Understanding Children With Special Needs

 By Hadeel Abdulhameed, Nadeen Hussain, Sahrish Ali, Sohila El Saadany, Sumaiyya Naseem

Help children learn and understand themselves by understanding them.  


What is Dyslexia?

It is a deficiency or a “cluster of symptoms” in a child’s ability to process information received through written words. Even though the definitive cause of dyslexia hasn’t been determined, it is in no way due to a shortcoming in intelligence.

Children with dyslexia often face trouble identifying phonetic sounds so they mispronounce words and spell them incorrectly.

Signs of dyslexia in a child may include hearing difficulties, as they can’t really make out the words clearly. They may have also been late bloomers as babies. Parents should also always be aware of their dyslexic child’s emotional state.


Dyslexics are tactile or kinesthetic learners. It is also preferable if they sit in the front of the class to focus.

  • Discuss your child’s strengths and weaknesses with his teachers.
  • Read together with your child. Get audio books along with the published versions so your child can connect sounds to the words.
  • Help him out with homework, if you are unable to do so, try to provide him with a private tutor.
  • Encourage participation in other activities, for example music or sports. Refrain from comparison to others and always celebrate accomplishments.


What is Autism?

Autism is a neurobehavioral disorder that leads to impairments in social communication skills and language interaction. It is a condition that needs institutional care. Its signs usually appear during the first three years of child’s life, but some show signs at birth while others at 18 years old. Sometimes the symptoms are hardly noticeable.


Language and expression doesn’t come easy to those with Autism. Parents and caregivers should empathize with that. Encourage them to interact in other ways as much as possible.

  • Sensory experiences help such as creating a flower bouquet, using hands-on learning techniques etc.
  • Painting with ice is a great way to recognize colors.
  • Storytelling, drawing and solving puzzles all help.


What is Dysgraphia?

Dysgraphia is the deficiency in the ability to write and spell. Children with this disorder tend to have poor handwriting, lack interest in studying and have difficulty organizing their thoughts. Children may also feel under pressure, frustrated and may find it difficult to form social bonds. (Autism, ADD and dyslexia are often accompanied with Dysgraphia).

Dysgraphia can be diagnosed through monitored academic assessments and writing tests. The child’s writing process and fine motor skills are also taken note of.


  • Teachers can evaluate on the basis of oral exercises instead of writing exercises.
  • Parents can contribute by reinforcing structured practice for developing the writing skills, including large air writing and multisensory techniques.
  • Children can do activities that require using their motor skills.
  • An important tip is to ensure the child has efficient pencil grip.

Photo Credit: pinterest.com


What is ADHD?

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is common among children, with symptoms that may persist through adulthood. It is characterized by extreme impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattentiveness. ADHD makes it difficult to study, maintain conversations, complete tasks, or even perform daily activities well.

Some of its most common symptoms include forgetfulness, misplacing things, making careless mistakes, avoiding tasks requiring high mental activity, struggling to follow instructions, talkativeness, interrupting conversations and having trouble waiting their turn in general. Children with ADHD often face difficulties maintaining peer relationships, get bored easily, always seem to be on the go, fidget constantly and find it hard to remain seated for prolonged periods of time.


Treatments include medications, behavioral intervention strategies and psychotherapy. However, medications are often abused when it comes to ADHD.

  • Ask the teacher to provide homework assignments in writing. At home, make a written list of instructions, schedules, and routines.
  • Putting things in the same place.
  • Setting timers for reminders. Take breaks and then get back on track.
  • Have a regular routine. Doing things in the same order makes it easier.
  • Alternatives that burn off the extra energy include marital arts, swimming and outdoor activities like biking and hiking.

Photo Credit: hubspot.net

Different Learning Styles

Find the style that best suits your child’s learning.

1. Visual-Spatial

They are very aware of their environments. Drawings, verbal and physical imageries help in learning.

2. Bodily-kinesthetic

They are easily taught through physical activity, hands-on learning or role-playing.

3. Musical

Turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically and tapping out time helps them learn.

4. Interpersonal

Understanding and interacting with others.

5. Intrapersonal

Understanding one’s own interests and goals.

6. Linguistic

They also have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words.

7. Logical-Mathematical

They think conceptually and abstractly. Grouping and classifying information helps them better understand it.


Photo Credit: faithlafayette.org

List of Centers

ACT Center

Help Center

Hope Center


Jeddah Autism Center


Jeddah Institute of Speech and Hearing (JISH)


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