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18 February, 2019 00:00 00 AM

Enhance social emotional learning along with cognitive capacity of the children with NDDs

Mst. Rozleen Afsana Biswas
Enhance social emotional learning along with cognitive capacity of the children with NDDs

Neurodevelopmental disorders (NDDs) are indicated by developmental deficits which usually appear at the early age of a child’s development and can run throughout the individual’s lifetime. These neurodevelopmental disorders are responsible for the inappropriate functioning of a person’s emotions, memory, and ability to learn socialization and maintain self-control.

‘Neurodevelopmental disorders are a group of disorders in which the development of the central nervous system is disturbed. This can include developmental brain dysfunction, which can manifest as neuropsychiatric problems or impaired motor function, learning, language or non-verbal communication.’

According to DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), the category of neurodevelopmental disorders includes:

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD),
Communication disorders,
Intellectual developmental disorder,
Motor disorders, and
Specific learning disorders.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) :
According to DSM-V, the   terminology ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder refers to neurodevelomental disorder. Person with ADHD can’t perform according to his/her full potentials which identify in childhood and often carry on into adolescence and adulthood.

ADHD is such a behaviour that causes problems in all areas of life. Children with ADHD are unable to control impulses, have problems in paying attention, in building relationships and have low self-esteem. Children with ADHD often twist their body from side to side, making small movements with their body. They don’t stay seated and are always in moving state, also talk excessively and interrupts others.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD):  
‘Autism Speaks’ has given the definition of autism nicely. However, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelomental disorder which is responsible for the impairment in social and emotional reciprocity; impairment in communications even in using physical gestures and facial expression; impairment in developing and maintaining social relationships. Individuals with autism exhibit repetitive motions or repetitive use of objects or speech, show ritualized behaviour patterns or nonverbal behaviour, have narrow and fixated interests; take sensory input from the environment such as temperature, sounds, and textures.

Communication disorders:
Communication disorder affects an individual's ability to express speech, language and ideas clearly, accurately and effectively with others. The DSM-V includes Language disorder; Speech sound disorder; Stuttering ; Social (pragmatic) communication disorder as communication disorders.

Intellectual developmental disorder:
DSM-V refers intellectual developmental disorder or intellectual disabilities as neurodevelopmental disorders which have deficits in intellectual functioning and in adaptive functioning that hampers the cognitive, social, and adaptability skills of a person which begins in childhood.

Motor disorders:
Motor disorders listed in the neurodevelopmental disorder category in the fifth edition of DSM-V. ‘Motor disorders are disorders of the nervous system that cause abnormal and involuntary movements. They can result from damage to the motor system’. Wikipedia. The seven motor disorders listed in the DSM-5 include, Developmental Coordination Disorder; Stereotypic Movement Disorder; Tourette Syndrome (also called Tourette's disorder); Persistent (chronic) vocal or motor tic disorder; Provisional tic disorder; Other Specified Tic Disorder; Unspecified Tic Disorder.
Specific learning disorders:
Children with specific learning disorders face difficulties   in school and everyday activities in learning specific academic skills, i,e., reading, writing, or arithmetic which are below according to  child's age. There are different types of learning disability. Among them Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, Dysgraphia, Processing Deficits are common.

Though there are no known cures for neurodevelopmental disorders, medication and associated management i,e. therapy treatments, special education can help an individual’s in learning.

‘Learning is the process of acquiring new, or modifying existing, knowledge, behaviours, skills, values, or preferences learning theories describe how students absorb, process, and retain knowledge during learning. Cognitive, emotional, and environmental influences, as well as prior experience, all play a part in how understanding, or a world view, is acquired or changed and knowledge and skills retained’. Wikipedia.

Through a learning process we develop into children, and our bodies become more functional, we learn disproportionate range of skills. That’s why learning is a continuous process that requires past experience and more practice. Specially, the person with NDD’s needs more practice and trial to acquire competency on a specific feature.

Social Emotional Learning:
Neuroscience shows us that there is a direct link between emotions and learning. Studies reported that the social and emotional skills of children that are intimately linked with cognitive development. Classroom climate, caring relationships with teachers and other students, school-family relationships increase students’ desire to learn which the outcome of social emotional learning is. It teaches critical social competencies necessary for cognitive and lifelong adaptability.

Social-emotional learning (SEL), as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) is “the process through which children and adults acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to understand and manage emotions, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions.”

In other words, Social emotional learning helps children to achieve skills of emotional intelligence. Social emotional learning is the complex whole which includes personal competencies and social competencies.   

According to The Pennsylvania State University and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation research brief Social Emotional Learning in Elementary School, “extensive research shows that SEL programmes can promote academic achievement and positive social behaviour, and reduce conduct problems, substance abuse, and emotional distress. Benefits of SEL in the elementary years have been documented in reviews by independent research teams and through meta-analyses which demonstrate the immediate and long-term positive outcomes of well-designed, well-implemented SEL programming.”

Why is Social Emotional Learning is important in school, work place and life  of the person’s with NDD’s:
To build intrapersonal skill so that they can develop self-discipline, self control,  self confidence, self-esteem, decision making capacity , empathy, adaptability.
People with special needs should maintain interpersonal relationships with adults and peers, and to cope in group situations as member of society. In a greater sense it is important to acquire social emotional learning to develop employability skill and to maintain work place relationships.  
Better understanding of their own psychological state, which can help to manage stress effectively.
In classroom setting social emotional learning helps children to reduce problems and not to take inappropriate behaviour and creates safe learning environments.
Helps children to know, understand and manage their emotions.
Young children with NDD’s who are lacking in these skills are at higher risk for difficulties when making the transition into adulthood.
Social emotional learning is a holistic approach to promote positive behaviours including self-monitoring and self regulating behaviour, collaborating with others and making responsible decisions.
Social emotional learning helps children to increased educational achievement.

As persons with NDD’s are mostly vulnerable in communication, intrapersonal communication involves the thought consciously and unconsciously to developed self-knowledge and learns to communicate with oneself.

Elements of emotional learning:
The following elements of social emotional learning have shown according to ‘Working with Emotional Intelligence’ by Daniel Goleman.  
How do special educators teach social emotional learning to the person with special needs?
Special educators usually implement their teaching techniques to teach the elements of social emotional learning. They keep record and evaluate the children with special needs using qualitative research methods which include informal participant interview, participant observation, formal and informal interview of child’s parents or caregivers. Special educators mostly deal with the following areas to improve social emotional skills of the children with special needs.
Handle emotions carefully and teach them emotions
Build rapport and trust. 
Encourage eye-contact for effective communication and to build confidence.
Shape negative behaviors and teach behavior management skills.
Help to make positive decisions.
Give them the environment to care about friends and show interest in others.
Prepare them for socialization and  higher social skills
Develop positive peer relationships.
Help to solve problems.
Practice Role-playing
Anger management.
Work habit and group work.  
Nurture the culture of kindness.
Give them space to say new words.

How to manage conflict with peer.
Practice empathy and caring.
Cope with depression and stress.
 Express wishes, ideas and preferences clearly.
Enhance understanding to others.
Following instructions and improve different type of listening capacity.
Improve oral and sign communication.
Develop social ethical values.
Leisure and recreation.
Accept and appreciating diversity.
Focus on learning.

A Case Study:
Ahmed Saihan, eight years old child with autism has improved his cognitive capacity along with social emotional learning by getting care from IPNA Autism School within two years.
It has been observed that, he listens, follows and maintain the instructions properly and accurately. He often shares his personal items with his other friends. He has improved his self-confidence as well as self-discipline. He knows what to do in classroom settings and in home environment.

He learned to pick his personal items and kept those in proper place. He strictly follows the hygiene rules. He is able to perform task in group and respect the workplace or classroom environment by following rules. He developed his capacity to adjust himself in an uncomfortable environment.

He shares his simple problems with the teachers and the caregivers. He can memorize literature, imitate dialogue, sings songs, draws pictures and prefers to copy different logo. His academic performance has remarkably improved. He can understand the start and end of an assigned task. He can pick the new words from his surroundings. Now he manages his anger and does not hit others anymore.

He plays cooperatively with others by following the game rules. He is able to replay against different type of questions while in conversation. He does not react in sudden changed settings. He has the understanding right and wrong. He can seek help if needed. He respects the elders. It is noted that still he is in shaping condition.         
However, well-developed social emotional skills can be achieved with more practice. When the person with special needs faced problem in decision-making process then they scan through the available choices in their mind and consider each alternatives.

Thus they come to a practical decision for an appropriate manner. Social and emotional learning are significant life skill that impact on their behaviour, learning and wellbeing of the persons with special needs. It also helps them to cope in difficulties and to prevent mental health problems.


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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