1. Interventions for Children with Special Educational Needs

Interventions for Children with Special Educational Needs

Published on 29 Nov 2019
Special Education Needs
Special Educational Needs

Letitia Lim describes the types of interventions that can help children with special educational needs learn better in the classroom and at home. 

A child with special educational needs is one who faces learning difficulties in the form of disorders or disabilities. The most common learning disorders lie in the areas of reading, writing and mathematics. Also, these children may have sensory or physical needs that make learning challenging. These learning difficulties stem from genetic abnormality, injury or impairments from a disease. Most of these learning disorders are lifelong challenges that children have to endure and cannot be fixed overnight. However, there are many interventions that can help children manage their disorders so that they may learn optimally at school. Such interventions are commonly applied in schools and areas of learning by teachers, tutors and parents. The types of interventions differ with each disorder so it is important to understand the disorder a child has before looking for any kind of help. 


Children with dyslexia encounter problems with basic reading and reading comprehension. They have trouble understanding the relationship between sounds, letters and words. In addition, they are unable to grasp the meaning of words, phrases, and paragraphs. With the right interventions, these children have a good chance of reading and writing normally. Dyslexic children will benefit from one-on-one teaching sessions that involve a few senses taught systematically. These sessions allow children to learn at their own pace as language is taught to them from a structured approach. It is important that teachers and tutors make sure that dyslexic children get plenty of reading and writing practice and give immediate feedback especially when it comes to word recognition. In schools, teachers can allocate more time for dyslexic children to complete tasks and give them assignments that are assessed differently, such as taped tests. Furthermore, dyslexic children can improve their language skills by listening to audiobooks and using word processing computer programs instead of reading.



By definition, dyscalculia covers several lifelong disabilities involving mathematics that vary with different people. Children may have difficulty counting and reading numbers in addition to solving mathematical problems. Furthermore, they may find remembering schedules and memorising timetables and number patterns challenging. As dyscalculic children learn mathematics at a slower pace, hiring a tutor is essential to help reinforce basic mathematical concepts and allow children to learn at their own time with little pressure. Tutoring sessions also provide a place of work with few distractions so that children can be more focused on the task at hand. Children with dyscalculia will be able to understand mathematical concepts better through repeated reinforcement and quick feedback on their mistakes. Furthermore, teachers and tutors can introduce alternative ways of jotting down mathematical ideas other than on paper. They also have to find unique ways to present mathematical facts and encourage these children to ask questions. 



Dysgraphia is a condition that affects the hand’s motion in writing, leading to handwriting that is messy and unclear.With dysgraphia, a child will experience difficulty spelling words while writing. Their writing speed is slowed down as well. Children with this learning disorder will have problems completing written homework and expressing ideas. If dysgraphia is detected early, these interventions will lessen the negative effects of this disorder in the future. Activities that support the formation of letters are crucial in curbing dysgraphia. These activities include playing with clay to strengthen hand muscles, connecting dots and tracing letters to form words and keeping lines in mazes to help with motor control. Once these children enter school, teachers can make sure that they practice the 26 letters of the alphabet in sequence by helping them write letters from dictation and writing the letters from memory with increasing intervals. 

Processing Deficits (Auditory and visual)

For some children, messages are not delivered to the brain effectively due to processing deficits that involve their auditory and visual skills. An impaired auditory system can cause poor spelling and an inability to distinguish similar sounding words. On the other hand, an affected visual system can cause children to have trouble distinguishing shapes and perceiving depth and distance. In addition, processing deficits will negatively impact such children’s ability to read, write and spell. To help improve auditory processing, teachers can utilise assisted technology devices, teach memory strategies and use graphic model organisers to teach spelling. Next, teachers can encourage active verbalisation, self-questioning and implement a part-to-whole teaching approach when it comes to children with visual processing deficits. For both visual and auditory processing deficits, teachers can accommodate students by giving them simple oral instructions, providing a learning space with few distractions, breaking up a task into sections and assisting them with note taking. 


Other disorders that can disrupt learning include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism. They are not classified as learning disorders as their symptoms can be alleviated with medication and therapy. It is vital to detect learning disabilities early as they can have a detrimental effect on the personal and professional lives of children when they are older. Parents should not be discouraged by learning disabilities and realise that their children are as smart as their friends, but just need to be taught in a more unique way. With early detection, continuous interventions and a supportive environment, children with learning disorders are capable of catching up with their peers and leading a normal school life. Therefore, more schools should accommodate these children and provide a conducive environment for them to learn to their fullest potential. 

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