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Supporting children to develop and learn whatever their needs lays at the heart of good early childhood practice. Senco and educationalist Errollyn Johnson shares her expertise on the topic of special educational needs.


“The diagnosis doesn’t make the needs of the child go away!!!” I have repeated this a thousand times to educators and parents.

The magic pill.

Many think that giving a title to a special need is like a magic pill, and now the child will be fine. NOT TRUE! The child will benefit from a plan. The plan should be created by professionals such as psychologist, therapists, and/or medical doctors, parents, and educators that are involved with the child daily. Strengths and weaknesses, goals, and strategies should be included in the plan. The purpose of the plan is to maintain the child’s strengths and strengthen the weakness. 

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Broad categories.


Special Education Needs names/ titles  vary depending on the country, but they can be generalized into the following broad categories:

  • Physical - muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, chronic asthma, and epilepsy

  • Developmental  - Down syndrome, autism, dyslexia, and processing disorders

  • Behavioral/Emotional - ADHD, bipolar disorder, or oppositional defiance disorder

  • Sensory Impaired - Such as being blind, visually impaired, deaf, or hearing-impaired

  • Speech and Language - Language Delay. 



Nurseries are one of the most important, yet are often underrated in value in the education system. A child’s foundation skills are created in nursery. Educators in nurseries must be able to identify and provide intervention and support strategies if a child is not developing appropriately. This means that educators understand pedagogy and child development stages. It is the role of psychologist and/or family doctors to determine/ identify if a child has a special need. In the event a nursery educator suspects a child has a special need, they should document and pay attention to behaviors that appear to be abnormal such as:  high pain tolerance, sensitive to noise, sensitive to touch, sensitive to change, fixations, and constant isolation. It is important to know that it is not appropriate for a nursery to try and diagnose a child with Specific Learning Need  


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  • Students with special needs children look a certain way.

  • Students with special needs will grow out of it.

  • Special needs students should not be with the general population.

  • Special needs students cannot learn.

  • Special needs students have low intellect.

  • Medication will cure the special needs.


Plan or strategy.

There is not one plan or strategy will work for all children. Some strategies will show results faster than others. In my experience, a strategy must be applied consistently 4-6 weeks before it is thrown out, revised, or replaced with a different strategy. Sometimes, depending on the child, it may appear that the child is getting worse; in most cases continue to apply for 4-6 weeks.


All children need love, encouragement, and support, and for kids with disabilities, such positive reinforcement can help ensure that they emerge with a strong sense of self-worth, confidence, and the determination to keep going even when things are tough.


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