Does My Child Have Special Needs?
is a question that many parents of young
children ask. This is soon followed by another key question, What is a special
need? A 14 month old child may not yet walk like many of the other children in
the Mommy and Me class. Does that child have a special need? Another child
repeats back everything she hears, including what is on television. Is that a
special need? And if a child does have one or more special needs, where can the
family go to get services and supports that can help?
How special needs are
defined can determine whether or not children may be eligible for treatment and
education services that can improve the quality of their lives and the lives of
their family members.
Here you will learn the two ways that professionals who
have the responsibility for helping children with special needs, like
pediatricians, psychologists and educators, define special needs. They use the
Functional Developmental and the Clinical Diagnostic approaches to help
determine which children may most appropriately benefit from available
treatment and services, and what particular help a child may need.
description that follows of the
Functional Developmental Approach, you will
learn a good deal about the various areas of child development that
professionals study, such as body movement, or motor development, cognitive
development, and social and emotional development. These are the same areas
that are also explored in
The CICC Discovery Tool™.
In the section on the
Clinical Diagnostic Approach, you will learn about how and why professionals
diagnose illnesses and special conditions that some children have and about the
criteria they use for diagnosis. These criteria include those child behaviors
that can potentially create problems for the children and for the people who
love and care for the children. These potential problem behaviors are also
The CICC Discovery Tool™.
At the end of the sections where these
approaches are described, you will be able to find real life stories of
children who were helped by professionals who used these approaches to identify
the special needs these children experienced.
You will also find on CICC's
website a section about the major kinds of services for children with special
needs and their families (Professionals, Agencies and
Web Sites That Can Help).
Many of the agencies that are mentioned have service programs that are designed
just for children with special needs. They each have their own criteria for
accepting someone to receive their services, i.e., eligibility criteria. As you
will see as you learn about these important community groups on the
Professionals, Agencies and Websites That Can Help page, their eligibility
criteria rely on both the Functional Developmental and Clinical Diagnostic
Here you will also be able to obtain descriptions and research on
various kinds of childhood disorders (
Types of Childhood Disabilities and Other
You will also find a
Glossary of Terms that includes those
terms that professionals use in their work with children with special needs.
Knowing the meaning of these terms will help in communicating with
In addition, you can be connected to a great deal of practical
information about managing the challenging behaviors of children with special
needs (Coping with the Challenges of Having a
Child with Special Needs).
you move on to any of these very informative sections, CICC would like to
provide some additional perspective which recognizes that the matter of
determining whether children have special needs can be a source of great
concern to many parents.
As any parent knows, every child comes into a family
with an abundance of needs: to be loved and cared for, nurtured, fed, clothed
and educated, among other things. A child with
special needs is basically a
child who, because of his or her unique medical or developmental difficulties,
has needs in addition to those of his or her peers. For example, a child born
congenital heart murmur may have special medical care needs that
children without this condition won't have. A child with
will have unique educational needs that most same aged peers won't have.
Special needs may range from mild to more severe. Most special needs respond
well to treatment or special programs and services. The start of successful
treatment begins with identifying any possible needs a child may have.
parents are worried that by labeling their child with a special need, their
child will be stigmatized. They are concerned that identifying a special need
may pose a risk to the child, such as excluding the child from normal programs
and activities for children that age.
It is important to remember that all
children develop in a unique fashion. A child who is otherwise developing as
expected may have a delay or concern in one specific area. Getting assistance
in the areas of special need can lead to a child being included with, not
excluded from, regular activities.
So it is very important for practical
purposes that children who have special needs be identified as early as
possible and that they be defined as such, so that they can receive the special
help they need in order to live the best lives possible.
With this in mind,
CICC encourages you to read and learn from the following sections:
Functional Development Definition
Clinical Diagnostic Definition
Glossary of Terms
Types of Childhood Disabilities
and Other Special Needs
Coping with the Challenges of
Having a Child with Special Needs
Professionals, Agencies and
Websites That Can Help
Take the CICC Discovery Tool™