For this assignment, I was required to plan and implement over a period of 6 weeks, two developmentally appropriate activities for children with additional needs. I have also included a detailed definition of special needs and a history of special needs provision in Ireland.
A Definition of Special Needs and Special Needs Education
Children with special needs have all the needs of regular children, such as safety and security love, praise and encouragement along with some additional needs. These special needs can be caused by numerous conditions which can be physical, intellectual or emotional. Some examples of special needs conditions are; physical disability such as epilepsy, asthma, cystic fibrosis, hearing or visual impairment, mild to severe general learning disability, specific learning disability such as dyscalculia, ADHD, Down’s syndrome, autism spectrum disorders and emotional disturbance.
Newcomer children whose first language is not English may also be regarded as having special needs.
Special needs education refers to the special educational arrangements which are in place for children with special needs. These special educational provisions are provided to any child if their ability to participate in and benefit from education is restricted due to an ongoing physical, intellectual, sensory, emotional or learning disability.
A Brief History of Special Needs Provision in Ireland
The Irish Department of Education was established in 1924. For much of its history the department considered that the education of children with special needs alongside their non-disabled peers was not appropriate as their needs were considered medical and not educational.
In the 1980’s there was a worldwide push for integration of disabled children into mainstream schools. Soon after classes for children with special needs began to be established and more teachers were educated to cater for this demand.
By 1993 over 2 thousand children were being educated in such classes
In 1993, the report of the Special Education Review Committee (SERC) recommended the following:
• Established of a continuum of educational provision to meet special education needs, that would allow
• Full- Time placement in a mainstream class with additional support
• Part-Time or Full-time Placement in a special class or school
• Full-time placement in a residential special school
• Part-Time placement in a Child Education and Development Centre(CEDC) or special school
In 1995, a government white paper on education called “Charting our Education Future” Stated the following, “all students regardless of their personal circumstances have a right of access to and participation in the education system according to their potential and ability” and “to promote quality and equality for all, including those who are disadvantaged through economic, social physical and mental factors in the development of their full educational potential”.
Several acts of parliament resulted in legislation which further added to the rights of special needs children in Ireland, including: The Equal Status Act 2000, The Children’s Act 2001, The Equality Act 2004 and The Disability Act 2005.
The EPSEN Act 2004 is the legislation which provides for the provision of education plans for students with special educational needs (SEN). Under the Act, children with SEN will be educated “in an inclusive environment with children who do not have SEN”, unless this should be inconsistent either with the best interest of the child, or with the effective provision for the other children.
This provides the statutory requirements for educational planning as they impact upon students, parents, schools, and the National Council for Special Education (the Council)
Under the EPSEN Act 2004, all children with SEN should be provided with an IEP, and this individualised programme should be delivered in an ‘inclusive environment’ with students who do not have SEN whenever possible.
The EPSEN Act ensured that the needs of special needs children are comprehensively provided for in the educational environment.
Two activities planned and implemented
The first activity I planned was a game which can be described as standing in a circle and throwing a ball or balls, it is intended to aid focus, hand-eye coordination, relaxation and fun. It would be ideal for younger children or children with ADHD.
First the children and SNA’s organise into a circle so that everyone can see each other and make strong eye contact.
The person who is currently holding the ball looks for someone in the circle who is making good eye contact and gently throws them the ball, the person who catches the ball then continues the game by doing the same, looking for someone who is making good eye contact and gently throwing them the ball. The goal is to complete at least 10 repetitions without dropping the ball while ensuring that everyone in the circle gets an adequate number of goes.
It should be emphasised that the ball should be tossed gently for health and safety reasons, especially to younger children and children with sub-optimal motor skills.
This activity should also be done in silence or near silence, so that the focus is on eye contact and giving undivided attention to the person with whom you are interacting. The silence also makes the game more relaxing.
The game can be made easier by everybody taking one step forward so that
There is less distance for the ball to travel, making it easier to catch or the game can be made more difficult by taking a step backwards leaving the ball with farther to travel.
The game can also be made more difficult by the introduction of a second ball, the first ball could be tossed around by the children while the second ball tossed by the adults, this would require a greater level of focus and concentration while also creating a need for a higher level of timing as there are two balls moving around at the same time.
This game also improves the hand-eye coordination of the children playing