Jun 6, 2019 in Science

Biosocial Development for Children with Special Needs

Children undergo different stages that lead them through the development of gross motor skills, fine motor skills, social, emotional and cognitive capabilities.Since childhood phase forms the base for human moral growth, it is important that the society develops structure, which would allow parents the guidance towards the comprehension of various development periods and theories of children moral and social enhancement. Notably, these stages in human being begin in the childhood stage, which serves as a clear indication that the childhood deserves some keen studies to establish various aspects involved throughout its establishment. Consequently, knowledge of the fact that developmental disorders and their symptoms vary from child to child and depend on the age is crucial in designing programs meant to assist children. This paper analyses the biosocial development in children with special needs.


The term specialneeds is used in describing children whose development differs from the norm.Accordingly, ithas influenced the quality of their experiences, learning opportunities, and social relationships. Some special conditionscan be identified before or soon after birth,others, like heart disorder or a visual/hearing impairments, become apparent later in life.Therefore, biosocial development is designed to include all of the changes that occur in a person’s body and mind, along with the genetic, nutritional and health factors that affect them (Ezhovkina & Ryabova, 2015). Social and cultural factors that influence these areas are considered a part of biosocial development, and namely include the duration of breastfeeding, specialized education, ideal body shape attitude and health habits that can extend or shorten a human life.

Social-Cognitive Development of Children with Special Needs

Social cognition is the ability to recognize, manipulate and behave with respect to socially relevant information. It also includes the ability to construct representations and relationships between a person and society, adapting to the rules that guide social behavior (Carey, Crocker, Coleman, Elias, & Feldman, 2009). Studies have suggested that development of the social cognitive skills takes place at different stages of an individual life and startsin childhood. Accordingly, a child hasa distinct perception of the surrounding world during those stages, and it influencesthe way they interact. Preschool age (2-6 years) is considered to be a milestone age in terms of social cognitive development (Carey et al., 2009). Preschoolers obtain the main ability connected to it, as they understand the feelings of others, thus,serve as an example of how children play an active role in their social cognitive development. They attempt to understand, find meaning and explain the events in the society around them. All in all, even though they tend to be able to manipulate, construct and predict situations, this age bracket has limited social cognitive skills (Carey et al., 2009).

In an attempt to understand the development of social cognitive skills in this age group, scholars have pointed out the involvement of the two overlapping foci. Thus, social cognition is the ability of a child to understand the social and emotional meanings of other peoples’ behavior, whereas a theory of the mind focuses on the development of an understanding of another person’s state of mind. Understanding the mind of others helps children anticipate the forthcoming behavior, which is influenced by the state of the mind (Carey et al., 2009).Piaget referred to the cognitive development occurring between the ages of 2 and 7 as the preoperational stage (Rathus, 2011). This stage is characterized by children being able to imitate adult behavior, increase their communication skills and appreciate the wonders of language. Moreover, the levels of their interaction and play behavior significantlyincrease, widening the social spectrum (Rathus, 2011). In addition, this age group entertainmentis associated with acting out a family life within peers, creating imaginary games and friends(Seifert, 2006).

This age bracket is described by Piaget in terms of their limitations. He claims that, as their social spectrum broadens, a standing aspect of this age group is their inability to differentiate reality from imagination or fantasy. Preschoolers can be easily misled as they have a much focused sense of observation that does not involve rational reasoning (Rathus, 2011). In other words, they would associate a father with what he wears, thus,they can be easily deceived when he wears female clothes. Furthermore, they apply their sense of imagination to the real world and expect them to relate. For example, they can ask their parents to take them out and make them fly like a bird.Additionally, preschoolers have limited judgment and describe othersin accordance to their outward look, asthe attachment of emotions and feelings to describe a person is rather limited: the harsh neighbor or the pleasant lady would be an observation of a higher level, instead they can easily say that the lady is wearing a red dress or the boy has a blue shirt. It occurs due to their most dominant developed skill, which is the fascination with colors and objects,that is being related to the environment. Sometimes, children can also apply some imagination in their description, for instance, say that a man was tall as a tree or a building (Seifert, 2006).


In time, preschoolers learn how to communicate their thoughts and feelings to others. Another significant social cognitive skill that they develop is the ability to predict other peoples’ thoughts and intentions based on distinguishing the different types of feelings that they attach to certain actions. As it triggers their ability of empathy that leads to behaviors like soothing and offering help.They become able to observepain in another being, predict the reaction, which would usually be crying, and, hence, soothe them or offer sympathy. A preschool child can understand when an adult is angry and attach that to punishment or yelling (Carey et al., 2009).

At some point, preschool children start to develop a broader scope of social interaction, enhanced by their developed communication skills and their ability to express their emotions and feelings. Nonetheless, Piaget suggested that their social cognitive abilities are limited by their nature of being egocentric. It means that they have difficulty in distinguishing their point of view and another person’s point of view. It influences how they describe people, their feelings and their comprehension of friendship (Rathus, 2011).Their nature of being self-centered makes them define and describe relationship with their peers based on common playing tastes. The playing group tends to acquire a small size because of their limited scope of interaction, but according to them, friendship is based on availability and shared interests. By the way, there is a thin distinction between gender friendships as it holds no difference to the children of this age bracket (Osorio Mejía, 2013).With the development of the cognitive communication skills and the ability to distinguish the feelings and emotions, preschoolers are able to understand social rules and different settings of relationships. They learn to process social information that requires monitoring and self-regulation and have the ability to modify their behavior to conform to the required norms, hence, leaving the egotistic purposes out of the scope. It is influenced by their understanding of the social perceptions and human expressions, which they interpret due to their intentions and , therefore, adjust (Carey et al., 2009).

Their ability to construct narratives that reflect their social cognitive development in situations overshadowed with emotions or conflicts shows their ability to understand the society’s rules the repercussions involved (Seifert, 2006). A preschooler is capable of understanding that when she tears her dress, her mother will be cross, or, when she breaks the father’s phone, he will be very angry. It prompts them at times to produce stories, which are always accompanied by imaginative objects.Cognitivist theory tends to look at the learning process by trying to establish what happens in the mind of children through its course. Such theory focuses on the internal mental activities of a child, commonly referred to as opening the black box of the human mind. Consequently, it is a valuable asset in trying to establish how people learn, as, according to the theory, the mental processes include thinking, memory, knowing and problem solving of any kind.Moreover, itconnects a moral development or reason with the thinking abilities of a child and recognizes the fact that children undergo various stages of developments, namely, preschoolers, six-year-old and ten-year-old will behave and reason differently. It is important to note that every environment of children’s development is under the influence of the aspects of this theory. For example,the study of how children develop or learn to follow rules in a free environment,as a playing ground, allows for the theory to present an important hierarchy of learning steps and different stages of their growth.

Moral Development in Children with Special Needs 

A child’s moral development is a learning process that involves a keen observation of the surrounding environment. The factors presented in the environment of a children’s area of stay or play will determine a number and a quality of behaviors (Cardwell & Flanagan, 2004). Moral development in children is considered to be an object of study of several theories, which include social learning theory, cognitive development theories and behaviorist theories. In most aspects each of them is aimed to explain how children absorb and develop various behaviors and characters. Subsequently, through applicationof the various theories, this study will analyze how children exploit their skills to learn distinct aspects of the rules within the society.

Symptoms of learning disorders also vary with the age of a child. Common signs of learning disorders among pre-school children include: difficulty pronouncing words, problem finding the right word, problems with rhyming words, and difficulty in learning the alphabet among other symptoms. Symptoms of learning disorders among children between the ages of 5 to 9 years include: problems learning connection between sounds and letters; inability to blend sounds in order to come up with words; constant problem with spelling; slow in learning new skills; problems in learning basic math concepts; and problems with time and sequences among other problems (Fink,  Deighton,Humphrey & Wolpert, 2015).

Verbal assistance is important in helping children with learning disabilities. For instance, these children can be provided with audio tapes of books whenever possible. Having a study buddy that can read to students with learning disabilities is also another form of audio assistance It is also important to integrate audio with text visual in order to make it more effective. Children with learning disability also face a great challenge in math. One of the ways of helping children with disabilities learn math is by making it concrete.

The Ways Children with special needs Learn Various Rules of the Society

Every community in the world operates under a set of regulations, either in formal or in informal form. Theyare not only applied to directional operation of the society, but to its particular parts, one of which ischildren acting in various association fields such as schools, playgrounds and homes. These fields offer different environments for the children,accordingly,diverse theories will be used in helping them adjust to changeable rules. Children with special needs just like the other children aare an important part of the society,in both current and future aspects, so they are expected to exploit some common virtues, to grow in amoral situation (Nanda & Warms, 2011: Kostelnik, 2012: Andersen & Taylor, 2006) and adoptlearning and application of social rules. Surprisingly, no matter the obligations within those environments to be simple or complex, the research shows children to grow up with good knowledge, hence, the smooth relationship with fellow children, parents and teachers.

Social Learning Theory and Children’s Adoption of Rules

This doctrine is based on modeling, thus, it considers that, in most cases, children learn how to behave according to some directions or simulation. The theory stresses the fact that their moral development can be assisted using a number of modelingapproaches. According to it, to ensure the moral growth of a child, it is important that any appropriate behavior is followed by positive reinforcement, so as to make sure the behavior is encouraged. It is believed that a child will respond positively to a reward or a praise, thus leading to the conversion of the good behavior into character. However, the theory also recognizes the fact that children have or practice some inappropriate behaviors at a tender age. Furthermore, it suggests that these kinds of conduct should be followed by punishments, so as to avoid future repetitions. In most cases the preferable punishments are time outs and withdrawals of privileges, which are implementedin order to help a child understand the level of inappropriateness of their actions.

According to the research,the above theory on both positive and negative children’sbehaviors,is suggested as the most suitable in helping children learn or adopt various rules in school and family environment. In school, a set of rules is designed to help shape theiractions and assist them to grow into responsible and morally upright individuals. It is, therefore, important that such rules are introduced to children, and given room to practice or adhere to them. In most cases, the school environment offersregulations in written form and expects them to implement them on their own, it is at this point that the adherence or its failure would expose the implications of future behavior in children. At such times, the teacher or any other caretaker is required to enter and provide various reinforcements such as rewards, praises to help in encouraging those struggling to get back on the right path. Otherwise, those performing poorlywould be exposed to punishments, directing them towards the behavior of adherence. By an exploitation ofsuch methods each child is estimated to grow in line with the rules, thus confirming a moral development through social learning theory. In addition, it should not only be applied in the school environment, but also in the family, where parents are expected to provide for the reinforcement or punishment.

Another stage that can be used to explain the moral development,according to the mentioned theory is when a child reaches the age of around six years. During this period one has already experienced some development and it ismore effectivein terms of thinking ability, in contrast to the preschool stage (Lansford, et al, 2012). Hereby, children with special needs  tend to develop some strict adherence and disapprove any changes on any role, as their mentality dictates that rules are to be used in the exact form and manner. It is accompanied by a lot of compliance and inflexibility in terms of rules following in the playing environment (Oldfield, Humphrey,& Hebron, 2015). It is at this moment, when the virtue of understanding the regulations in their exact form is developed. However, at the age of above six till ten, the moral development of children decreases in terms of rate and way of thinking. It is believed that this is when children deploy the manipulative skills to make different rules fit their conditions. Thus, the reasoning capacity of children grows high and a number of various behaviors are developed in this phase.

Special Needs in a Child’s Development

Development of learning disabilities varies from one child to another, as onemay struggle with spelling and reading, while another may like reading, but have difficulty in understanding mathematics, and a third may have problemscomprehending what other people are saying (Bob Gates & Atherton, 2007). It means that the solutions designed to assist children with learning disabilities should be altered to meet the needs of every child. Learning disabilities are sometimes problematic to identify due to their variation, as there is no single sign that can be taken as proof of a learning disability. However, there are some signs that indicate that a child has a learning disorder.

Managing children’s behavior is the crucial responsibility of the parents as it defines the child’s future interaction within the society (Lansford, et al, 2012). During its process the parent or caretaker must be ready to offer punishment for poor performance and, at the same time, make efforts of appreciating the progress (Mengoni& Oates, 2014). Moreover, it is considered a great indication of concern as when helping children develop social morals applicable to their future lives.

Furthermore, it is important for a parent or a caretaker to create good examples that would offera better observation arena for a child with a special need. It is in line with the behaviorist theory that proclaimsthat children develop various morals through observation. The practitioners are expected to display great concern for a child’s development by ensuring that children are exposed to healthy observation environments. Although it might be complicated in suchsurroundings to present some health observations, it is important to give a direction to children on major subjects.

Knowledge of the fact that special needs  vary from child to child, and symptoms vary with age is important in designing programs meant to assist children with learning disabilities. This is because it enables accurate diagnosis and tailoring of the learning program to addresses the needs of every child.


There are several strategies that can be applied in trying to define a child’s future behavior. These strategies are able to affect the child’s behavior positively or negatively, depending on the methods exploited. Overall, their basis lies on the same ground, as they all consider that in inflicting order it is very important to begin from the root cause of the indiscipline case, whichalways starts from the level of decision making. Proactive strategy is very useful in ensuring that a child understands what is expected of them and how their actions are going to reflect to their parents. As much as a proactive strategy plays a part in instilling discipline among children, it is not able to contain all cases, hence other strategies need to be employed to alleviate the misdirections.

Another strategy that can be employed in instilling discipline to children is reasoning.Rational reasoning involves a parent conversing with a child: first, the problem is addressed and made clear,then solutions are offered and chosen. Children always want to have it their way, like when they want to have a certain dangerous gadget and get denied, a child will cry, employ all kinds of attention seeking activities. This kind of scenario can be handled by being rational and reasonable with a child, as a key is to make the reason for denial clear; then a solution should be reached together, so a child would feel the shared responsibility and care.

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