Children with special needs often struggle with language, motor, and sensory processing skills. Difficulties in one or more of these areas may impact how a child interacts with the world. For example, a child with a language delay may have fewer social interactions throughout the day. Because children learn by engaging with the world around them, it is critical that all children have unlimited opportunities for learning. Here are several strategies for helping a child with special needs learn through engagement.
-Never underestimate the power of imitation. Imitate your child and encourage her to imitate you. Guide her through the motions if she needs a bit of help. Even if she’s being guided, she will feel the movement and learn from it.
-Exaggerate, exaggerate, exaggerate! Exaggerate your expressions, your voice and every move that you make in order to get and keep your child’s attention. During play, always position yourself in her line of vision. Your child learns through observation, so the more he watches you, the more he learns.
-Reinforcement may be necessary. A child with special needs may not be naturally excited by play and interaction, so keep the motivation high through positive reinforcement. Be sure to use reinforcers that are motivating and meaningful to your chld.
-Keep it simple. Play doesn’t have to be complicated. Break activities down into simple, basic steps in order to increase your child’s opportunities to successfully complete a task. Praise your child for every small accomplishment.
-Make it fun. Try not to “push” your child. Play should be natural and fun and if your child senses that you aren’t having a good time, it’s likely he won’t have as much fun. Laugh as much as possible and have a good time!