It is really important that when we are working with children with special needs that we think about age appropriate materials. There are times that this is called
“ Normalization” as it is insuring that we are exposing and allowing the person with disabilities to experience the same opportunities as their peers.
It is better to adapt an activity or material so that a child can participate rather than restrict a child. If one only gives the child with a disability what might be in their developmental level we are further increasing the gap between them and their peers. People will continue to treat the person as a child, which again may further restrict the level of independence that will be fostered with the child.
There is nothing sadder than an adult with disabilities not being successful at a job not because they cannot do the job requirements but rather they are unable to negotiate the social interactions at the job. There is no one in a break room talking about Barney episodes or singing Raffi songs.
If a child around that age would not use an activity, book, or material then it is inappropriate to use it with a child with a disability. That given it needs to be recognized that there may need to be adaption of the materials, an increase in time that the person may need to complete the task or an increase in the support that needs to be built into the activity.
This might also mean that you need to assist the person with disabilities to take a passion they have and interact with in in an age appropriate way. In other words there are some children that may have a passion for trains. Most children outgrow this but there are also adults that enjoy the hobby of train building. So you assist the child, as he gets older to begin to have a “collection”
If we do not expose the child to new activities and hobbies we are denying them the ability to develop other leisure skills.
There are a variety of resources available that have adapted books, activities and lesson plans. I have listed a few here to assist you.
Excellent resource for adapting books
How to make assessable materials create your own (must own hard copy to use)
http://tarheelreader.org/ – Ready to use or can be downloaded and modified
New York City Department of Education – http://schools.nyc.gov/Offices/District75/Departments/
Literacy/AdaptedBooks/default.htm Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities –
¢Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs (PowerPoint Switch Books)