How to know if your child has some special needs

Children with special needs may have more mental health needs for a variety of reasons. They could be under more pressure and face more difficult social challenges.

By Prakriti Poddar

When you look at an infant, there are a variety of special needs that are noticeable and apparent. However, there are occasions when we need to be on the lookout for signals that may indicate a problem or that require our involvement.

Initially, learning disorders such as autism, dyslexia, dyscalculia, ADD, and even dysgraphia can be harder to identify. Every child grows at his or her own pace, but there are some main indicators to track. During the first year of a kid’s development, defects in motor function, language, and sensory perception could be detected. Head-banging, self-biting, and other unwanted or extreme responses to circumstances, as well as repeated outbursts that the child is unable to regulate or self-soothe, are also signs of potential behavioural problems.

According to studies published in the Journal of Intellectual and Developmental Disability, 30-50 per cent of children with intellectual and learning disabilities can also have mental health issues. The sooner we can detect these issues, the better we can support our children and be there for them to help them grow and thrive.

What mental health challenges do children with special needs face?

Children with special needs may have more mental health needs for a variety of reasons. They could be under more pressure and face more difficult social challenges. They may be limited in their language skills or suffer from nervous system symptoms that impair their mental health. They are more likely to be exposed to trauma, such as rape, neglect, bullying, and restraint. Trauma may also cause mental health issues.

Panic attacks, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and behavioural issues are common mental health diagnoses among children with special needs.

If you suspect your child has special needs, they may have autism, ADD, or other types of developmental disorders and face various mental health challenges. Each of these disorders bring about specific behavioural changes.

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According to a Canadian National Charity, Autismspeaks, signs of autism are as follows:

  • Not being able to say even a simple word after 1 year or 15 months

  • Cannot make eye contact

  • Does not respond when being called by name

  • Disability to have conversations

  • Obsessive fixation with objects


According to the National Institutes of Health, a child with dyslexia may:

  • Have difficulty with rhyming

  • Confuse similar sounding words

  • Find it challenging to learn alphabets

  • First graders may have difficulty spelling and reading words

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)

According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, kids may not be able to pay attention to detail.

  • One of the most common manifestations of ADD is that the child may not be able to concentrate on one topic, conversation, or activity for more than a few seconds or minutes.

  • They may have difficulty organizing tasks or listening when spoken to.

  • The child may exhibit a dislike or reluctance to participate in tasks that require mental effort.

These are signs of a few developmental disorders among children. There are others as well. If you suspect that your child may have special needs, it is always best to consult a professional to get an accurate diagnosis.

ALSO READ |The role of occupational therapy for children with learning disabilities

How can parents help their children after the diagnosis? 

It’s a good idea to pause and pose questions if your child’s attitude or behaviour appears to shift unexpectedly. It’s possible that they need mental health treatment. You will assist your child and those who work with them in determining this.

Taking the child to a licensed mental health therapist for children with special needs, understanding how the child responds to stress, guiding them to exercise, eat a healthy diet and sleep well will also go a long way.

Along with healthy physical habits, you can guide your child to have healthy emotional habits. You can provide the child with healthy outlets to process their anger, frustration, or other feelings that come up.

And lastly, as the old saying goes, we cannot pour from an empty cup. So, while you take care of your precious children, don’t forget to take care of yourself to avoid burning out.

(The writer is Global Head for Mental Health at Round Glass, Managing Trustee Poddar Foundation)

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Will Smith Wants You to Know He’s in the ‘Worst Shape’ of His Life

Baring it all. Will Smith revealed on social media that he thinks he isn’t in the best shape right now.

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“I’m gonna be real wit yall – I’m in the worst shape of my life,” Smith, 52, captioned the photo via Instagram on Sunday, May 2. The actor was sporting an unzipped hoodie and tight black shorts in the post.

The Grammy winner received instant support on his shirtless post.

A post shared by Will Smith (@willsmith)

“You look good!” Amy Schumer wrote in response to Smith.

His The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air costar Nia Long showed the actor some love, writing, “You still got it baby!!!” British singer Sonna Rele, meanwhile, wrote: “You’re Will Smith!! You can be in whatever shape you want.”

Jersey Show star Jenni Farley revealed that she felt the same way and shared some advice in the comments section. “Live your best life,” she wrote.

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Filmmaker Ava DuVernay, for her part, wrote: “I see no ‘worst’ here.”

The Philadelphia native has often talked about getting in shape for his movie roles. In January 2020, he spoke about his career-defining shirtless scene in 1995’s Bad Boys.

“For this scene, I wanted to have my shirt on, and Michael [Bay] was like, ‘Dude, I’m going to make you a freaking movie star, take your shirt off,’” Smith explained during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at the time. “And I was like, ‘Michael, come on man,’ and he was like, ‘Dude, you don’t know, I know!’”

Bay, 56, and Smith did end up finding a compromise, with The Pursuit of Happyness star opening his shirt in the scene but not completely taking it off.

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“To this day, every time I see Michael he’s like, ‘Dude, I should be in for half. I made your career,’” Smith added.

Years later, Smith had to get in tip top shape for his role in Suicide Squad too. “I knew from the very beginning that this was going to be a big movie for me,” Smith told Men’s Journal in 2016.

The Cobra Kai alum ended up with a torn leg muscle early into training for the film. “It was really scary to be in that position,” he said at the time. “When you’re 47 years old, no injury is a mild injury anymore. I was stepping back to throw a blow, and my calf popped. Everyone heard it. The doctor there told me that I was going to be down for six weeks, but I couldn’t allow that.”

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