Reg. 3 recognising Special Education Needs

─ 35 parents attend symposium

─ special education needs children entertain parents with poetry and singing

─ parents advised on good parenting

DPI, Guyana, Friday, May 3, 2019

The Department of Education in Region 3, Essequibo Islands-West Demerara recently held a one-day symposium for parents with children that have special education needs under the theme, “Parenting with Love and Logics.” Thirty-five parents attended the symposium.

The term ‘Special Educational Needs’ (SEN) is used to describe learning difficulties or disabilities that make it difficult for children to learn in the same manner as most children of the same age. These children are likely to need extra or different help from that given to other children their age.

Coordinator of the symposium, SEN Officer, Akeshia Benjamin noted that the SEN unit at the Department of Education is relatively new and for parents to understand its roles and responsibilities, frequent engagement is necessary.

“Special Education Needs is becoming more popular in our country due to the growing demand for it and the global recognition for greater consideration for our special needs children. The SEN unit at Region 3 has a mission to ensure parents are comfortable with the type of services given to their babies and frequent engagements of this nature are necessary,” Benjamin said.

Also speaking at the symposium was National SEN Officer within the Ministry of Education Savvie Hopkinson who said that the symposium was geared towards getting parents to engage with each other.

“Parents must know that they are not alone in this and in order to ensure that they become excellent parents there are some core principles that must be followed. Acceptance, courage, wisdom and enjoyment are features that parents must embrace. Acceptance is not to tolerate or to have a feeling of being trapped or saying you have no choice. Being prepared and following the best prenatal advice, your first responsibility is to accept the reality and seek the help needed and follow recommendations that would improve the life chances of the child and grow your personality.”

She added that courage refers to the inner strength that prevents being consumed by the reality of disability. She said that parents should commend their child for good deeds and good behaviour. “Children should be challenged with new tasks and stimulating engagements to boost their holistic development.”

She elaborated that wisdom allows parents to set realistic goals for their children, adding that daily interaction with children that require special education needs will expose their strengths and weaknesses.

“Spending quality time with your child will help you to understand him or her and set realistic achievable goals. You are your child’s greatest advocate. It is important to believe that your child can achieve and become successful,” Hopkinson noted.

In closing her presentation to the gathering, the National SEN Officer noted that parents need to be fair, consistent, calm and realistic when teaching their children. “Enjoying your children does not mean ignoring teachable moments and training.”

Adding her voice to the presentation was Regional Education Officer, Annesta Douglas who said that with April being used to recognising autism globally, it is crucial to place the spotlight on the hurdles that people with autism face every day.

The Special Education Needs class from Wales Primary School closed the symposium with cultural presentations in the form of dramatic poetry, singing and an acrostic on what is autism and why it is worth the attention.

Story and Images: Ganesh Mahipaul