How to explain "special needs" to a preschooler? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 03-27-2003, 06:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have a friend whose ds has serious behavioral issues and who goes to a special preschool and also receives services at home. He is four and a half. Dd, who is the same age, rarely plays with him because they are opposite schedules school-wise, but occasionally they will see each other. Dd gets very upset and frustrated by his behavior, as he does not know how to play with other children and winds up making a pest of himself, arguing, bossing, yelling, trying to get her in trouble, etc. I do not set up playdates between the two of them ,but on occasion they will be together (at a party or something) and she has begun to express how much she doesn't like him.

Yesterday she spent all of twenty minutes with him (my friend was babysitting for my daughter while her son was in school, but he came home when I came to pick her up). The whole drive home, she was telling me how she didn't like him, and how she wished that he hadn't come home from school until after she had left! very articulate for a four-year old, I know!

Anyway, I tried to explain that, just as she can draw better than some of her friends and some of her friends can do the fire fighter pole better than her, this child is still learning how to play with other children and he is not that good at it yet. I agreed that it isn't much fun for her to play with him and told her that we would not have playdates with him, but that we might see him sometimes and explained things she could do if he was upsetting her (using her words, asking me or another adult for help, etc.). I'm wondering if I handled this all right? Has anyone ever had to explain anything similar to a child of this age?
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#2 of 11 Old 03-27-2003, 07:06 PM
 
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I think you did a good job of addressing the issue. I am on both sides of this issue- my 7 year old has special needs, but ironically enough he and my three year old dd have noticed the differences in their friends brother, who has Autism. We talked in very simplistic terms of what that means, (I told them that he doesn't really understand what is said to him, and can't talk as well as they can- this isn't the case with all children who have Autism, but these are the problems with this particular boy that they had noticed) and what they can do if they have problems with him. There are actually quite a few books for young children about special needs- maybe your librarian could help you find some?
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#3 of 11 Old 03-27-2003, 07:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, I'll do that! I practically live at the library, and so far the only books for children about special needs that i have seen deal with the more "visible" special needs, such as Down Syndrome or physical disabilities. If anyone knows of any books about "invisible" special needs written for children, I'd appreciate the titles!
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#4 of 11 Old 03-27-2003, 09:58 PM
 
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I do not know of any books but the fantastic public school (yes they exsist) that my DD's attend has many children with special needs who attend an ELS (educational and life skills) program and are mainstreamed into the regualar classes when they can be. In Kindergarten all the children attend a program where they explain that some children who attend the school have parts of their bodies or minds that don't work the same way as it does for other children, and that they may scream, shout or play roughly, but that they are not able to help it.

As a result of being at a school like this my DD's are way more comfortable around all types of people. We were recently in a public restroom and there was a child who has major disabilites and was screaming and flailing about. A friend's DD was scared and wanted to leave. My 5 year old just looked at her and said "Oh don't worry, that boy just has some problems that he can't help."

Explain to your DD that this child is not able to controll his behavior and try to spend some more time around him so that she is less surprised by his conduct.
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#5 of 11 Old 03-28-2003, 01:47 AM
 
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Funny, LunaMom, when I was reading the beginning of your post, I decided what advice I might offer you...and it was exactly what you had told your daughter!! Must be the teacher in each of us!
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#6 of 11 Old 03-28-2003, 02:56 AM
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#7 of 11 Old 03-28-2003, 10:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks!
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#8 of 11 Old 03-28-2003, 12:34 PM
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I explained roughly the same thing to Maeve.....that the other child's mind had not grown up as fast as her body did, and that inside she was still young, like a baby who yells because they don't know how to ask for things. This worked for her, because she sees young things as something to be cared for, and helped, and not made fun of.

It motivated her to be much more patient. She was 6 at the time.
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#9 of 11 Old 03-28-2003, 05:58 PM
 
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I worry about the "s/he can't help it" when it is behavioral, b/c I fear for the child w/ the behavior issues overhearing and believing that "I can't help/control it". ( I have a 10 y.o. foster son w/ beh. probs so that is where my fear comes from)

I would suggest more along the lines of
"He is still learning/working on controling his behavior/yelling/hitting/whatever. He is really good at running fast/building with blocks.
You are really good at controling your yelling, but are still working on how to pour milk/tie shoes/whatever. Everybody is working on different things.

HTH
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#10 of 11 Old 03-29-2003, 12:58 AM
 
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Well the issues at my childrens' school are not behavior issues but overwelming neurological disabilities. My children will be with these kids for the next eight years and the "still learning" would ring false to them.
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#11 of 11 Old 03-29-2003, 12:40 PM
 
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alexa07 -- of course. i hope i didn't come across as snooty. i am probably a little sensitive b/c of my own situation w/ my f.s. Yeah, if the disability is not going to change over time, you wouldn't want to imply that it will.
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