In our society, human beings are driven to accomplish goals and succeed at any task, whether it is related to the work force, the family, or self-improvement. It is reasonable to assume that the primary motivation for all humans that engage in tremendous efforts to attain these goals is to experience a sense of self-fulfilment, of reaching happiness. As people, our affective states change as a response to the gains and losses we experience during the course of our life, and our interpretation of these gains and losses will vary depending on an individual’s personality and genetic makeup. For children with special needs, there is often a disruption in their ability to perceive a task as a success or failure, and this misinterpretation can often lead to expressions of frustration, stress, or inability to interact appropriately with other social beings. This can explain why you may have observed a child with special needs respond with anger or fear, frustration or anxiety when in a novel situation. Their ability to interpret the situation or event as positive or negative will determine their future actions. To cope, it is important that individuals involved within the life of a child with special needs recognize that these children are aware of the social cues and the communications occurring in any given environment, but that a disruption can occur in their interpretation of the event. Like any behaviour, a response is the result of the interpretation of a sensory input, whether it be the context of a social conversation or the observed interactions between children playing at a playground.
A recognized difficulty for children with autism is verbal or non-verbal disturbed communication. This is primarily known for non-verbal cues, such as a deficient or atypical perception of nonverbal communication from the eyes or the face. A distinct example would be a child with autism demonstrating difficulty in making or maintaining eye contact with someone they are engaged with, or focusing on atypical features of the face such as the nose or forehead. For verbal communication, there is often demonstrations of babbling or abnormal verbalizations in tone, pitch, and rhythm.
A primary example of atypical verbal communication is echolalia, where the child with autism will echo back what another social being has said, without necessarily interpreting or understanding the social meaning of that echoed speech. This emphasizes the difficulties children with special needs may experience when attempting to connect socially with their peers, as they often have notable deficits in pragmatics, the social use of language. Their social interactions are often characterized by irrelevant details in conversation, demonstrating inappropriate shifts in topic especially to topics of their own interest, or a complete disregard for the normal interchange in conversation, where one person speaks and then another can respond to the topic presented by the first speaker. Although these disruptions in communication are well-known and can characterize several children within the spectrum, variability in comprehension and expression exists. Some children are more effective at telling stories, communicating better with prompts, or when reading or writing rather than speaking. In summary, children with special needs will often demonstrate some atypical responses to social cues, whether verbal or non-verbal, but they are aware on a brain-based level of the social context of every environment they are exposed to. Their expression of this brain-based process does not match, therefore is often misinterpreted.
Written in connection with BBAIM
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