Wednesday, 29 January 2014

How Children With Special Needs Are Valued (or Not) in Our Communities - Guest Post


Special needs children and their parents often have a long road ahead of them, and in many areas, facilities and the overall understanding of special needs children is still lacking. While beneficial things like integrated classes are becoming more and more popular, special needs children can still feel alienated from the community, as can the parents of a special needs child.

In the communities we live in, there are still a lot of aspects of special needs children that are not understood by the general public – especially within the average school system. For that reason, many special needs children are not valued the way they should be.

As a parent, teaching the value of your special needs child and combating the ways special needs children are not valued in our communities should be important to you.


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Special Needs Children Can’t Compete

One of the most common things you hear parents and community members say about special needs children is that while they deserve attention, they can’t compete with other children, especially in the classroom. While this is often an argument against integrated classes, the truth is that many special needs children can rise to the level of any child in a classroom with proper education.

Just because a special needs child doesn’t currently have the same skillset as another child doesn’t mean it can’t be developed, worked on and improved.

They Aren’t Capable

Special needs children are often viewed as not as capable as other children within the community. The truth is that while special needs children may need additional help and education in some aspects of life, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t fully capable in others.

Not all special needs children are incapable of doing many of the tasks that their peers do, and simply assuming that they can’t is a very closed-minded view.

Special Needs Children Teach Compassion

In the classroom and even on the playground, special needs children can help to teach compassion to their fellow classmates. Compassion isn’t the same as feeling sorry for a special needs child – it simply means lending a hand to a fellow human that needs help.


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Not only in a school setting but even in everyday life, compassion can be taught by special needs children. Whether they are playing on a sports team with other kids, in girl or boy scouts, or just simply with you at the supermarket, people of all ages can learn to be compassionate just from being around them.

They’re A Burden to Society

Another common argument against integrated classrooms and even funding for special needs programs is that special needs kids are a burden to society and don’t have anything to offer. It’s simply not true, and special needs children who get the education and attention they need are very likely to be able to perform in society.

Who’s to say that a child with special needs can’t be a productive member of society before they’ve even been given a chance?

Teaching Tolerance and Empathy

In addition to compassion, special needs children in our communities and schools help to teach tolerance and empathy – both for other special needs individuals and for any individual who is seemingly different. While these messages should be taught outside of interaction with special needs students, integrated classrooms and regular interaction can really help children understand these concepts in a real world way.

Special needs children might not make up a large portion of our communities, but they are an important part – one that shouldn’t be ignored or marginalized. The misconceptions many people have of special needs children need to be erased – corrected with education and knowledge of how helpful they really can be to society.

Otherwise, we’ll be doing special needs children and their peers a great injustice.


Tara Heath is a freelance writer who resides in California. She currently writes for California Special Needs Law Group Blog as well as other education and special needs sites. In her free time she loves to stay active and go to the beach.
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