Creating 0pportunities for children with special needs
Once the meeting starts, welcome everyone and ask the participants: • Who can help us remember what we talked about in our last meeting? • Who was able to do the activity at home that we asked you to do at the end of the meeting? How did it go? • Does anyone have questions or concerns after doing the activity?
What are we going to learn?
We are going to learn how to help the family, community and other institutions to better include children with special needs. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT! We are going to look at some pictures, so we can talk about what we all know about this topic.
What type of special attention do children with special needs require? What can be done in the community to support children with special needs?
Are there children with special needs in your community? Tell us about them.
section 11 / community topics • meeting 70
“Everyone can participate” We will mention the children that we know from the community that have special needs and we will plan an activity that will inlcude them.
What we’ll need: • A handkerchief • A flipchart
WHAT WE’LL DO: • Markers At the previous meeting, ask everyone to bring a handkerchief to this meeting. Explain that we are going to experience what it would be like to be blind. Then ask everyone to tie the handkerchief over their eyes. When everyone has their eyes covered, give them instructions for how to move about the room. For example: “walk forward…now walk to the back of the room…look for the door…find someplace to sit down.” • After awhile ask everyone to take off the handkerchief and talk about how they felt during the activity. • Explain that being blind is a disability and so are being deaf or not being able to walk. • Ask the group if there are disabled children in the community and what the communities’ attitude is towards these children. Ask participants to name specific children in the community and talk about what disability they have and what the families do to manage the special need. • Then divide the participants in two groups and give each a piece of flipchart paper. Have them write at least 5 community activities that they could organize for children with special needs. The focus should be on creating an environment that is more inclusive for these children. • Ask each group to share their ideas with the other groups. Help the group choose two activities that people agree on and decide on a day when they can do these activities with the children of the community including the special needs children.
Other Suggestions: Some disabilities are caused by accidents or hereditary illness; others can develop during pregnancy or childbirth. Invite a doctor to come and explain preventative cautions to take during pregnancy to prevent disabilities and to talk about which community beliefs are myths and which are reality (For example, some cultures believe that looking at an eclipse causes disabilities in the baby or pregnant mother but doctors know this is not true).
What did we learn today? Now, we’ll review what we discussed today. • How do you feel after this meeting? Why? • What are the two most important things you’ve learned today? • What will you do differently based on what you learned during the meeting? • What did you like the most? Are there things you didn’t like? • Do you have any remaining concerns or questions about what we talked about? To finish, what would you recommend to improve today’s meeting when we do it again with another group. (Explain that answering this question will help the meeting be even better in the future for parents with small children.)
To do at home:
• Ask a commission to visit the homes of children with disabilities to observe the special needs that they have and how the committee can improve the children’s participation in the community. • Tell each participant to take the opportunity to share the medical information they have learned with a friend who is pregnant.
Basic information for the facilitator: Learning more about creating opportunities for children with special needs: 1- What is a disability?
• Disability is when a person, due to a birth defect or accident, loses some ability--mentally, physically or both. • Disability is a “result of the limitations imposed” on people with impairments by attitudinal, institutional, and environmental barriers to their participation in society. What is not normal is being discriminated against and socially excluded because of having an impairment. This is what is “disabling”. (WWI TDI Disability Working Group)
2-How to help children with disability:
• The early years are the best opportunity to intervene in a child’s life, as this is the period of maximum growth and development. Early intervention provides opportunities to prevent some disabilities and reduce the impact of others. For example, including children with physical impairment in preschools can prevent mental impairment that can happen if the child is not properly stimulated.
section 11 / community topics • meeting 70
76 • Children with disability go through the same stages of development as children without disability but at a different rate, so they should be given the same opportunities as non disabled children to develop to their full potential. • The social isolation experienced by children with disability being excluded from community programs can have a negative effect on the child’s development. Exclusion in the early years can reinforce exclusion throughout life. Including children with disability in preschools benefits both disabled and non-disabled children. Non-disabled children are exposed to disabled children and this teaches open-mindedness and acceptance. Children with disability benefit from interaction with non disabled children and learn positive behaviours and skills. • Including adults and children with disability in community activities such as preschool can contribute to a positive atmosphere for everyone involved. Children with disability are created and loved by God just as much as children without disability.
3- How to identify children with disability:
• Early identification is critical for intervention in the lives of children with disability. Caregivers need knowledge about the basic skills that babies should learn at different stages. Caregivers should seek help from professionals if their child is delayed in going through any of the normal stages of development such as rolling, sitting, walking, talking or holding objects. • Once a disability is identified the caregiver needs to immediately seek support from professionals in how to best help the child to develop. For example, physiotherapy will be needed to for physically disabled young children. The caregiver can learn the therapy techniques from the physiotherapist and work with her child at home. • Mental disability is not usually apparent until the child is beyond the toddler years. Caregivers will need to seek help from professionals to learn how to handle the mentally disabled child. • Parent support groups can be organized for parents of children with disability. • Children with disability need to have the same treatment as children without disability such as regular health check-ups and good nutrition.
4- Including children with disability:
• Including children with disability in community activities such as preschool is critical for their overall development. Preschool teachers need training to learn how to include a child with disability in the preschool program. • The community as a whole needs to conduct advocacy programs which raise awareness about the rights and needs of people with disability. Advocacy at government levels can prompt the government to provide training for teachers of children with disability and to provide support for parents of children with disability. • Awareness raising can also be conducted about how to prevent disability, such as accident prevention and immunization. • Including children with disability in other community activities such as weddings, birthdays, festivals and funerals is important for the child to learn positive social behavior and to feel loved and accepted by their community. It is also important for the community to welcome the child with disability and to celebrate the life of a person with disability as an equal.