INTRODUCTION TO SEN
Special needs education means the special educational arrangements which are in place for people with disabilities. All children – including children with disabilities and children with special needs – have a constitutional right to free primary education.
Being a special education advocate in Kenyan school means adopting certain mindset. This mindset is one of absolutely leveling the playing field for every child in your class, no matter whether their disability is physical, cognitive or emotional.
INVISIBILITY OF LEARNING DISABILITIES
People with learning disabilities in reading, math, writing, and auditory processing are sometimes said to have invisible disabilities. An invisible disability is simply one that cannot be seen. People with learning disabilities:
Look like everyone else;
Have no physical disorders requiring visible supports such as walkers, wheelchairs, or other aids;
Have no differences in appearance; and
Have ability to walk, run, and participate in sports in same ways their peers do.
Why Are Invisible Disabilities a Problem?
People with invisible disabilities may have additional problems because:
The impact of their disabilities are not easily seen.
People may perceive them as lazy, when in fact, their disabilities impact their ability to learn, work, and function in life.
Others may see the invisibly disabled as having behavior problems or being uncooperative instead of having a disability.
People may believe they are malingering or faking having a disability.
Others may have rigid, inflexible expectations for them because of inability to understand the level of disability.
Are There Advantages of Invisible Disabilities?
Some people with learning disabilities appreciate the ability to “blend in with the crowd” so their disabilities are hidden. They enjoy the fact that in non-academic activities such as sports, community activities, church groups, and volunteer activities, they can participate as effectively, and sometimes more effectively, than others.
What Can You Do to Support Someone with Invisible Disabilities?
Listen to the person with a disability, and follow her lead in relating to her.
Recognize that some people with invisible disabilities prefer not to discuss their disability and would be mortified if you tried to talk with them about it. Again, follow their lead.
If the person needs help, ask if and how you can assist.
Learn about their specific type of learning disability.
If you are a parent or teacher, know what the child’s skill levels are. Try to keep work demands at and just above his current skill level. This will keep the child challenged without reaching the frustrating, shut-down stage. This will also help you realistically evaluate the child’s effort.