Categories of Students with Disabilities
A disability is a condition that affects individual’s normal functioning, either physically or mentally. Disability can also affect senses of a person. However, disability should not be considered as an inability or a sickness. Most children with disabilities can do work, learn, play, and enjoy their lives. Moreover, they can feel themselves well and remain in good conditions. With mobility aids and functioning assistance, children with disability can also become greater people in the society. Types of disabilities exhibited by children include ADD, Autism AND Cognitive or Intellectual disabilities. Children also exhibit emotional or behavioural disorders. Furthermore, they may also experience learning disabilities and communication disorders.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) commonly known as attention deficit disorder (ADD) appears during early childhood. ADD makes it difficult for a child to inhibit his or her spontaneous responses. It may be normal for a regular child to forget to do classroom assignment, daydream in class or act without thinking. However, such actions can also be signs of ADD.
Myths and Facts about ADD
Myth 1: All children with ADD are hyperactive.
Fact: Some kids with ADD are hyperactive. However, they are not overly active hence, tend to be unmotivated and distanced from their fellows.
Myth2: Children with ADD can never pay attention in class.
Fact: Kids with ADD often pay attention to activities that they enjoy. However, they have difficulties in maintaining focus, especially when the matter at hand is repetitive or boring.
Myth 3: Children with ADD can behave better if they want.
Fact: Children with ADD may try as much as possible to be good. However, they cannot manage to stay quiet, sit still or even pay attention. They may appear disrespectful but it does not mean that they act interdentally.
Myth 4: Children will eventually grow out of ADD.
Fact: ADD can continue into adulthood. However, treatment can help children with ADD learn how to minimise or manage their symptoms.
Myth 5: The best treatment option for ADD is medication.
Fact: Often, medication is prescribed for ADD. However, it is not the best option. Education, home, and school support, behaviour therapy, proper nutrition, and exercises are also effective treatments for ADD.
Characteristics for ADD
Virtually all individuals with ADD have challenges and portray the following traits in a non-ADD community:
- Motor activity.
- Structure problem.
Such characteristics may be expressed in adults in three ways. Often, individual suffering from ADD periodically fall into at least one of the three categories. However, they can combine three of the following forms.
Form I: Outwardly Expressed ADD- The Active Entertainer
ADD feelings are shown openly and actively. Activity and impulsivity are expressed. People with such type of ADD usually succeed in entertainment, sales, entrepreneurship or any other field that requires energy and quickness. They experience difficulty with high risk taking, long time projects, over-achievement, mood swings, temper control, putting too much blame on others, acting own way, reactivity, frustrations, disruptiveness, and maintaining relationships.
Form II: Inwardly Directed ADD- the Restless Dreamer
Under such form, people with ADD display their behaviours and feelings actively. They subtly express impulsivity and impatience. People with ADD can succeed in utilising creativity, mechanical, service-oriented, and technical jobs. However, they have difficulties with under-achievements, under-activities, over-commitments, dreaming, too much empathy, excess self-blame, depression, indecision, distractibility, task completion, ending bad relationships and failure to follow dreams.
Form III: Highly Structured ADD – The Conscientious Controller
People with ADD tend to work strictly within the structure. Change of structure makes them feel out of control. They are always demanding and anxious. Children with the given type of ADD usually succeed in accounting, military, and any other field that utilises computers. However, they have difficulty with an unstructured setting, talking, recovering from interactions, over-organization, demanding own way, negotiating, cooperation, over focusing, temper control, rigidity, being judgmental, and need to control.
Autism is a lifelong development disorder that influences on how a person communicates or relates to other individuals. It also tampers the word formation of people. Autism is a spectrum condition. The condition means that even though individuals with autism share difficulties, impacts of the situations are always expressed differently from person to person. While other people with the disorder may live independently, others have accompanying learning disabilities and hence, they require a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to taste, touch, sounds, light or colours. One of the forms of autism is asperger syndrome. People with such type of syndrome are always average or slightly above average in class work. They have few difficulties in talking. However, they experience difficulties in understanding and interpreting a spoken language.
Students with autism respond to the nature of the world as a mass of people, events, and places. They struggle to make senses about the structure of the world. Such efforts can make them anxious. In particular, they find it difficult to understand and socialize with other people in family, cultural or social life. Autism constitutes part of the autism spectrum. For this reason, it has been referred to in some cases as an ASD disorder. Individuals with autism share three main difficulties referred to as ‘triad of impairments’. They include difficulty with social communication, difficulty with social interaction, and difficulties with social imaginations.
Characteristics of Autism
It is important to note that no one can exhibit all of the characteristics of autism because each condition has its peculiarities. People with autism have to struggle with many issues in most categories. Observable characteristics include:
- Little or no eye contact.
- Distance from touch.
- Do not share experiences and observations with others.
- Difficulty in utilising group discussions.
- Making inappropriate but honest judgements.
Use of inappropriate pronunciations in communications, high vocabularies, difficulty in talking in a low tone or whispering are also characteristics of intellectual disabilities (Taylor & DeQuinzio, 2012). Others include repetitive play, verbal outbursts, and difficulty with sudden or loud sounds. People suffering from autism can become overwhelmed with numerous verbal directions and express short attention span during class lessons.
Cognitive (Intellectual) Disabilities
A person’s cognitive ability may be affected by various conditions. It is a broad concept that comprises of various cognitive deficits, such as intellectual disabilities, specific conditions and problems that may be acquired later in life due to brain injuries of neurodegenerative diseases, such as the dementia. The disability can appear at any age of a person’s life. Intellectual disabilities or mental retardation as being referred to by some people is a group of disabilities that is defined by diminishing adaptive and cognitive developments. Many intellectual disabilities are based on biological processes within the person, such as traumatic brain injury or genetic disorder. Other intellectual disabilities may be located within the brain. People with more profound intellectual disabilities often require assistance with aspects of daily living. On the other hand, people with minor learning difficulties may function adequately despite their condition. However, they may reduce their functionality if the problem is not diagnosed.
Types of Cognitive Disabilities
Dyslexia is the most common type of language-based disabilities. Primarily, it is a reading disability. It is related to generic problems and is believed to be inherited. It is a condition that makes a person experience difficulties in single word decoding and often reflects inadequate phonological processing ability. An individual suffering from dyslexia may have difficulties in different forms of reading, language, word spelling, and writing.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).
ADHD is a medication condition that tampers with a person’s ability to focus or pay attention to the event. People who are suffering from ADHD often experience troubles. Such type of autism starts in childhood and may not be diagnosed until an individual reaches the adolescent stage. People suffering from it do not complete tasks, and tend to jump from one activity to another. Their forgetting power is very high and they are poor in following instructions. People suffering from the condition fell restless and are poor in organising or arranging substances.
Brain injury can result from a number of factors, including illness, stroke, brain tumors, TBI, and meningitis. Brain injuries are unique and it is difficult to notice how a particular brain injury can impact the person’s memory. Following a brain injury, medical experts and psychologists perform a variety of tests to determine the part of the brain that is suffering. The extent of damage to a person’s brain determines how subsequent information is processing.
Such type of disorder affects people individually. They include Down syndrome, Autism, and Dementia. For instance, a person with Dawn syndrome may struggle to the point of being independent in life. However, individuals with other syndromes must be assisted.
Characteristics of Intellectual Disabilities
All intellectual impaired individuals have one thing in common and that it the disability. The physical characteristics include physical underdevelopment, physical deformation, irregular locomotion, and poor balance, as well as low weight and height compared to intellectually upright individuals. Additional features include:
- Mental features include below average I.Q.
- Underdeveloped language skills and poor memory.
- Thinking and perception.
- They also have social characteristics, such as low self-esteem.
- Aloofness and irresponsibility.
Intellectual disorders are also characterised by emotional traits, i.e., emotional imbalance, excess movements, and late or premature reactions.
Emotional/ Behavioural Disorders (EBD)
Emotional and behavioural disorders are the reasons that lead to taking children into mental health facilities. There are various types of emotional disorders. They include anxiety, dissociative, disruptive behaviour, pervasive development, and emotional disorders. EBD affects an individual’s ability to have fun, pay attention at school, and control emotions. Symptoms of EBD are, having emotions under normal situations, learning difficulties that are not caused by any other health factor, general feeling of depression, difficulty with interpersonal relationships, including relationships with peers and teachers, and feeling of anxiety and fear.
Characteristics of Emotional / Behavioural Disorders
Emotional / Behavioural Disorders are characterised by: inability to create and maintain interpersonal relationship, inability to learn. They may also be characterized by the following features:
- Sensory factors cannot explain such disability.
- Consistence sad mood.
- The tendency to develop physical symptoms.
- Unconditional fear due to personal or school problems.
Specific Learning Disabilities
Specific leading disability (SLD) is a disorder in either one or more basic psychological processes involved in using or understanding language, as well as written or spoken activities. The disability may manifest in the poor thinking ability, writing, reading, speaking, spelling or calculating mathematical expressions. It includes conditions such as brain injury, dyslexia, minimal brain dysfunctions, and development emphasis.
Characteristics of Specific Learning Disabilities
Students with learning disabilities are heterogeneous, meaning that two children cannot possess the same strengths and weaknesses. A child may have a deficit in one area, while others may experience the impairment in many areas. Over time, professionals and teachers have developed listings of characteristics of specific learning disabilities. They include:
- Academic challenge.
- Attention disability.
- Poor motor capabilities.
- Oral language disorders.
- Shortage of cognitive strategies required for efficient learning.
They may also express mathematical disorders, social deficit, reading and writing problems, and psychological process deficit.
Speech and Language Disorders
Speech and language disorders refer to challenges in communication and related areas i.e. oral motor function. The delays and disabilities start from basic sound to the real problem of using language for functional speaking. Some causes of language impairments are hearing loss, brain injury, drug abuse, mental retardation and physical challenges, such as palate or vocal problems.
A student’s language is considered delayed if he or she is behind other children in the acquisition of communication skills. Characteristics of language and speech impairments are:
- Having a difficulty with expressive and receptive vocabularies.
- Use of improper order of words in sentences.
- Absolute different language skills compared to peers of the same sex, ethnicity origin or age.
- Off-topic during class discussions and difficulty in responding to ‘wh’ questions.
- Children with language and speech impairment are also poor in word pronunciations.
- Difficulty or immature sentences constructing.
Effects of Various Medications
There are many types of medications used by students to respond to their disabilities. The most common used are strattera, aripiprazole, risperidone, acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and concerta.
Strattera, also referred to as atomoxetine, is a non-stimulant medication. It is also approved by the FDA as a drug that can be used to treat ADD. Strattera is different from other stimulants in that it boosts the norepiphrine level in the body. It also has longer medical effect than other stimulants, lasting for over 24 hours. Its long lasting effect is the main reason as to why it is considered a good option, especially with people who have difficulties in going in the morning. It is also preferred by students who are suffering from depression because it contains some antidepressant traits (Bender, 2010). However, it is not the best medicine for treating symptoms of hyperactivity. Effects of Strattera include sleepiness, mood swings, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, and headache. It can also cause appetite suppression and insomnia.
Aripiprazole is an anti-psychotic medication, commonly used by students to treat symptoms of autism. It can also be combined with other drugs and used to treat serious depressions in adults. The main action of ariiprazole is not known. However, just like other antipsychotics, it has the ability to block receptors of the brain nerves for several neurotransmitters. Most common effects of aripiprazole include drooling, difficulty with speaking, lack of body balance, shuffling walk, restlessness, and stiff limp (Rosa et al., 2015).
Risperidone is a type of medication mainly used to treat schizophridone, such as adolescent schizophrenia. It can also be used to treat the manic and mixed states of bipolar disorder, and irritability in students with autism. It can be represented in as a solution, tablet, and as an orally disintegrated tablet. It can be taken with or without food once or twice a day. It is always advisable to take it at the same interval of time. There are many effects of risperidone. The most impacts include nausea, diarrhoea, dry mouth, drowsiness, dizziness, too much saliva, heartburn, and constipation.
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitor is a type of drug that is used to prevent an acetyl-cholinesterase enzyme from braking down acetylcholine. Therefore, it increases the level and duration of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine action. As a medicine, it is used to treat glaucoma, while as an antidote it used to cure toanticholinergic poisoning. Additionally, it may be used in treating other mental disorders (Glover, 2014). Side effects of the medication are hypotension, decrease intraocular pressure, Gi tract hyper-motility, bronchoconstriction, and rapid eye movement sleep.
Concerta, also known as methylphenidate, is a stimulant for a central nervous system. It impacts chemicals in the nerves and brain that lead to hyperactive and impulse control. There are numerous effects of concerta that occur when an under-dose or overdose of it has taken place. However, there are other side effects that come irrespective of any of the cases. Some of them include lack of appetite, a sense of anxiety, sleepy problem, abdominal pain, headache, and nausea (Ashcroft et al., 2015).