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Children's Medical Services - Special services for children with special needs
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Infant Toddler Development Training
Module 1, Lesson 5

Activity #1

Read Views from our Shoes

There you will find two entries of siblings talking about their experiences of having a sibling with special needs. Reflect on how having a sibling with special needs can bring about different emotions and concerns. Notice how different the two excerpts are, paying close attention to the age and gender of the two authors and the exceptionality of the sibling. Think about how these emotions and concerns may change as the child without special needs matures.


Activity #2

An online forum is provided on the siblings of autism website. There, children of various ages express their feelings, ask questions and respond to other writers about their experiences as siblings of children with special needs. It is interesting to read the thoughts and responses. A recent entry and response in the forum are paraphrased below.

Forum Entry:


My name is Carey and I am seven. I love my little brother very much. He is 2 ½ years old and his name is Dixon. We have played together a lot this summer and had fun. When Dixon leaves to go to his playgroup with our Mom, I feel lonely. I am the only one in the family who can really understand him. My Mom gets really stressed with him sometimes, I can tell.

I like Dixon because he is really silly and funny. He likes Thomas the tank engine trains and really likes to line things up. Sometimes he is really aggravating like yesterday when he let my balloon go into the air because he wanted to see it float away. I was really sad and mad about it. But now I really don't care. Even though Dixon has Autism, I am glad he is my brother.


Response to Entry:

After reading the Forum entry, reflect on the following questions. How do you suppose Carey's experiences growing up have been different having a sibling with autism? What effect do you see on her future goals and concerns compared to other peers her age? How might Carey's life have been different had her brother not had autism? Do you see this impact as positive or negative? How might Carey's attitudes change as she gets older?

As a follow-up to this activity and as time allows, you may want to go to the website to read entries in the forum and respond to some that are of interest.


Activity #3

In this lesson, we addressed medical assistive devices that are important to many children to sustain life and promote development. There are numerous other assistive devices, not related medically, which can have a great effect on children with special needs such as communication devices, hearing aids, visual assistive devices, etc. Conduct an internet search to locate various types of assistive devices that can assist children with the following tasks: hearing, vision, pre-writing, communicating, eating, and mobility. Notice the low tech items (inexpensive) versus high tech items (expensive). Reflect on some of these items and the importance of children's use in gaining independence and achieving success in everyday situations. You might want to develop a resource file on some of these items for future use with your families. Two interesting websites to search are

  • Ablenet
  • Assistive Technologies>


Activity #4

Read Chapter 6, Recommended Practices in Technology Applications in DEC Recommended Practices in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education by Sandall, McLean, Smith (Eds.) (2000). Pay close attention to pages 59-61. Look at the following two sections to evaluate whether they match your belief and the practice in your work setting:

  • Families and professionals collaborate in planning and implementing the use of assistive technology.
  • Families and professionals use technology to access information and support.

Based on your reading, list 3 ideas of how families are involved with assistive technology according to Recommended Practices.


Lesson 5 Highlights

This last lesson addressed the effect developmental delays, disorders, and disabilities have on the child, the family, and others. Multiple disabilities may have different effects on children who have the same types of multiple disabilities due to the individual child's situation. Several types of assistive devices were discussed that can sustain and/or enhance a child's life.


Batshaw, M. L. (1997). Children with disabilities. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Duncan, B. W., Howell, L. J., deLorimier, A. A., et al. (1992). Tracheostomy in children with emphasis on home care. Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 27, 432-435.

Heller, K. W., Alberto, P. A., Forney, P. E., & Schwartzman, M. N. (1996). Understanding physical, sensory, and health impairments. Pacific Grove, CA: Brookes/Cole.

Knott, F., Lewis, C., & Williams, T. (1995). Sibling interaction of children with learning disabilities: A comparison of autism and Down's syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 36, 965-976.

Miller, N. B. (1994). Nobody's perfect: Living and growing with children who have special needs. Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes.

Poets, C. F., & Southall, D. P. (1994). Noninvasive monitoring of oxygenation in infants and children: Practical considerations and areas of concern. Pediatrics, 93, 737-746.

Saddler, A. L., Hillman, S. B., & Benjamins, D. (1993). The influence of disabling condition visibility on family functioning. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 18(4), 425-439.

Silvestri, J. M., Weese-Mayer, D. E., & Kenny, A. S. (1994). Prolonged cardiorespiratory monitoring of children more than twelve months of age: Characterization of events and approach to discontinuation. Journal of Pediatrics, 125, 51-56.

Snowdown, A. W., Cameron, S., & Dunham, K. (1994). Relationships between stress, coping resources, and satisfaction with family functioning in families of children with disabilities. Canadian Journal of Nursing Research, 26(3), 63-76.

Turnbull, A. P., & Turnbull, H. R. III. (1997). Families, professionals, and exceptionalities: A special partnership. Columbus, OH: Merrill/Prentice Hall.


  • Woodbine House
  • Assistive Technologies
  • AbleNet


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