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Cope, Empathize, and Adjust: Children With Exceptional Needs, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 447

Essay

Parental support and advocacy continues to be important for every student, especially for children with exceptional needs. These families experience denial, exhaustion, financial and social setbacks, and misunderstandings. An educator eases the burden upon these parents by providing information and by creating plans, such as the Individualized Education Plan (IEP), the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), and- when applicable- the Response to Intervention (RTI) process (Grant & Ray, 2012). Before planning begins, educators and other professionals should have a specific idea of the exceptional needs of the student as well as the needs and culture of the family. Underneath their external behaviors, their culturally-ingrained ways of learning affect their education (Kaiser).

After the formal plan production phase completes, the informal work begins. The role of the parent differs according to the child’s needs and age. For example, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) relies upon parents as home support professionals and encourages the development of early intervention around “family strengths (rather than deficits), the promotion of family choice, and the development of a collaborative partnership between the family members…system” (Gallagher, Rhodes, & Darling, 2004, p. 5). Kaiser (2013) claims that a child’s inappropriate behaviors typically increase due to biological risk factors, such as ADD or cognitive ability, environmental risk factors, or confusion between school and home cultures.  Gallagher et al. (2004) write that parents adjust to the needs of their children but state that over time parents report feeling less capable due to the increase of outside stressors, frequently as a result of the additional attention needed at home (pp. 12-13).

An educator working with children with exceptional needs must remember to: 1) know the student and their family, 2) receive input and make plans, 3) inform the family and professionals and keep communications open, and 4) remember that the student’s needs change- just as those of an adult change. First and foremost, empathy seems to drive careful decision-making and thorough planning. Simple adjustments to existing plans for students with similar needs do not reflect the best interests of anyone. An educator of children with exceptional needs has their own exceptional need to do the best that they can for their students, including help the parents cope.

References

Gallagher, P.A., Rhodes, C.A., & S.M. Darling (2004). Parents as Professionals in Early Intervention: A Parent Educator Model. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 24(5): 4-13. Print.

Grant, K.B., & Ray, J.A. (2012). Home, School, and Community Collaboration: Culturally Responsive Family Engagement. 2nd ed. Sage Publications, Inc. Print.

Kaiser, B.  (2013). Opening the Culture Door, The Connection Between Challenging Behavior and Culture: Creating Culturally Respectful ECE Environments. The Devereux Early Childhood Initiative.  From Kaiser, B., & Rasminsky, J.S. Challenging Behavior in Young Children.

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