I went to the West Midlands Regional NCMA forum yesterday and the seminar in the afternoon was on the needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children and how they can be met. We started by talking about what ALL children need, based on Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs. How it works is that if the child's basic needs for nutrition and warmth and then security, which includes protection from harm, limits and boundaries and consistency, if these are not met, then the child will struggle to move further up the pyramid, and will be hampered in trying to form meaningful relationships with other children for example.
There are many reasons why a child may not have these most basic needs met, but as childminders it is part of our job to help every child reach their full potential so working toward identifying and eliminating negative factors is very important. I asked whether despite the home environment, if during the child's time in my home, that they had good meals, security, love and affection, would they be able to reach the higher levels and it was considered that yes, that could happen.... this heartened me amd made me realise that we can all make a difference!
We then went on to discuss impairment and disability. Impairment describes a loss or limitation of function on a temporary or permanent basis. Disability is the limitations experienced due to impairment. Impairments need not disable the child if the environment and available equipment is adjusted to their needs. Such children do not have 'special' needs, their needs are the same as every other child's such as to have opportunities to learn, to move about in the environment, to have choices, to be accepted and valued by other people, and to learn to make decisions. Having an impairment might mean that you meet their needs in different ways, and that you treat them differently in order to treat them equally. We must also be aware that our own attitudes and assumptions are not limiting our expectations of the child regarding their development!
If you are working with children with impairments, there is a document called Early Support that can be used to ease information transfer between professionals and build up a record of the child as an individual. There is more information about Early Support Here and materials can be downloaded or ordered from this page. The Developmental Journal is worth a look for every child you care for, as it may help you to document a child's progress. You can order a hard copy if you telephone 0845 6022 260 and quote the code ES54.