During middle childhood -- between 6- and 12-years-old -- kids are developing more sophisticated cognitive, social, emotional and motor skills that will help them gain self-confidence, master academic knowledge and conquer behavioral issues during the grade school years. Although children can have special needs at any age, the middle childhood period marks a time when school and social pressures begin to punctuate learning, behavioral and physical difficulties or delays.
Speech and Communication Issues
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association notes that communication disabilities such as speech and hearing issues are some of the most common disorders found in children and adults. According to the educational experts at Learning Seed, between 3 percent and 5 percent of children in the middle childhood period have some form of a speech-type special need. ASHA's statistics on childhood communication disabilities show that more than 1.4 million school children in the U.S. -- as of 2003 -- participated in speech or language assistance services. These disabilities that children in middle childhood might face include an array of issues such as stuttering, voice disorders, including hoarseness, and hearing loss or difficulties. During the elementary years, these disabilities can have a serious effect on the child's ability to communicate in the social arena and maintain adequate understanding at school.
Learning Disorders and Delays
As children move into the middle childhood years, the academic expectations begin to grow. Learning disorders and special needs might become visible in the face of increased scholastic requirements such as homework or standardized testing. Learning disorders encompass an array of cognitive delays and might include problems reading, writing or doing math problems. Reading disorders -- according to the mental health professionals at Seven County Services -- affect roughly 20 percent of school-age students. These disorders might include dyslexia -- reading letters and words backward -- problems with comprehension or issues in accurately identifying and recognizing words. Children who have trouble in mathematics that goes above and beyond typical computational errors might have the learning disorder known as dyscalculia.
Attention and Focusing Needs
Unlike toddlers and preschoolers -- who have a normal amount of inattentiveness -- children in the middle childhood period who can't sit still or focus for extend periods might have attention or hyperactivity disorders. The American Academy of Pediatrics, on its Healthy Children website, notes that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders are impulsive and inattentive beyond what is expected for their age. During middle childhood, ADHD can affect the child's ability to learn, behave in an appropriate manner at school or finish homework.
During middle childhood, special needs aren't confined to mental or emotional types of disorders. Kids who have physical disabilities such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida might have difficulties keeping up with their classmates when it comes to motor actions such as getting from class to class and more complex tasks such as athletics. For example, children with spina bifida might have muscle weakness that prevents them from starting team sports or even walking up the stairs at school.
- Learning Seed: Middle Childhood
- American Speech-Language-Hearing Association: Incidence and Prevalence of Communication Disorders and Hearing Loss in Children- 2008 Edition
- Seven County Services: Disorders of Children: Learning Disorders
- KidsHealth: Learning Problems
- HealthyChildren.org: Defining ADHD
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