Teens with disabilities are like square pegs being forced to fit into round holes. They begin to feel isolated and frustrated, not because they can’t learn, but because they can’t make others understand their needs. Kids diagnosed with Aspergers’ are unique in several ways. Unlike teens at the opposite end of the Autism Spectrum, those like Armond Isaak (scroll down to see a video of Armond’s story) do function well in school settings, as long as their individual needs are met.
Once his unique needs were understood, the feelings of isolation began to fade and he began to feel more secure in his surroundings. Sometimes a child is only disabled by the treatment he receives from others. With Armond, once the people around him realized what he needed to feel comfortable and secure, they were better equipped to accommodate his needs.
Many educators try to fit all students into one streamlined group. Teens with special needs and learning disabilities rarely fit into those narrowly defined categories. Depending on the disability, their educational needs can be extremely diverse. Many school systems are beginning to understand the importance of having educators who have training with special needs students.
Accepting a child’s individuality will help educators find learning paths that fit their specific needs. For Armond, the key to learning came through reading. He taught himself to read and began devouring every book he could get his hands. on. His mom, knowing her son’s passion for words, encouraged him to write when he felt the need to express himself. His love of reading turned into his way of letting others know how he felt and how he viewed the world around him.
Understand the Differences
Understanding the differences is important when you are dealing with teens with learning disabilities. It can be difficult for them to put into words what they are feeling and how they perceive the world around them. Armond was able to use words to help the other students and his teachers understand what he was feeling.
Students with disabilities may use pictures or drawings to show teachers and peers what they need and connect on an intellectual level. Communicating is the key and it can take many forms, depending on the capabilities of the child with the disability. The most important thing to remember is that being different is not a bad thing. Differences need to be understood and accepted for what they are as well as the individuality they offer each student.
Allowing Kids with Disabilities to Find Their Own Path
Armond embraces his love of reading and found a way to connect with others by using words to tell his story. The gift of meeting his favorite author gave him the inspiration to reach out to others and touch them, much in the same way Nancy Carlson touched him. By showing Armond how to use words to share his feelings, Ms. Carlson opened doors to a world where he can flourish through the use of the written word.
Special needs students who are allowed to learn in ways that are comfortable to them, quickly find ways to excel. When allowed to work with mediums they understand and can use effectively, students with unique needs can meet or exceed any goals they set for themselves. While their path may not be as straight as other students’, it will get them where they need to go.