The LSEN Learner

There are amongst you the older, wiser, knowledgeable and experienced teachers and still amongst you there are those that are part of a system that is primarily concerned with an output. Of course there are those of you that are new and not so new.

This may shine light on what we must do to make LSEN learners/ children more wholesome human beings to be part of a community riddled with prejudices. To accomplish this we must know our charges more than we know ourselves


LSENlearners with special educational needs.

Neutral typicala ‘normal child with exceptional, ordinary or a delay in achieving the milestones in development. Development is within the range of acquiring the developmental milestones. There may be delays - this is periodic.

Teacherany person directly involved in making a difference in any child’s life for development as an holistic human being.

Perception: an interpretation of how a child views reality.

Sensory/senses: the organs of perception.

Psychosomatica physical manifestation of what is in the mind.

Intervention: an act to make better.

Assessingfinding the difference before intervention and after intervention.


Understanding the LSEN learner

Who am I – the product of my parents, society and the different environments I find myself. My perception is not black and white but a 10,000 shades of grey. What I make important, what I stressed little about and what I feel, think and experience only I alone know’

This sounds like you and I, therefore every person is unique. This is so for all our learners. No two learners, cognitively intact or otherwise can be compared. Think of your own children or siblings.

Who is an LSEN learner?

Any child who deviates from typical brain development which impacts on their physical, sensory and emotional development as outlined by the broad medical society to pigeonhole a child who is ‘different’. This forms the basis for what the ‘treatment’ for these children need be.

Some children are classified by a single sensory deficient eg. hearing impairment or a physically challenged child [paraplegic] is special on not how their cognitive development is neuro-typical. For these learners the modifications of learning is highly specific.

For this workshop the emphasis is on children who fall into a spectrum of disorders of neural development characterized by impairment to cognitive, social and communication behaviors eg. cerebral palsy, learning disabled, the mentally handicapped and the severely mentally handicapped and autistic child.

Of recent children is increasing presenting with psychosomatic and psychologically deviant behaviors and are being classified as special.

The scope of this workshop is not to discuss the reasons why  children are not neural typical.

Amongst LSEN learners there can be  categorizations or groups of  learners. Eg. Cerebral palsy left hemiplegics are homogeneous yet two learners can be completely different on a spectrum of left hemiplegia hence heterogeneous. Hence each child is unique.




Remediation is the intervention for neural typical child.  But to a special child is understanding the difference……..

For the LSEN learner…….

  1. Each child comes to you with a file outlining to you the history, medical classification, current, formal educational status, economic and social background. You have to draw a plan on how to transport this child from his current point of knowing to an expected point of knowing.

  2. The tools you require are all wrapped up in one word – OBSERVATION - this is an ongoing process. A child’s behavior is a manifestation of what is in his mind. You record all your observation as accurately as possible – with little or no inferences, interpretations and judgments. Structured observation determines the reasons behind behaviors.

  3. In a stimulation class this behavior is the child’s overt physical behavior as opposed to a child in Grade 5 the observation is the task analysis of the child’s written/ recorded work.

  4. By interacting with the child from day one and continuously a picture of the child’s strengths/weaknesses, likes and dislikes, his abilities and capabilities are grounded. Also remember that settings and context in which observations are made may influence the outcome. [too often learners during initial assessments present differently as to when they are admitted to school.] if in doubt continue with observation until you are confident enough to make a recommendation on the intervention 

  5. Also consider the frequency, duration and intensity of the behavior. You can only make a conclusion when you have observed the behavior over a period of time. A single incident is not the history.

  6. Compare developmental milestones against chronological ones. Are the learners you are observing show parallels with time delays.

  7.  When writing the observations use action words and adjectives to provide sufficient details about the child. Ensure that your observations can be understood by persons across the board. Use of terminology in a medical report is for persons in that profession. You are the conduit between medical, therapy, parent and educational professionals. If any ‘jargon’ used it must be clarified.

  8.   Sometimes, if not once too often, observations are made on economic and cultural pretexts – be aware of these differences. It has a bearing on your observations.

  9. In your reporting

  • avoid being totally negative,  there must be some positive aspect the child presents with.

  • Refrain from diagnosing.

  • Only comment that which is observable.

  • End on a positive note.

  • Providing sufficient detail ensures someone else will read your report and gain meaning from it about the child.


  10. Establishing this point of departure for the child directs one to adapting, adopting and amending the core curriculum and or building aspects into the curriculum. Sometimes some aspects in the curriculum is completing excluded.

  11. Recommendations you make will result in educational sound practices. This ensures how the child learns and or impacts on his learning.


The outcome:


  1. Once we know our child we need to take a look at the curriculum.

  2. What is the curriculum? It is everything that takes place at school, home and out and about – every place, time and context that affects the learning of the child.

  1. Academic Curriculum is bounded by educational policy as stipulated by the CAPS document.

  1. An LSEN curriculum embraces the Caps curriculum but takes into account the major impairments and will include teaching opportunities which will target skill development or remediation in specific areas.

  1. Communication and Language plays an integral part in the learning process. Remember learners with different cultural backgrounds and home languages.

  1. Learning Areas include Literacy, Numeracy communication skills social and play skills and personal and independence skills.

  1. Continuity of the curriculum is essential for the effective delivery of the LSEN curriculum.

  1. Always broaden the settings in which children learn.

  1.  Breaking down tasks into smaller components. Sometimes the sum of the parts are greater than the whole[Gestalt].

  1. An individualized educational plan the backbone of effective curriculum delivery. Each child is unique and different. The focus is on the child’s strengths and addresses the deficits by teaching the skill required step by step. The objective is empower the child against himself.

  1. Remember that the IEP is a complementary and supplementary intervention by a multidisciplinary team. The child is viewed as holistic. It must be specific, measurable realistic and time bound. This must be reviewed as many times as possible.

  1.  Reinforcement and repetition is a cornerstone to progress.

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