When you think of disabilities in today’s society, a heavy emphasis is placed on accommodations. And rightfully so. It is important to understand how a person’s physical or mental limitations can and should be addressed in the context of their everyday lives.
Assistive techology as well as modifications can be used to alleviate some of the obstacles associate with certain conditions. In schools, this is especially true. Educators and parents spend countless hours trying to ensure that the presence of a disability does not impede upon a child’s access to an education. But given the changes that children undergo during their school years, there is an equally important yet unrecognized factor that gets lost in the shuffle: that is the impact of a disability on a child’s social development.
While there are inherent physical and cognitive limitations involved with most disabilities, there are more social implications as well. This is especially true of children since they learn to socialize at such a young age. Schools are particularly unique institutions in that they have they offer opportunities for both socialization and education. But in an effort to address the more pressing educational needs, social needs may be being left behind. While this may not be exclusive to children with disabilities, it may hold greater consequences for them. What impact does the presence of a disability have on self-concept, group identification, and making friends? How does this affect a child’s ability to interact with others? And how does this carry over into areas such as decision-making, goal setting, and confict resolution? These issues are just as important, if not more, than a child’s educational development and school years may be the most pertinent time for them to be addressed.
So while parents attend IEP meetings to plot the course of their child’s future. And teachers implement strategies to address limitations in a classroom setting. Consider the more subtle social implications of a child’s disability. How these issues are resolved now can hold strong indicators for the success of these children as adults.