Special needs is…
Having a child who is five years old, tall enough to be six, has the physical strength nearly equal to a seven year old –
Who is highly intelligent (so, not cognitively impaired), which helps her pass off as “normal” since she finds her own way around things…
But still has the speech of a 2-3 year old at best, and the emotional stability of the same age, as well as developmental age…
This same child who is very energetic and outgoing (which also helps to mask her handicap), is also aggressive and a fighter when she gets upset. Sometimes it’s a normal “kid” issue, but a lot of times it’s because she can’t process the proper communication (either receptive or expressive), or because she doesn’t yet have the development to control her behavior when she’s upset, even to the normal level expected of her peers.
So you have this kid who looks older and intelligent, but acts out in ways that aren’t according to her age. And, especially since her handicaps aren’t immediately obvious, some people tend not to be very forgiving when she acts out in public. Most are gracious about it, but we do get comments sometimes. She can be aggressive and violent, and this combined with her size and strength compared to other kids in her age range (she easily tops the charts for normal ranges), she just looks like a bully.
I promise you, my child is not a bully. She does want her own way sometimes, but she also likes to share, and is happy to let other kids have their own way – so long as she actually understands what that way is. Breakdown in communication is a breakdown in relationship and behavior.
There’s also her tantrums, which themselves are considerable. Try holding a child who weighs 50 lbs, every inch of that is pure muscle with minimal fat, who insists on throwing herself every which way, screaming the whole time. Or, if you aren’t already holding her, she will physically THROW herself on the floor, careless of what’s around, careless of injury or what material the floor may be constructed of, whether hard or soft.
Add stress to the mix – kids get tired, they get hungry, or whatever else throws off their mood. Want more stress? Add in extra doctor visits to fill up the schedule, seizures that can affect behavior, or certain treatment measures that take up mental and physical resources. A couple weeks ago, she was going through CMIT therapy (they cast her good arm to force her weak arm to work) and she was cranky because it was wearing her out. And her cast arm became a weapon – not a conscious decision, but because her left arm is her default “strong” arm, when she’s upset she strikes out with it automatically. She gave one kid a bloody nose with it.
This is what it is in dealing with special needs.