Six categories of learners with special needs
- Sensory Impairment
- Cognitive Differences
- Communication Difficulties
- Emotional and Behavioral Difficulties
- Physical and Multiple Difficulties
- Those living under Especially difficult circumstances
1. Sensory Impairment
A) Learners with hearing impairment
- these are learners who have difficulties with the sense of hearing
- they are a level below that person considered to have normal hearing
- functionally, they are two types. Namely:
- i) Hard of hearing
- ii) Deaf
- these learners have a useful hearing left (residue hearing)
- they can follow speech and acquire spoken language with or without hearing aid when the volume is raised, when placed near the speaker, quiet surrounding is ensured, looking at the speaker's face or wearing suitable hearing aids
- This learner cannot hear or understand speech
- Hearing aids can only assist them to be aware of environmental sounds such as moving vehicles and booming sounds.
Categories of hearing loss according to Severity
- Learners with SLIGHT hearing loss: these learners can follow a normal conversation if there is no noise in the room. In a classroom situation, they should sit at the front or near the speakers.
- Learners with MILD hearing loss: these learners can understand a conversation at a distance of about one meter and are able to follow conversation if the room is very quiet. In a classroom situation, these learners should face the speaker or use an individual hearing aid.
- Learners with MODERATE hearing loss: these learners have difficulties hearing in all situations. They can follow a loud conversation though. In a classroom situation, they should use hearing aid and to some extent speech training
- Learners with SEVERE hearing loss: They hear loud voices about 30 cm from the ear. They are able to identify environmental sounds. Learners in this category need hearing aids instruction in total communication
- Learners with PROFOUND hearing loss: Learners in this category may hear some loud sounds and are aware of vibrations more than tonal pattern. They rely on vision rather than hearing as the primary venue of communication. These learners need hearing aids and sign language.
Classification according to age onset
- Prelingual Deafness: refers to deafness present at birth or occurring before the learner develop speech or language
- Post-Lingual Deafness: Deafness occurs after the learner has developed speech or language
Classification according to the part of the ear affected
- Conductive hearing loss: the damage or infection is either in the outer or middle parts of the ear resulting to mild or moderate hearing loss. Learners in this category can hear and understand spoken language with the help of suitable hearing aids.
- Sensori-Neural Hearing Loss: Damage is in the inner ear resulting into severe profound hearing loss. Residue hearing left. Learners in this category do not acquire and use spoken language. They are however aware of environmental sounds and can use hearing aids.
- Mixed hearing loss: refers to the combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing losses. Meaning that both the middle and the inner ear are affected at the same time.
Characteristics of Learners with hearing impairment
- They normally don't acquire spoken language
- They have speech flow difficulties i.e. speech lacks the normal rhythm, stress and intonation
- Their voices are either too high or too low pitched since they cannot hear themselves in order to adjust their voices
- Have limited social relationship because of communication difficulties which may in turn make them to develop feelings of isolation and rejection
- Have frequent substitution, distortion and omissions of sounds of speech e.g. they may say 'ood ign' instead of 'good night'
- Confuse certain consonants like 'p' and 'b', 't' and 'd'
- Have slow labored speech
- Mainly use gestures or signs to make themselves be understood
- Ask for repetition of what has been said
- May have frequent ear infections
- Experience difficulties in group discussions especially if the surrounding is noisy
- Misunderstand others since they cannot understand all that is said to them
- Speak loudly or softly since they are not able to monitor their voices
- Avoid participating in oral activities
- Ca their ears in the direction of sounds
- Stare at speaker's face so as to lip read what is being said
- Appear confused or not responding to instructions
Educational Implications faced by Learners with hearing Impairment
- Are not able to hear well in a noisy classroom environment
- Have poor verbal communication between teacher, peers, parents and siblings
- Inability to follow school routine as guided by the school bell
- Social isolation and lack of acceptance due to lack of communication leading to limitations in acquiring knowledge and skills
Effects of hearing impairment of learners
- Speech development. Have defective speech. Learners leave out some speech sounds especially those that are high pitched consonant sounds such as 's', 'sh', 't', 'k'.
- Language development. Children who can hear, develop language naturally through listening to people speak and respond to them.
- Social development. Learners with hearing impairment have difficulties being accepted in the communities. It is important to be encouraged to fit in the through taking part in all community activities, accept the hearing community and understand that they can count on others for help.
Intervention strategies for hearing impairment
- Advice on appropriate school program placement (regular, special, special class or inclusive)
- Advice parents to seek medical help
- Encourage the child to observe ear hygiene
- Encourage family, school and social community to learn communication techniques used by the child. Counsel the school community to accept the child as she/he is
- Use of total communication in the class environment should be encouraged
- The child should be given preferential seating in class
- Parent should be advised on fitting of suitable and effective hearing aid if required by a specialist
Incidence and Prevalence of learners with Hearing Impairments
B) Learners with visual impairment
Learners in this category have total loss of the sense of vision and are not able to tell darkness and light
ii) Learners with low vision
These are learners who have significant visual handicap as well as significant vision that can be used. Learners in this category can use their vision for school learning activities under varying conditions, depending on the amount of light, contrast and individual differences
Characteristics of learners with Visual Impairments
- Complain of not seeing well
- Significant difficulties reading and coping from the blackboard
- Tilt their heads to one side while reading or writing
- Hold books close or far from their eyes
- Complain of too much or little light in the classroom
- Regularly make quick eye movements from side to side
- Have difficulties in grasping objects directly in front of them
- Complain of double vision
- Eyes are watery or reddish and painful
- May omit some letters while reading or writing
- Use their index finger to point what they are reading
- Eyes do not fixate
- Have clumsy movement and poor balance when walking
- Move their heads instead of eyes while reading
Educational Implication for Learners with visual Impairments
- Reading and copying from the chalkboard and therefore may lag behind others in academic activities
- Reading books written in ordinary print
- Finding their way within the class and school
- Identify objects, posters and other learning materials within the class
- Learning concepts that have to be perceived through sight such as color and sky
Effects of visual impairment on learners
- Self Concept: Learners with visual impairments have difficulties establishing personal identity (self concept). This is due to their poorly defined role within a sighted world. Psychological development of learners is affected since one becomes disadvantaged compared to the sighted learners.
- Isolation and Withdrawal: Persons with visual impairment may have feelings of isolation and attachment from the environment. This becomes difficult for them to choose to choose companions to whom they can hold conversations. This means that they need to be spoken to first and be engaged into a conversation.
Inadequate social role models: Social behaviours and attitudes are learned through observation and imitation. Learners with visual impairments find it difficult to emulate role models in daily life due to limited varied observations and restricted opportunity to participate in social activities. They therefore turn to self stimulations as a means of passing time by developing mannerisms such as:
- Poor body posture
- Clumsy movements
- Rocking body back and forth
- Turning their heads rapidly from side to side
- Clapping their hands at inappropriate time
- Poking of their eyes
- Cognitive Development: Learners who are blind from early age may not be able to understand concepts in abstract such as color, size of huge objects like mountains, storey buildings, cargo ships e.t.c
- Sensory Stimulation: Learners who are visually impaired lack one major source of sensory input and and their way of receiving and processing information are deficient. Sensory development will improve concept formation. Storytelling, listening to environmental sounds and identifying the sources of the sounds, listening to taped sound and identifying the speakers, can be used for sensory stimulation.
- Concept Formation: Learners with visual impairments have specific difficulties in concept formation. Educators need to put more emphasis on concrete experiences in order to help the learners to form concepts that are meaningful to them. Teachers should therefore use real objects or their models.
- Physical Development: Growth and development of learners with visual impairments may slower due to environmental deprivation.
Intervention Strategies for Learners with Visual Impairments
a) Medication Intervention
Most eye diseases and defects can be prevented or treated. Learners should therefore be referred to hospitals that have eye units to undertake:
- Cataracts extraction
- Trachoma and other eye treatment
- provision of eyeglasses to improve vision
Trachoma is an infection of the eyes that may result in blindness after repeated re-infections. It is the world's leading cause of preventable blindness and occurs where people live in overcrowded conditions with limited access to water and health care. Trachoma spreads easily from person to person and is frequently passed from child to child to mother within the family. Infection usually first occurs in childhood but people do not become blind until adulthood. The disease progresses over years as repeated infections cause scarring on the inside of the eyelid, earning it the name of the "quiet disease" the eyelashes eventually turn in. This causes rubbing of the cornea at the front of the eye. The cornea becomes scarred leading to severe vision loss and eventually blindness.
Cataract is a condition in which the lens inside the eye loses transparency and turn milky, cloudy or opaque.
b) Educational Intervention
i) Learners with low vision;
- Move the child near the blackboard or in a position that will allow him to participate actively in class in all activities
- Provide large print materials
- Advice the parents to take the child to a specialist for advice and to provide optical and low vision devices.
- Assign learners who are sighted to act as guides to the child.
- Arrange the classroom in such a way that there is enough lighting in the room.
- Train them in orientation and mobility
- Train them in typing, writing and reading Braille
- Train them in activities of daily living skills
- Provide tactile diagrams
- Train them on auditory/listening skills
- Currently, there is no up to date statistics on the total population of learners who have visual impairments in Kenya. It is however estimated that about 1% of the total population of about 28.5 million had visual impairment (1999 National Population Census)
- Show positive attitude
- Encourage learner to use residue hearing
- Have personal contact with the learner
- Hearing aids/ optical devices should be provided
About 15 out of 100,000 (0.015) of school age going children have deaf blindness. East African Medical Journal, Vol.83, no4 (2006)
Catherine Kiprop, Dr., Emily Bomett, Dr., John Kipruto, Dr., and Jane Jelimo Michael. INSTITUTIONALIZING GUIDANCE AND COUNSELLING-A PANACEA FOR MANAGING STUDENT DISCIPLINE IN KENYAN SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN THE POST-CANING ERA. 1st ed. Vol. 3. Eldoret: European Centre for Research Training and Development UK (www.eajournals.org), 2015. British Journal of Education. Eajournals.org. Web. 12 Jan. 2017. ISSN 2054-6351(Print);ISSN 2054-636X(Online)