Early Intervention And Detection Of Medical, Emotional, And Physical Disorders And Disabilities Essay, Research Paper
In the past children with disabilities were most often neglected, abused, and even killed. Today, however, society has become more understanding and involved in the lives, as well as the education of people with disabilities. In 1975, PL 94-142, otherwise known as The Education for All Handicapped Children Act, was the first step to providing adequate education for disabled students. Since then, many laws have been passed to increase the quality of education provided for children with different types of impairments. But, before any specialized education can be implemented, the child with special needs must be identified and the type of disability determined.
The first of three areas discussed is autism. Autism, according to Hallahan and Kauffman (1997), is ” a disorder characterized by extreme withdrawal, self-stimulation, cognitive deficits, language disorders, and onset before the age of thirty months.” Although the cause of autism is not completely understood, it is known that it has something to do with a neurological or biochemical dysfunction. Contrary to what was originally thought, autism is not a form of mental retardation. It manifests itself in varying degrees of severity, from profound to mild. Dr. Temple Grandin is an assistant professor at Colorado State University who was diagnosed as autistic at a young age, yet with proper help, she continued through school and earned a Ph.D.
Autism is usually diagnosed in the first three years of life. Early indication of autism may be seen in one or more ways. First, there is a lack of response to other people. This can be as simple as not acknowledging a mothers touch, or extreme distress at the touch of another. There are problems in speech and communication, such as echolalia, the parroting of words and phrases, or unintelligible speech. Often, the child will maintain a prolonged fixation on an object or a certain behavior.
As is the case with some disabilities, autistic tendencies become apparent at an early age. Since autism is usually discovered in the first three years of life, it is a condition that may become apparent at home, and may be discovered by the parents. There are programs available for preschool age autistic children in some elementary schools that offer speech therapy and stimulus for the child to prepare for learning life skills later on.
When discussing physical impairments, there are too many to try and list individually. Certain physical disabilities are more easily recognized at birth, or shortly after because they are more readily apparent and noticeable. Some diseases do not manifest themselves until school age, of which muscular dystrophy is a good example. Clumsiness, walking with a strange gait and repetitive falling down, trouble rising to a standing position, and difficulty climbing stairs are signs of muscle deterioration and tendon contraction (Phipps, 1998). Many times, secondary disabilities accompany a primary disability. In some cases of spina bifida, scoliosis, or lateral curvature of the spine is evident. Most neurological type disabilities often cause problems with speech and writing because of the loss of fine motor skills. A student that is reluctant read in class due to poor speech or who’s writing is not of the same caliber as that of his or her class mates could be exhibiting sings of an underlying physical impairment.
Of the three disabilities mentioned specific learning disability, or SLD, is one of the few that does not become apparent until school age. The newest of recognized disabilities, it quickly became the largest group in the area of special education. Almost half of all students identified as eligible for special education classes are SLD. It is a disability that must be lived with throughout a person’s life. (Hallahan, Kauffman, 1997) Contrary to what was once thought, SLD is not a form of mental retardation. SLD students usually have a normal I.Q. and may even be gifted. There is, as of yet, been no reason found as to the cause of learning disabilities.
Early intervention for learning disabilities is very problematic. What may be mistaken as a learning disability could very well be developmental delay in a child. Also, SLD does not become apparent until a child begins work in academics.
As teachers and learners, the ideal time and situation to identify and help students with disabilities is in the first few years of school. It is important to learn to recognize a child that is having trouble in school, may be experiencing early signs of a disability. The child who refuses to read in class may be defiant because he cannot recognize the words on the page if he is dyslexic, or cannot see them if he is vision impaired. As leaders and advocates, teachers should be in the forefront to institute changes designed to help disabled children succeed in school. Most often, it is not the work of just one person who accomplishes great things, but the collaboration of several individuals working together. The same is true in the teaching profession. It takes more than one teacher to make a good student.
When a teacher has reason to believe a student is disabled, the administration is essential for implementing changes needed for the student to get help for their disability.
The discovery of a child with a disability can have devastating consequences to a family. The mother and father of a child often turn to the teacher of the child for help and guidance. It is important to be supportive to the family to help them in a difficult time.
According to Bricker (1986), there are three arguments for early intervention:
1. The sooner a special program for intervention is begun, the further the child is likely to go in learning more complex skills.
2. It provides support to families and helps prevent the child from developing additional problems or disabilities.
3. It helps families adjust to having a child with a disability, gives parents the skills they need to handle the child at home, and helps parents find additional support services they might need.
It is easy to see that early intervention is more difficult in some cases than others. Ideally, teachers should be able to notice the child that is behaving differently, and to watch for signs of a disability. However, the reality is that some times teachers have more students than is optimal, and students are not given the help they need. As educators, it is our responsibility to see to it every student is given the chance to reach his or her full potential.
Bricker, D. (1986). An Analysis of Early Intervention Programs. New York: Pergamon Press.
Hallahan, D. & Kauffman, J. (1997). Exceptional Learners; Introduction to Special Education (7th ed.) Boston: Allyn and Bacon.
Phipps, S. (1998). DMD Genetics Fact Sheet; Who is At Risk? http://www.mda.org.au/