Creating Connections: Meeting Students’ Emotional and Spiritual Needs
Blog on July 14 2022
In this series of blogs, we’ve discussed the foundations of the No Limits Method, how to use the Method to assist students with learning and language differences, and how the Method’s resources meet each student’s needs to help them develop physical and cognitive skills. While all aspects of the Method are essential to the promotion of learning for exceptional students, it is equally as important that anyone working with this population understands how living with a disability can affect a student emotionally and impact their learning as well. When we keep this in mind, we are really teaching the whole child and helping our students grow, doing what we can to foster their spirits. This doesn’t have to reflect any specific spirituality. Rather, when meeting students’ spiritual needs, we help them develop their own sense of inherent value and assist them in growing into who they are as individuals.
Understanding the emotional needs of students with disabilities
It is important to understand the emotional challenges that living with a disability can bring about. Living with cerebral palsy, I know that it is not uncommon for people to assume that a person who may be physically disabled is also cognitively disabled. Along my journey of living with cerebral palsy, I have experienced this many times. As an infant, my mom was told by a neurologist that I would never be able to accomplish much in my life, as I have felt the sting of judgements more times than I can count. Today, as a PhD student, I work with a multidisciplinary team of professionals to bring about change for exceptional students on a global scale!
In order to foster the emotional and spiritual well-being of individuals with disabilities, it is important to remember that their disability does not define them. At the same time, we cannot ignore, dismiss, or disengage the challenges that they face. Instead, we should attempt to recognize what a particular person’s challenges are, understand their perspective, and support them in any way possible. As teachers, we have the unique opportunity to change perspectives, challenge ideas, and affect the future for each student we meet. Advocating for our students is paramount, as this can open a world of potential for them.
How the No Limits Method increases motivation for teachers and students
In our previous blog posts, we discussed the importance of physical movement and activity for continued cognitive development. When we adopt a realistic approach to the physical or cognitive difficulties our students have because of their disability, we can better understand and adapt to their needs. This attitude allows teachers and paraprofessionals to effectively collaborate more with others who are also working for the benefit of each student. By adopting a positive outlook and attitude toward the challenges our students face, we are not just teaching them to have a positive outlook, we are making it easier for ourselves and others to understand and advocate for their needs using the resources, strategies, and techniques that the No Limits Method provides!
Unlocking potential through physical and cognitive development
Through the training and resources of the No Limits Method micro-credentialing courses and digital lessons, you will discover ways to unlock the potential in each of your students. As they develop cognitively, physically, and are given new opportunities to communicate, any emotional or behavioral difficulties they may experience can be approached in an improved way to increase motivation. This will also create ease for those working with these students. Further engagement with the world and others through increased physical and cognitive development will promote a sense of belonging in your students, both in and out of the classroom. With this, it should be clear that physical and cognitive development should not be considered separately from social and spiritual development, as one follows from the other instead. The greater sense of belonging to a community (even one as small as a classroom) can promote a sense of value in each student within the community. Their differences are not disadvantages, as each and every student has the potential to grow and learn! Parents, teachers, paraprofessionals, and therapists are catalysts for the continued development and growth of students. This includes spiritual growth, which can be defined as the students’ understanding of their unique value as individuals with purpose and potential.
Nurturing the spiritual growth of students through the No Limits Method
When we foster a student’s spiritual growth, they develop a more positive understanding of themselves as an individual. The qualities that make them different are not negative, but are valuable and worthy of respect. As part of the training provided by the No Limits Method courses and lessons, teachers and other users of the Method will understand that the differences in each student (physical, cognitive, communicative), are not barriers to student learning, but core aspects of each student’s unique way of learning and developing. Once this is understood, the reasoning behind the Method’s collaborative and multi-professional approach becomes even clearer – each student’s unique needs are not a problem to be fixed, but a reality about the individual student.
From my own experience, it has been shown that even professionals fall into certain misconceptions that limit the potential of those with disabilities. If that attitude was taken seriously, I would not have achieved what I have today. Those who worked with and cared about me understood that my potential needed to be fostered, regardless of the challenges posed by my disability. This reality must be understood so that we can work with these differences, rather than against them. With this, we are able to genuinely teach the whole student.
Following the theme of this post, the next blog entry will address the assessment of sensory needs and their effect on behaviors. We look forward to providing some tips and tricks for identifying specific needs. If you would like to learn more about the No Limits Method and preview our micro-credential and digital lessons, please visit www.otis.teq.com.
For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.
We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.