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Supporting Neurodivergent Children In Child Care

By: Leigh Reveno

Early childhood educators are top-notch when it comes to rolling with the punches. We love and care for the children in our group and strive to see each child as a unique individual with different traits and characteristics. All children have different needs and require individualized care and attention in an early childhood setting.

HOWEVER, many ECE professionals are hesitant to work with neurodivergent children or children with physical differences for fear that they will not be able to provide for them in the classroom adequately. While this may be true for some children with extreme physical limitations that require special certification, welcoming children who may think differently or have some physical differences with the right supports in place can be a wonderful experience for the entire classroom community.

What To Consider and Communicate 

When a family with a child that learns differently comes to you, there are several things to consider as you would with any family.

  • It is important to speak honestly with the family about how your program works and ask lots of questions about their child’s specific needs and unique learning styles.
  • You may want to ask what support is available to you while the child is in your care.
  • Consider things like program fit, age, previous care, schedule, etc., as you usually would.
  • Think about what modifications you need to make to your program to serve this child best, some of these modifications other children may enjoy too such as additional sensory play.
  • Additionally, you can learn with parents about what additional resources and specialists are available to them that offer 1:1 therapy for the child.

What To Know About Children’s Rights and Program Accommodation

Keep in mind that laws protect children’s rights with special needs, and you should be familiar with them as you begin to work with families. Parents will likely be more than willing to communicate openly about their child and be excited to partner with you to give them the best possible experience in your care. Providers should understand that it is not legal to deny childcare for special needs children unless the modifications required would significantly alter your existing program, i.e., if it is necessary to hire an additional teacher solely for the child.

Embrace The Opportunities To Learn Together and Think Differently

Once the child is in your program, work closely with the family and other professionals involved in their care to learn more about them and how they learn. Remember that diversity in ability, whether by age, biology or development, allows children to learn empathy and patience and provide a rich understanding of the similarities and differences of people in the world around them.

Want To Learn More About This Topic?

Join Leigh for a live discussion on Neurodivergent Learner Styles In Child Care on Saturday, February 8th, 2022.

To register click here Wonder + Connect.




Wonderschool is a network of quality in-home early childhood programs. Our mission is to ensure that every child has access to a home away from home that helps them realize their full potential. We work with experienced educators and child care providers to help them start their own child care or preschool out of their homes, whether they live in apartments, condos, or homes that they rent or own.