Child care providers often work with children who have identified special needs. Working with children who have special needs can be very rewarding if you understand the child and his special need and make appropriate accommodations to support his learning and development. The following articles will help child care providers support children with special needs in a group child care setting.
As a child care provider, it’s important to remember that children with special needs are children first. They have the same needs as all children — a place where they feel physically comfortable, loved and secure; opportunities to play and learn; people who care about them; and activities that allow them to be successful. Children with special needs often are not so different from typically-developing children. They may need more time to learn and practice certain skills. They may need more praise and encouragement to gain the skills typical for their age group. They may need specific adaptations to help them succeed at certain activities. But it’s important to remember that in many, many ways these children have lots in common with other children. Many child care professionals and child advocates emphasize this point by using “children first” language, referring to “a child with special needs” rather than “a special needs child.”
When working with children who have special needs, child care providers need to realize that each child and each disability is unique.A child with visual impairments has different needs than a child with behavioral challenges. A 2-year-old with a physical disability has different abilities and challenges than a 4-year-old with the same type of disability. Some children have more than one type of disability. The severity of the challenges that each disability presents is also different for each child. In some cases, child care providers need to make very few changes or modifications to the child care program for the child with a special need to participate fully. In other situations, modifications to the child care program may require more time, effort and expense.
Everyone benefits when child care programs include children with special needs. Children with disabilities benefit greatly from being with other children and from receiving consistent care from a caring adult. Typically developing children benefit from having a classmate with a special need because they learn respect for a child whose abilities are different from theirs as well as how to respond appropriately and offer help to the child. The following articles provide more specific information on child care that includes children with special needs.
The following articles provide specific information and strategies that child care providers can use to include a child with special needs in the child care program.
The following articles will help child care providers better understand rules related children who have special needs.
The following sections focus on the characteristics of specific disabilities, and include strategies child care providers can use to adapt the program to better include children with each type of special need.