22 Oct Why Special Needs Education Is Important
As a student pursuing the Diploma in Special Education (Early Years) and currently doing her community service project, Pang Jia Ming Olivia shares her viewpoint.
“Working with special needs children is challenging for sure, but the bigger challenge is to get the ‘normal’ children to understand them, and then further accept and embrace the opportunity to learn with these children in an inclusive environment.”
Pang Jia Ming Olivia, Student,
Diploma in Special Education (Early Years), Dika College
A chance encounter
Pang Jia Ming Olivia is a bubbly and cheerful 20-year-old student who loves children. A chance encounter at a church camp was what had her signing up for the Diploma in Special Education (Early Years) course at Dika College.
“At the camp, I was excited to be assigned to work with some children with hearing difficulties. My task as a volunteer was to engage with the children and have them participate in the activities that were prepared for them. I made the effort to learn simple sign language so that I would be able to communicate with these children. By the end of the camp, the children were happily participating in the activities set forth for them. It was truly a fun and warm moment for me,” Pang shared.
This fuelled a desire to learn more and be able to interact with children with special needs. Dika College’s Diploma in Special Needs Education had everything she needed. Her parents, too, were very supportive of her decision to take up a course in Special Needs Education.
The importance of Special Needs Education
“Special Needs Education is important for children with learning disabilities as it gives them the opportunity to get quality education in line with their unique needs.
As far as Special Needs Education goes, it is not only important to educate the child, but equally important to educate the child’s family and take into account the environment surrounding them too,” she added.
SENSORY EXPERIENCE: Hand painting is a fun and simple sensory activity for special needs children. It is also a relaxing and creative way for children to express their feelings.
Pang added that through individualised learning plans suited to the child’s needs, the child is given equal rights to education, regardless of the difficulty the child faces. It is extremely rewarding when a child with a learning disability starts to read, or when a child with autism starts to understand social cues.
SENSORY EXPERIENCE: Processing information can be challenging for a child with Special needs. A sensory tub ( filled with flour, rice or beans ) can come in handy to integrate a child’s senses and improve his/her attention.
Special Needs Education – The Experience
Pang, who is due to complete her course by the end of year 2021, related her experience, “My first internship was terrifying! A child bit my hand when I did not give in to her wants and tantrums. I was shocked, but luckily, I knew how to safely release my hand. The second time she did that, I was better prepared. I pointed at her reflection in the mirror to let her see herself doing what she did, and somehow she eventually stopped biting.”
Pang shared that her learning experience at Dika College has been a good one. Her lecturers have been motivating and respectful; and everyone, from the students to the lecturers, has all been like a family, which is what makes it a fun place to study.
A rewarding career
“My advice to aspiring students is to be assured that a career path in Special Needs Education can feel really rewarding. It is not just a job that educates children, but it is a purposeful one that teaches children how to live and be independent in the real world,” Pang said.
Pang offers some pointers for students planning to take up the Diploma in Special Education (Early Years) :
- Be proactive to learn more about special needs children and their issues. Reading and researching are essential.
- Don’t be shy to ask questions when in doubt.
- Most reading materials available are in English, therefore be open to mastering the language.
- A passion to work with special needs children is a must.
This aspiring Speech Pathologist hopes to one day be able to impact and change the lives of special children with the valuable lessons and experiences that she has gained at Dika College.
A word from Venus Lim, Head of Special Needs Education, Dika College
Our Diploma in Special Education (Early Years) is benchmarked against industry standards, and in my opinion, is very similar in content to a degree program. This is because we want students to be prepared for what the industry needs.
The lecturers are very experienced and caring, and we strive hard to provide students with an engaging and fun learning experience. We have been told that this experience is not available anywhere else.
I am also happy to note that our graduates have been really pleased with what they have achieved after completing the Diploma in Special Education course at Dika College. We hope they will continue their journey to change lives.