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Lecture 1 - Introduction to Children who are Exceptional (Chapter 1).docx

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Western University
Psychology 2043A/B
Esther Goldberg

Introduction to Children who are Exceptional Associated Reading: Chapter 1 What is Exceptionality?  Children with exceptionalities are those who have intellectual, emotional, physical, or social performance above or below that of other children  An exceptional child is one who is essentially ‘different’ from the average, in some extreme way  12-15% of school age children are exceptional in terms of having a need for special education services (approximately 1 in 10 children of this age)  A variety of terms are used to describe children with exceptionalities Terminology Impairments – abnormalities of body structure and/or system function  Impairments can stem from any cause (i.e. a birth issue, an accident or illness occurring later in life, etc.)  Congenital impairments are ones that the individual is born with  Adventitious impairments are those that occur later in life Disability – consequences of impairments in regards to functional performance  A disability has to do with one’s performance  If you have a disability, your functioning in some areas is going to be affected (ex. mobility, hearing, vision, etc.)  It implies that some system is compromised (some area of functioning) Handicap – disadvantages of impairments; an inability to meet environmental demands or goals  A handicap reflects that an individual is unable to meet an environmental demand  NOTE: a disability only becomes a handicap when it interferes with someone’s ability to do something  Example: blindness o Disability  visually impaired o Handicap  cannot drive a car (for instance)  Disabled people are not considered handicapped unless we cannot find a way to accommodate the environment for them Developmental Disability – indicates the presence of a condition that significantly affects the process of development  This term accounts for a wide range of disabilities Developmental Delay – implies that a child is behind their peers, but may catch up  Professionals have moved away from using this term  If someone is delayed, it implies that they are eventually going to catch up, or that that skill will eventually develop  However, this is misleading, because people with developmental delays don’t necessarily catch up fully  This term is usually used in an attempt to be more politically correct, but it does not completely apply Ontario’s Legal Progression  Developmental supports have changed over the years  For about 100 years (since 1876), it was the norm to have institutions where individuals with developmental disabilities would be ‘housed’  By the 1960’s, these institutions hosed over 10 000 individuals  Then, in 1971, The Williston Report surfaced – this report was a review of the care that we were giving individuals with developmental disabilities o This report recommended that institutions be phased out as quickly as possible, with residential supports being provided in the community settings o The intention of this report was to ‘get rid’ of institutions and to allow individuals with disabilities to return back to their communities and their families o If an individual needed outside support, the could reside in a dwelling within their own community – they didn’t necessarily have to live at home, but at least they would be in their native community o The intention was that they wanted people with disabilities to be included and involved in their own communities  Then, in 1973, the Welch Paper surfaced – it suggested that wherever possible, community based services should be provided as an alternative to institutionalization o The research done for this paper involved looking at all of the studies that had been done on individuals with developmental disorders o They about that the issues that were facing the disabled population were social rather than medical, so there was no justification for segregation o The institutions were isolating, and the support that these individuals were receiving was not adequate or suitable o In essence, the Welch Paper suggested that we were doing this population a disservice  As a result of The Williston Report and the Welch Paper, The Developmental Services Act was formed in 1974 o It allowed for provisions for individuals with developmental disabilities living in these facilities o It also stated that by 2009, by law, all individuals living with developmental disabilities must be back in their own communities o Therefore, if a certain community did not, at the time, have the means of supporting the disabled population, they had to accommodate for that by 2009 o The focus had shifted from Ministry provided services to broader family system issues – the inclusion of all people and allowing them to be close to their families and their homes The Legal Definition of a Developmental Disability in Ontario  In 2008, The Developmental Services Act was replaced a new act  This new act helped people with developmental disabilities to participate in their communities  Under this new act, people with developmental disabilities were entitles to funding from the government, so long as they fit within a certain criteria: o A person has a developmental disability if they have prescribed significant limitations in cognitive functioning and adaptive functioning an those limitations…  Started before 18 years of age;  Are likely to be life-long in nature; and  Affect areas of major life activity (i.e. personal care, language sills, learning abilities, the capacity to live independently as an adult or any other prescribed activity)  As mentioned above, ‘areas of major life activity’ is often referred to as limitations in adaptive behaviours (life skills) – this includes social responsibility (as for their age and social group), and cognitive functioning as well  Cognitive functioning is simply a person’s intellectual capacity  However, this is more than just how well one scores on IQ tests – it also has to do with reasoning, organizing, planning, judging consequences of behaviour etc.  This category is usually assessed in relation to what is typical for that child’s age group  According to the government, 1% of Ontarians have a developmental disability (1 out of 100)  Notice that this is significantly different than the 12 15% discussed earlier – only 1% are the individuals that qualify for recognition under this act Exceptionality vs. Diagnosis (A Political Issue) Exceptional:  A descriptor; it implies that one is different from the norm  This term is encompassing and socially acceptable  Its use may or may not reflect a conferred diagnosis  The term ‘exceptional’ is politically correct (i.e. it doesn’t imply anything negative)  It is often used in school boards, because you do not need any specific credentials in order to do so (as it may or may not reflect a conferred diagnosis made by a professional)  It is not a protected term (i.e. it does not have legal value) Diagnosis:  A limited act, done only by certain professionals  It usually reflects the use of a dimensional classification system (ex. DSM-IV – a prescribed list that the diagnosis will be based on)  Co-Morbidity – co-occurring diagnoses or labels o Example: if you have autism, you may also have mental retardation  In contrast to ‘exceptional’, a diagnosis is a protected act – it can only be legally done by certain professionals  Ex. speech-language pathologists cannot ‘diagnose’, but can deem children exceptional  Anyone can formulate a diagnosis, but in order to confer it you have to be qualified (ex. a psychologist or a physician) The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)  The DSM is the most widely used psychiatric reference in the world, and is the standard classification of mental disorders used by mental health professionals in the US and Canada  It is used to diagnose psychiatric conditions  The words and phrases within this book eventually become outdated, so new editions need to be produced  The book covers both adults and children  It is focused on providing symptoms and statistics – it usually describes which sex is most affected, the age of onset, common treatments etc.  There are other systems – this is not the only option  The WHO has their own version of this book which is in its 10 version (while the DSM is only in its 4 )  They look more at commonalities around the world for their symptoms, rather than just North America Broad Categories of Exceptionalities 1) Intellectual Exceptionalities:  Intellectual exceptionalities are based on intellectual test scores  There are a number of different disabilities that fit into this category: o Mental retardation/intellectual disability o Giftedness o Learning disability 2) Exceptionalities of Communication:  There are a number of different disabilities that fit into this category: o Speech and language differences/impairments o Pervasive developmental disorders (PDD) 3) Behavioural Exceptionalities 4) Sensory Exceptionalities:  This category is not covered in the DMS, as it takes a special type of professional to diagnose these exceptionalities: o Hearing o Vision 
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