The Child Development Associate (CDA) National Credentialing program requires no fewer than 10 training hours in 8 CDA subject areas. In addition, candidates must complete at least 480 hours of professional work experience in an appropriate setting. Although specific knowledge in the area of special needs is not included in this list, many available courses would qualify for one or more of the above categories and also better prepare caretakers to serve a wider variety of children.
Why is this important? Due to an increased understanding of human development, many children are receiving diagnoses at earlier ages. Even caretakers of infants and toddlers can be key participants in early intervention plans and contribute significantly to the long-term success of these programs.
Here are 5 reasons every child caretaker should have special needs training:
1. Environmental Modification
Whether the location is a classroom or a care center, children of all different abilities and learning styles need to thrive. Children with special needs benefit from accommodations in their environment. For example, children with sensory processing disorders may require changes in lighting, noise level, and overall stimulation to be able to regulate. Knowing what environmental changes to implement in a setting can make the difference between a successful and unsuccessful experience.
2. Awareness of Physical Differences
Children with physical disabilities such as asthma, epilepsy, or multiple sclerosis require specific protocols for support. Allergies represent an area of physical differences that may not require significant program modification, but attention is still required to avoid exposure to food or items that could cause severe reactions.
3. Support for Communication and Emotional Needs
Unlike physical disabilities, communication and emotional disorders may have components that are not readily visible or supported with physical adaptions. These differences range from mild to severe, along with the level of support needed.
4. Addressing Behavioral Challenges
Differences in cognitive, physical, communicative, or emotional ability may contribute to increased frustration and problem behavior in children. For example, children who have difficulty explaining emotions with words may exhibit aggression or defiance as a result. Individualized, consistent behavior interventions are a fundamental portion of these children's care plans.
5. Inclusion is Essential
Children with special needs often need adjustments—whether in timing, materials, or adult assistance—to be able to participate in a regular care program. Regardless of these adjustments, consistent participation in peer social environments is critical to their development and growth. Courses are available with titles such as "Understanding Inclusion in Early Childcare Settings," to provide specific training in this area.
Children with disabilities usually have a multidisciplinary care team, possibly including physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, behavioral therapists, psychologists, and other professionals. However, the time spent with these therapists is magnified in effectiveness when regular caregivers can understand and implement treatment plans and work together as a cohesive team.
Who spends more time with the child than any of these professionals? Regular caretakers. For that reason, training courses specifically addressing special needs can make a world of difference. Contact services like Atlas Training, Inc. to learn more.