Teaching children with special needs is a bit more challenging compared to children in a regular school. It requires double of everything because of their capabilities when it comes to communication. But when teachers find the right approach to getting into their fragile minds and emotions, the flow of the therapy is more efficient. Children dealing with mental health conditions will be able to express themselves and be more productive.
Teachers use music and art as tools for addressing the needs of children with mental health issues such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, and mood disorders. These are among the typical conditions of children with special needs receiving special education. According to Abigail Saneholtz, Psy.D “Listening to music is a helpful way to cope with and process emotions. It can evoke a connection to what individuals feel at different moments in their lives.”
Teaching Music With Tender Loving Care
- Finding out the music preference of your student with special needs is a great start. Make him hear a variety of music and pay attention to what makes him open up more. You will notice him tap his fingers or nod his head up and down following every beat of the song. Once you know what he likes the most, play it every time, so he will be familiar with it and making him comfortable in class. If you have many students, do this with every one of them, and you can play each song after another. They may all end up liking each song.
- Introduce as much musical instrument as you can. Start with the guitar, piano, violin, ukulele, and harp. Try each of these instruments to bring out their hidden potential in music. Remember that music makes them express their suppressed feelings and emotions. It is easier to connect with students with special needs when teachers can determine their interests. As Daniel J. Levitin, PhD expresses, “While music has long been recognized as an effective form of therapy to provide an outlet for emotions, the notion of using song, sound frequencies and rhythm to treat physical ailments is a relatively new domain.”
Teaching Art With Tender Loving Care
- Teach art to students with special needs by implementing fun activities. Don’t just provide them with papers and coloring materials. Stir their imagination by telling stories, playing background music, letting them watch a movie and instructing them to draw what they felt after the activity.
- If allowed, take them to a relaxing place – the zoo or anywhere where they can be in contact with nature or all the amazing things they would only see in books. Make them draw what they like best and express their feelings through colors. “There are various uses for art therapy with regards to healing, but the benefits may surprise you if you’ve never heard of art as a form of therapy.” Douglas Mitchell, LMFT said.
Teaching kids with special needs require extra patience, love, and care. Teachers should have a continuous desire to come up with new exciting activities for her students. This way, they will not get bored or lose interest in going to school.
Teachers are like mothers who are the source of love and care when the kids are in school, and it is a big difference when they have a genuine concern for all the children entrusted to them.
We often think of “with special needs” as a limitation, but just like everybody else, children with mental health conditions need an extra bit of time. They need a little bit of extra from people who they look up and look for when they need a special kind of loving.