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1. On pages 689 and 690 of Chapter 20 there is a list of several specific learning disabilities.  Please select and describe three of these learning disabilities.  2. What will be some personal or professional challenges you anticipate when working with children or      adolescents with disabilities?  3. Please list and describe at least one local resource for children or teens with the following disabilities. Include the address and phone number and services provided by these agencies: a. autism b. deafc. blindd. developmentally delayed


Chapter Objectives

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•       Outline the history of special education in the United States

•       Explain the categories of disabilities

•       Discuss the procedures for IDEA and Section 504 in the schools

•       Describe some counseling strategies for children with special needs

•       Talk about working with the families of children with disabilities

The Situation

•       Children with disabilities are different from the norm

•       Their problem is just as much society’s perception as the limitation of the child

•       Counseling is only partially about the special need

•       It is more about dealing with society’s reaction to it and the effects of those reactions on the child

•       They are often treated poorly both at school and at home

Categories of Exceptionalities

•       Autism

•       Behaviorally-emotionally disabled

•       Deaf-blindness

•       Hearing impaired

•       Mentally disabled

•       Multiple disabilities

•       Orthopedic impairment

•       Other health impairment

•       Specific learning disability

•       Speech or language impairment

•       Traumatic Brain Injury

•       Visual impairment

Steps for Identification

•       Child is referred as needing services

•       The child is evaluated

•       A group considers the results and determines eligibility

•       If eligible, an individual educational plan (IEP) is written for the child

•       The IEP meeting is scheduled

•       The meeting is held and the IEP plan finalized

•       Services are provided

•       Progress measured and reported

•       IEP reviewed annually

•       The child is re-evaluated at least every 3 years

Methods of Counseling

•       Strategies should be incorporated into a positive, accepting counseling relationship

•       Need to have basic knowledge of the disabling condition as well as the needs and characteristics of the children

•       Listen to them

•       Help children see themselves as people who can and do perform and accomplish goals

Some General Questions

Have I helped:

•       The child develop good relations with classmates

•       The child learn to solve his own problems

•       The child to feel better about himself/herself

•       Parents and teachers interact in ways that help the child

•       The child with self-concept

•       The child understand, through my behavior, that he/she is a valuable human being

Emotional Disturbance

•       “…a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child’s educational performance—

(A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. (B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. (C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. (D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems.” [Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34, Section 300.7(c)(4)(i)]

Emotional Disturbances

Children may exhibit

•       Hyperactivity

•       Aggression/self-injury

•       Withdrawal

•       Immaturity

•       Learning difficulties

•       Distorted thinking

•       Bizarre behavior

•       Anorexia and bulimia

•       Mood disorders

•       Trauma

•       Chaotic home life

Emotional Disturbance


•       Need love and understanding

•       Security and stability

•       Relationship is very important (history of unstable relationships)

•       Must place consistent limits and hold child accountable

•       Counseling strategies mirror educational strategies

•       Be very explicit about appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior

Learning Disability

•       A group of disorders that make learning more difficult than normal

•       Causes: genetic, environmental, biological

•       Basic definition: achievement is less than measured potential

•       Consequence of definition is that children who are cognitively limited can’t have a learning disability

•       Umbrella terms that cover the following: dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, dyspraxia, central and auditory processing disorders, nonverbal learning disorders, visual perceptual/visual motor deficit, language disorders

•       Recognize and reflect the child’s feelings

•       The disability itself often causes social problems

•       Requires training in social skills and self image

Learning Disability- Counseling

Brief solution focused therapy

•       Step 1: Build rapport, define specific problems

•       Step2: Consider what hasn’t worked – look at possible solutions

•       Step 3: Help student decide on specific measurable goal – “miracle question”

•       Step 4: Help decide on specific task

•       Step 5: Check back later

Learning Disability- Education

•       Changes to classroom procedures

•       Teach child organizational skills

•       Teach about considering consequences

•       Teach social skills

•       Help child overcome sense of failure

•       Promote positive attitude toward learning

•       Complete diagnostic evaluation and education plan


•       Three types

o   Predominately inattentive type

o   Predominately hyperactive/impulsive type

o   Combined type

•       Symptoms

o   Present before age 7

o   Persists for more than 6 months

o   Present in multiple settings

o   Inconsistent with child’s developmental level

o   Clearly impairs functioning

•       Treatment

o   Multidisciplinary, multi-treatment model

o   Medication alone not recommended but common

o   Suggestions for counselors

•       Behavior modification

•       Cognitive restructuring

•       Case management

•       Parent support groups

•       CHADD (

Intellectual Disability Disorder


•       Intellectual disability disorder is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills. This disability originates before age 18.

•       Note: each case is so unique it is difficult to provide general information

•       Subtypes:

o   Intermittent: needs occasional help

o   Limited: Need consistent and sometimes intensive support

o   Extensive: Needs regular involvement and long term support

o   Pervasive: constant high intensity support services

After diagnosis study four areas

  1. Intellectual and adaptive skills
  2. Psychological and emotional concerns
  3. Physical functioning and health
  4. Current environment and optimal environment

Counseling goals

•       Provide survival skills

•       Train parents and educators on how to train the child

•       Case management: ensure the child is getting the services to which they are entitled

Physical Disability

•       Disabilities vary widely in extent:

o   Diabetes, Cystic Fibrosis, Pregnancy

•       Often comorbid problems

•       The child has much negative association with self

•       Teachers need help on how to accommodate

•       Need to work with involved agencies

•       Working with the child

o   Teach to appreciate strengths

o   Teach self-advocacy

o   Arrange for mentors/friends

General Ideas

Behavior modification

•       Identify, define, and measure behavior

•       Identify context of behavior

•       Identify what causes or maintains behavior

•       Identify interventions to change behavior

Summary of tasks

•       Recognize the child as a person

•       Understand the exceptionality

•       Counsel for self esteem; self acceptance

•       Coordinate services

•       Help significant others reach understanding

•       Assist in development of life, personal, social skills

•       Encourage recreational skills

•       Counseling with parents

•       Work with referral agencies

Counseling with Parents of Exceptional Children

•       Very little research in this area

•       Parents suffer range of emotions at not getting the child they wanted

•       Parents may over protect or under protect

•       Parents may sacrifice their lives for their child

•       Parents may need to work through guilt (which is sometimes justified)

•       Something done while pregnant (FAS)

•       Punishment for sins

•       Ashamed

•       What will neighbors think/say

Counseling tasks

o   Help parents with education

o   Help through unproductive feelings

o   Connect to resources

o   Help set realistic expectations

o   Help them realize child’s uniqueness

o   NICHCY (

o   Parent support groups

o   Maybe family therapy


•       Children with special needs can learn, enjoy life, be independent and productive, and fulfill their individual potential just as surely as all other children can.

•       They have the same rights to respect and growth as other children, and they have the same needs.

•       Counselors must understand the complexities of different types of disabilities, the provision of special education services, and the many ways counselors may contribute to these children’s lives.

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