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For this course you will submit journal responses to questions and topics posed from the text. You should respond in your own words, from your notes, and from other/outside resources. Try to connect your responses to the chapter readings. Please do not copy your responses from the text. Responding in your own words encourages thought, reflection and retention.
Your journal entries should be at least two pages in length if double-spaced OR one page in length if single-spaced. These submissions will be worth 20 points each.
Journal 4: Families of Children with Special Needs
In Chapter 11 the main focus is meeting the needs of families of children with disabilities. You will write your journal entry using the Family Specific Language writing prompt below to address working with families of children with special needs.
Complete the following written reflection
Using Family-Specific Language
Caring for children with special needs, disabilities, and exceptionalities is a wonderful opportunity to embrace diverse families in your community. You may hear different language or terms from families when they describe their child’s condition or ability level. Some families will use “special needs” or “disability.” Others will use specific terms such as, “He has Down syndrome” or “My child is deaf.”
Depending on how recently a family has learned about their child’s needs and how they are coping, some families will avoid speaking about it at all even if they previously shared information with you. It’s important to take your cues from each individual family. Some families will be eager to share updates and suggestions they learn from doctors or specialists. If a family describes a recommendation to you as, “helpful for children with Down syndrome,” it is acceptable to mirror this same language as long as you are comfortable doing so.
It is best practice to use person-first language. For example, “children with autism” is preferred over “autistic children.” Even though it is most important to think of children first as individuals (and not to define them by their conditions or traits), there may be times when you need to ask families questions about caring for their child. It can be difficult to avoid using medical terms and jargon during these conversations, and you may need to directly address their child’s condition or ability level. If you are unsure of what to say, ask the family how they prefer you speak about their child’s needs or condition. This shows the family that their input is valued, and it builds trust in your partnership with them.
Case Scenario:
Mia is a child in your program’s preschool classroom. You have made many attempts to share about Mia’s learning, but Mia’s family members rarely ask questions or talk about their lives. Although Mia’s parents have never directly spoken to any program staff about it, you know from the enrollment paperwork the family completed that Mia has a diagnosis of cerebral palsy. Since enrolling in the program two months ago, you have observed Mia to be a happy child who can do everything her peers can do, but is a bit slower than most children in the class. You and other staff members have recently noticed that it is becoming increasingly difficult to help Mia put shoes on, and Mia has begun to trip and fall more frequently. You are not sure if this is “normal” or to be expected for a child with cerebral palsy. You are concerned for Mia’s safety and feel it is necessary to talk with the family.
1. How will you initiate this conversation with Mia’s family? Think about how to be sensitive to the fact that they have not chosen to speak about Mia’s condition with you.
2. Explain what challenges families such as Mia’s might face in terms of family involvement in schooling.
3. Explain whether family involvement is more or less important to children with special needs in their schooling process.
4. Include any of your thoughts or reflections on supporting these children and families. if you have personal experience with this topic, whether yourself, a family member, or a friend, feel free to include it in your reflection. But only if you feel comfortable doing so.