is a challenge for a child to cope with the emotional hurdles they are confronted with when they fall behind at school,” says Anju Varghese, Founder and Clinical Director, Milestones Autism Rehabilitation Center.

“Such children are often stigmatised due to their academic struggles and learning delays, which often has a significant impact on their self-esteem. An individualised approach, positive communication, reinforcements and encouraging feedback for the child’s efforts are essential for maintaining their interest in their studies. Identifying a child’s strengths and weaknesses, working at their individual level, and providing proper tools for educators through parent and teacher training are the most important factors to supporting the child’s educational and emotional needs.”

Fortunately, a wide range of new-age solutions are in place within the classroom for people of determination. Through various learning support provisions, applied behavioural analysis and evaluation at special needs centres, tools are in place for students to get the best out of their education and thrive.