If your child has an intellectual disability, also known as mental retardation, it can be challenging to know what type of education he or she should be receiving in school. Every child — no matter their challenge — deserves a meaningful education.
Here are three types of skills that help make an education meaningful for children with intellectual disabilities.
Children with special needs often struggle with reading and/or speaking skills. Because children with intellectual and learning disabilities range in their progress, abilities and needs, a special education teacher should monitor your child closely to identify which language skills to focus on.
For example, those who cannot sound out words to read may improve reading skills by memorizing important words and signs. To improve speaking skills, some children may learn sign language to help communicate their needs, while others may practice the pronunciation of words.
The collective goal for improving language skills in children with an intellectual disability is to improve their potential to communicate basic needs with others and to better navigate the world around them by understanding signs, directions and functions.
The main function of school is to give children the tools they need to work in the real world. Adults with special needs carry out important roles in businesses too, such as stocking the food we eat in grocery stores, welcoming incoming shoppers or tidying up spaces to keep them safe. As with all young children, learning to be respectful and follow directions is the first major step in learning how to work with others and carry out tasks independently.
Special needs teachers should set behavioral goals, such as pushing in your chair, waiting patiently in line, saying please and thank you, raising your hand to speak and more. However, certain behavioral skills may require more attention for children with special needs, such as learning to be gentle with objects and coping with upset feelings.
Establishing appropriate and expected social queues to children with an intellectual disability may help them feel more accepted and avoid hurt feelings. This is when school is most fun! Games and activities can help these children interact with each other.
A teacher should focus on improving social skills by showing children when physical contact is acceptable and in what way, how sarcasm, figurative language and humor works, what body language may indicate, the types of conversations that are appropriate and more.
What do I do if a teacher is not invested in these skills?
If your child's teacher is failing to address these skills or to help your child progress in them, they’re not following the law. The Supreme Court has established that special needs students are entitled to an education that helps the child progress at a level that is appropriate according with the child’s circumstances. Talk to a special education lawyer to learn more about taking action against this neglect. A special needs attorney can help you fight for your child’s right to a proper education.