“Exceptional Children – a term coined at the 1930 White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals, to refer to all children who are different from typically developing children.” pg 80 of The Exceptional Child
Two facts to keep in mind when think of children with:
- A CHILD, ABOVE ALL ELSE, IS A CHILD! REGARDLESS OF HOW SMART OR DELAYED OR TROUBLED THAT CHILD MAYBE.
- EVERY CHILD IS UNIQUE, DIFFERENT, AND THEREFORE EXCEPTIONAL IN ONE OR MORE WAYS!
(These two facts are also straight from page 80 except for I put them in all caps because I think they’re that important.)
Normal or Typical Development is when a child is changing, growing, and acquiring skills at basically the same age and in the same order as the majority of children close to their age.
This process of acquiring skills moves along what is called a developmental continuum, or a “the range of skills or behaviors among children in any one area of development.” Using the word normal is sometimes questionable, especially given the differences in culture, community, or even with a single child’s family. Children also grow at their own pace. The idea of typical development will vary greatly from child to child. Even with these variances, there can is a fairly predictable pattern or order of development. This order involves developmental milestones, or “points at which specific skills are acquired in a fairly predictable order.”
Atypical or Exceptional Development – these words present problems as they tend to be all inclusive, meaning they can pertain to anyone from a child with a mild difference to a child who has way above average intelligence.
What is more helpful is identify developmental delays, developmental disorders, and when a child is at risk.
A developmental delay is when a child is performing like a child who of a much younger age.
A developmental disorder is when a child is cannot perform skills typical of their similarly aged peers, but the potential for growth is still there.
A child who is at risk may be showing signs that serious problems may develop later, but these problems will be resolved if there is early intervention.
Another type of development that is different than typical is when a child is showing signs they are gifted. This is important to take notice of too because they may need some early intervention to prevent problems later due to lack of stimulation or challenge.
The best thing we can do as parents, care givers, and teacher is be aware of developmental milestones. The CDC is a great place to find information on milestones. Here is a link to a milestone card that gives some milestones for children from age 6 months – four years.
Milestone Moments is a booklet that gives a more detailed checklist of a child’s milestones from 2 months to 5 years old.
Baby Steps: Learn the Signs. Act Early. is a video on recognizing signs of a possible problems and what to do.