2 Simple Ways To Create… A Positive Learning Environment For Your Special Needs Child
When you are considering all the best options for your special needs child with their growth and development, it can be easy to over look the obvious. While you are exploring school and daycare programs, therapists and new types of treatments, which are important and necessary, you forget to consider your immediate surroundings. Some of the best learning tools and opportunities for your child to utilize are already at your fingertips. They are in your own home, the playground in your neighbourhood, with your family, friends and even yourself. You don’t have to go looking too far to offer your child the very best in guiding their development.
When my son, Cobi, was a toddler, I practically lived at the hospitals and therapy centers. Every single week, we were in therapy, at a specialist appointment and getting another assessment of some kind. We were surrounded by professionals giving us advise, skills and tools to help my son learn and grow. It was all very reassuring and supportive. I honestly don’t know where my son would be today if I hadn’t of had those opportunities to keep learning about my son’s disability. But it wasn’t initially like this.
At first, I didn’t have the guided hand of these professionals. We were still in the discovery stages of Cobi’s special needs. I was lost, blind and confused. I was scared because I know my son wasn’t achieving his milestones at the appropriate times and he wasn’t as responsive to his environment as his daycare peers. Yet, he was sensitive to stimuli causing outbursts and stress. However, I was fortunate to have had a woman come into my home early on to assess my son, so that the daycare could understand better how to care for my son.
She was a developmental counselor, the director of the agency who monitors and provides special services and workers to children of special needs, in daycare settings and schools. I remember the very first visit with her, over 17 years ago, I will never forget it. She came into my home, met Cobi and I for the first time, and took a quick look around my home to get a feel for the environment I was raising my son in. It was a little intimidating, at first, but she soon eased my mind about her intentions with the assessment.
As she proceeded with the assessment process, asking questions and interacting with Cobi, she took a moment to express her thoughts about my abilities as parent. She was impressed. I was like, Wow! My house was decorated with light colours, with a bright atmosphere. I love the sunlight filling a room. So I didn’t have any dark or heavy colours, dark curtains or dull lighting. It was bright, cheery and inviting. The counselor expressed how pleased she was that I was providing such an enlightening atmosphere for my son. She complemented me on the arrangement and set up of my sons play area (the living room, actually, was his entire space, the playroom), and how accessible everything was for him.
But honestly, what stuck with me most of all was the counselors comment about all of the pictures of family and friends I had framed and displayed around the room. I love photos and frames, I plaster my house with our loved ones (even our kitty cat). She told me that having these photos in my sons range of view was The Best learning tool I could offer my son. She told me that Cobi was learning more from those photos than anything else in his playroom. Facial expression, identification, correlation and even social interaction are key elements of learning through those photographs. I had no idea. I just really like photos. I am a picture frame junky, seriously. Who would have thought that my love for photo frames would lead to an amazing learning experience for my son.
My son was learning emotion and connecting facial expression to those emotions, helping him understand social dynamics. He was learning identification of loved ones, seeing them in the photos, then recognizing them in real life. And correlating family members in relation to each other, himself and me. Wow! I never would have thought that a photograph could do so much in the development of my child. From that moment on, any insecurity or uncertainty I had about raising my son, and if I was doing the right things for him left my thoughts. I started to feel confident in myself as a mother.
Simply, through those photos, and making my living space work well for my son in his play area, I was providing the best possible learning environment for my son. Everything was accessible for my son, bright and inviting, colourful and cheery. Take a look around your home, is it set up in such a way as to invite a positive learning atmosphere for your child? If not, it certainly isn’t difficult to make a few changes.
More About Organizing Your Home To Suit Your Special Needs Child, visit: