A look at special education in Malaysia quickly shows that there are a number of children who aren’t being served as well as they could be. While there are numerous programs in place that are aimed at providing special education services, it’s estimated that by 2002, less than ten percent of children and youth with disabilities were receiving the quality of care that they needed. In spite of efforts over the past decade to improve the outlook of children with special needs, there are still children who are going unserved due to geographic considerations.
For those working with an under-served special needs population,it’s necessary to look at the challenges from a different angle than those who are blessed to be able to work with special needs students in high-resource areas. There are a few tips and tricks to keep in mind when working with special needs students in under-served areas.
Never underestimate what they can do.
Many children learn and excel in spite of their disabilities. By putting limits on what you expect of them, you run the chance that you will inadvertently limit what these truly special children are able to accomplish. Instead, set clear, measurable goals for each child and work toward those goals. Once they have been reached, set new goals and work toward them.
Encourage cooperative learning.
There’s no reason why students with learning disabilities can’t work together to accomplish goals, whether shared or individual. Encourage students who are working toward similar milestones to work together, or allow a student working toward higher goals to work with one who is still working on earlier skills. While students with special needs need individualized attention and goals that are created according to their needs, that doesn’t mean that they can’t work together to achieve them.
Offer frequent praise and encouragement, but don’t hesitate to offer more tangible rewards as well. Giving your students something to work toward will encourage them in ways you can’t predict. Celebrate baby steps. What might not be a major milestone for a child without special needs can be an incredible milestone for a child with a learning disability, and it should be celebrated as such.
Working with special needs students is very different from working in a normally-abled classroom. It requires a high level of organization in order to keep up with everything and a dedication to maintaining the goals and plans of each individual student. Because of this, it’s crucial to stay organized. Keep track of each student’s progress. Once you let yourself get disorganized, it can be much more difficult to put everything together again.
Develop relationships with your students and their families.
Special education presents a unique challenge, but it’s a highly rewarding one. The same students who have issues with skills that you take for granted often have the greatest appreciation for all the effort that you put in throughout the day. Take the time to get to know your students so that you can appreciate all that they have to offer you.