It's week two of the summer linky party over at Freebielicious. I thought I would gear my advice to what to do if you have a special needs child in your class especially the child with severe disabilities. In today's classrooms, many children with severe disabilities are being integrated into regular classrooms. What do you do if you have a child like this in your class? What do you do with a wheelchair, stander, communication device? Who do you go to for advice? Here's a few things to keep in mind.
1. Treat the child just like any other child in your class. That means the same expectations as everyone else (unless there is something like a behaviour plan in place). If everyone is expected to line up, sit quietly, read, do math, etc, then your child with special needs should have the same expectation. Nothing makes a child stand out more than doing something completely different than their peers. Integration does not mean just sitting in the same physical space as your peers. This does not mean that you necessarily have the same expectations academically. For example, if everyone is completing math work then the child with special needs should be completing their math at the same time, even if it's at a different grade level.
2. Arrange your class so that the child can get around easily and has access to all areas of the class.
3. Talk to the class about the child's disability (with or without the child, depending on the child). If the child is able and willing, have them explain things to their peers (only if the child is mature enough to do this). See if your local community has a disability awareness program and invite them to come in and talk to the class.
4. If your child has a paraprofessional, make sure to strike up a good working relationship with them. They can be your best friend. Work together and set up schedules to work in equipment. Make sure the person is "assisting" and not "doing".
5. Give the child "time" if they need it. Time to respond, time to complete work, time to get from one place to another.
6. Try and pair the child up with a friend.
7. Make sure that the child does EVERYTHING that everyone else does. In my class, no one is left out. Check out my post on McHappy Day. When the class ate McDonald's, everyone did, even my students that needed puréed food. You can find creative ways to do anything. If the child can't do the activity then think of something else for the class to do.
8. Make sure you have good communication with the parents. Set realistic goals for the year. It's better to set small goals that are obtainable then larger ones that are not going to be met in one year.
9. Know your child's equipment and make sure it's used. Standers, walkers, wheelchairs and communication devices have all been put into place for a reason. A child can't be in one position all day. Make sure they can get out and stretch.
10. Remember: A child with a disability is still a child. Make sure you have fun.
Check out the blogs below for more great new teacher tips.