Discussion: One of the real challenges with children with special needs is grappling with how you help them master reflective, analytic thinking – seeing the big picture and making inferences.

In studies comparing children with autism to children without autism, who are matched for IQ, the separating factor isn’t academics.

“What separates special needs populations from non-special needs populations is the ability to think at a highly reflective level,” points our Dr. Greenspan.

He continues: “What separates them is the ability to engage in reciprocal interchanges and back and forth communication, as well as the pragmatic use of language, and the capacity for theory of mind tasks and empathy.”

If we look only at educational achievements when assessing how successful an intervention strategy is, we will be misled; it will look as if the child is making strides, but in reality, “they can’t cope with the real world,” Dr. Greenspan observes.

The special needs population will have more difficulty making friends, creating new ideas and making inferences. Academic gains are important, but we want to encourage the development of higher level thinking skills. All children with special needs need a language curriculum that can help them with higher level thinking skills. “We need to be able to offer the appropriate programs,” notes Dr. Greenspan.

For instance, all children with special needs need a language curriculum that encourages meaningful and purposeful communication. “We can do a lot better by these children,” he adds.

To learn more about Dr. Greenspan’s intervention strategies and methods for encouraging higher level thinking skills, consider registering for our parent or professional course.

Learn more about Dr. Stanley Greenspan and the Greenspan Floortime approach. If you are new, we have a background and introduction to Greenspan Floortime including how it helps special needs children. We also have Greenspan Floortime training courses at Floortime U. specifically designed for parents and professionals including the Floortime Manual.