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Life Long Learning
This paper is about developmental disabilities and how they tend to affect lifelong learning of the affected persons. Developmental disabilities refer to a collection of severe chronic conditions that can result in either physical or mental impairments.
These conditions would normally occur to people before the age of 22. As it would be observed, the conditions are life-long and can seriously interfere with the normal lives of the affected persons in diverse ways. Even though there is no permanent cure for developmental disability, there is a variety of significant programs and interventions that can be helpful to persons with the condition.
Causes and diagnosis
The causes of developmental disability are not well known, but doctors and researchers have often associated the condition with genetic abnormalities, viral infections, fetal exposure to harmful substances, and preterm birth, among other factors.
Diagnosis of developmental disability is performed using a variety of approaches which include systematic observation of the child’s behavior in different settings to note any changes in their practice patterns, direct assessment using modern instruments, medical screening or examination, and comprehensive evaluation of the child’s medical history, among other things.
As Lovaas (2003) observes, early intervention can be very helpful to children suffering from developmental disability in several ways. For example, this helps to prepare the children for important engagements in life, such as education. The main focus of these interventions is to assist eligible children in becoming familiar with the basic skills that tend to develop during the early years of life.
Early intervention for developmental disability will mainly focus on several general priorities that play a key role in helping the children with this condition meet important milestones in life. In this regard, these interventions are based on physical development, communication skills, self-help and independence skills, cognitive development, and social development.
Physical development includes things such as crawling, reaching out for items, and walking. Communication development would entail talking and listening. When it comes to self-help, children would learn how to feed and dress themselves. Cognitive development involves thinking and the use of problem-solving skills. Finally, there is social and emotional development, which involves play and other forms of social interaction.
There is a variety of sophisticated educational programs for children with developmental disabilities. For example, there is the CLASS program which provides intensive instruction to students with a developmental disability. CLASS is a short form for Communication, Language, Academic, and Social Skills. The program employs several engaging features that assist in promoting independence, social learning, language development, and other important aspects.
This particular program is fit for learners of ages 5 to 22. Another useful educational program for children with developmental disabilities is the Pines Bridge, which is suitable for learners with multiple disabilities. The program offers different learning environments that help students meet their physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs.
The biggest advantage of this program is that it offers learning challenges that can enable learners to achieve maximum potential at school. Sensory Motor Language (SML) can also be a useful program for students with developmental disabilities. Through this program, learners can easily combine motor activities with language experiences in a manner that can help them plan and organize their matters better.
Services for Young Learners
There are many intervention services that are intended to help children with developmental disabilities to meet their individual needs. Some of the common services here would include audiology or hearing services, assistive technology, relevant medical services, counseling and training, nursing services, psychological services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nutritional services.
To ensure that effective outcomes are realized on the targeted children, these services are offered based on their needs and the priorities of their families. This way, the services will play a crucial role in enhancing the children’s development in the areas they are weak.
Transitional programs help to prepare learners to move from one development stage to another. The transition from the early stages of life to preschool services usually poses numerous challenges to learners with developmental disabilities and the people around them. There are various transitional programs that are aimed at helping children with special needs to become part of their communities.
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To fully understand their lessons and be able to achieve their learning goals, exceptional children will need individualized programs of special education and other relevant services (Noonan & McCormick, 2006). The planning and designing of transitional programs is a complex task which involves child development professionals, families of the disabled children, and the service providers.
These are the people who spend much time with the children, and in that case, they can understand them better than anybody else. Some of the common transitional programs for children with developmental disabilities would include things such as books, learning manuals, and software programs intended to assist the children in adjusting to the new programs or settings.
Following is a summary of some common transitional programs or projects for children with developmental disabilities. The first program here is Project Ta-kos, which offers special lessons to service providers and families of learners of up to eight years of age. There is also the Bridging Early Services Transition (BEST) whose main role is to help with coordination of transition for learners between ages 2 and 5.
There is also TEEM, which stands for Transition into the Elementary Education Mainstream. This program plays a key role in promoting the successful transition of learners with special needs from early childhood to kindergarten programs.
Finally, there is the Community Outreach Program (COP), which is meant for learners of ages 17 to 21. The program emphasizes skills in different sectors of life, thus preparing the students for the transition into adulthood through physical, speech, and occupational therapies.
Strengths and Weaknesses in the Assessments and Interventions
The assessments used in early childhood special education are very important since they assist early development specialists in determining the type of intervention that should be given to children with special needs (LeAger & Shapiro, 1995). These assessments and interventions would tend to have both strengths and weaknesses when it comes to real-world situations.
For instance, the assessment helps child development professionals design a curriculum that addresses particular aspects appropriately. However, the main weakness here is that the assessments are unable to pinpoint specific educational needs that would fully benefit the children.
Another notable importance of early assessment is that it helps in the identification of at-risk children, and this ensures that they attain maximum benefits for their academic careers. However, through this approach, children who have been identified with developmental disabilities are likely to miss important enrichment services.
Suggestions for Improvements
To ensure that children with developmental disabilities fully benefit from early interventions, child development professionals should try to come up with effective assessment programs that will address specific aspects more appropriately. For instance, it will be necessary for them to develop programs which can pinpoint specific learning needs that will be of great importance to the children.
Moreover, child development professionals should keenly assess various options available for at-risk children to identify the ones that are more suitable to them. This kind of intervention will enable children with developmental disabilities to gain the best programs and services which they need to be able to cope with their disabilities.
LeAger, C., & Shapiro, E. (1995). Template matching as a strategy for assessment of and intervention for preschool students with disabilities. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 15(2), 187-218.
Lovaas, O. (2003). Teaching Individuals with Developmental Delays: Basic Intervention Techniques. Austin, TX: PRO-ED, Inc.
Noonan, M., & McCormick, L. (2006). Young Children with Disabilities in Natural Environments: Methods and Procedures. Baltimore: Brookes Publishing Company.