Life and all that jazz

Why I hate the term ‘special’ for children with additional needs

Like childhood isn’t hard enough for the young with the different challenges it presents on the road to adulthood. Some extra frisbee’s are thrown at children with additional needs – whether they may be on the autistic spectrum, have dyslexia, EBD or mobility difficulties or any other additional need. It can make the journey somewhat a less than smooth road than others.

The gifted and talented are also under this title, as they are sometimes not pushed enough to their ultimate potential. Therefore this holds them back from chasing and gaining their individual higher ability targets, in the same way that other individuals are often not given enough support to achieve what they desire with a little helping hand to achieve to their fullest goals no matter what they might be.

Labelling and the consequences of this action can be really damaging to any individual regardless as to whether it is meant with a good intention or not. Being classed as a ‘special needs child’ in the classroom whether upon the individual hears it being said, or sees it written down in paperwork has an isolating effect on that child both mentally and socially.

Mentally that child sees that they have been somewhat distinguished as different to the rest of the children in their environment and almost always is accompanied by negative associations. Just a few consequences to name-from some of what I have viewed; destroyed self-esteem thinking they are not capable of attempting/finishing a task incase the answer goes wrong and may be too anxious to ask for help, completely avoiding some topics of difficulty because these children do not want to feel as though they can’t accomplish a piece of set work if they are really struggling with it, displaying self destructive behaviour in order to bring attention away from their work even if they end up being told off . It seems a preferred option to some incorrect/misunderstood work being looked over and discussed, because the child does not want to be the receiver of critical feedback about their work when they have already been made to feel separated and less capable than the other children. Positive praise is often used in these circumstances where an individual is refusing to work or is struggling and support is given, however more needs to be done to further integrate lesson plans with additional needs children in mind so as not to make them feel excluded or less talented than any other child in the class. Often that individual will then grow up with a mindset that there will be a cap on what they can achieve when looking at others they know , might be getting up to and therefore not set out to follow their dreams if their self confidence has been diminished by others causing them to believe there would be no point in trying anyway which is most certainly a sad situation. Every child has the world ahead of them.

Socially friendship groups can be become somewhat to severely affected depending upon the type of need the individual has and how it displays itself in that person. For example a child with autism may struggle to maintain certain friendships that cause them a lot off stress or embarrassment or become quite confused by some slang terms or playful sarcasm as communication can be a great difficulty a lot of things are interpreted very literally. If children are making jokes which involve a required amount of thinking and some light humour a child with autism may find it hard to understand the difference between a joke or an actual indirect insult being thrown their way. There can also be several degrees and a variety of formats of bullying that take place aimed at the young – specifically to try and ‘trick’ a person into a situation or to become peer pressured into something they know the other person might not understand isn’t healthy for them (whether that be the mind or the body. ) That individual may also struggle to operate in the community on their own most effectively if they struggle to converse with members of the public or having to talk to somebody they don’t know, but could be a real blessing to anybody if the right support is given to help that person be the best version of them self whatever it requires.

As we all know anyway, somebody having an additional need or several for whatever reason that may be –  does not mean that person is any less able to carry out the same roles and responsibilities as others their age, it simply means that the person just requires a little something to help them reach their goals and tackle any struggles with some guidance or resources. Too often in society it is sometimes spoken about as though the person is never going to manage some life milestones at the time society expects them to be performed as I have seen this happen to people I am close too. This should not be happening! Each person is unique and beautiful beyond closed minded opinions, so there should be no comparisons between individuals’ capabilities. After all not one person was created to be a replica of anyone else, we’re all talented in multiple ways and for good reason rant over 🙂

Love always,

Lottie x