The term ‘exceptional’ is defined in different ways by different people. Some refer to very bright child as an exceptional child while some refer the dull child as an exceptional child. Many times the term ‘exceptional’ is accepted to mean the handicapped child.
Generally it has been said that the child who has a physical handicap such as crippled condition, deafness, blindness or the child who deviates mentally being too bright or very dull i.e., mentally retailed or the child that is maladjusted or emotionally disturbed is treated as an exceptional child.
An exceptional child is he who deviates from the normal or average child in mental, physical and social characteristics to such an extent that he requires a modification of school practices or special education services in order to develop to his maximum capacity.
In the words of Barbed, the word ‘exceptional’ refers to children who differ from the average to such an extent that their differences warrant some type of special school adjustment either within regular class-room or in special class.
It includes both, those children whose differences make them unable to perform upto the level of average as well as those whose differences allow them to perform above the average.
According to W.M. Cruichshant, “An exceptional child is he who deviates physically, intellectually, socially and emotionally so markedly from normal growth and development that he cannot benefit from a regular class-room programme and needs special treatment in school.”
Based on all the above definitions a definition can be worked out. A child is educationally exceptional if his deviation is of such kind and degree that it interferes with his development under ordinary class-room procedures and necessitates special education either in conjunction with the regular class or in a special class or school for his maximum development.
It is to be realised that the difference of exceptional children is only one of degree, they are more like other children and so should be treated first of all as children who need to express their individuality and then adjustment made to their difference.
Types of Exceptional Children
1. Intellectually exceptional the gifted and creative
I. the slow learner
II. educable mentally retarded
III. severally mentally retarded
2. Physically exceptional impaired vision
I. Impaired hearing
II. Impaired speech
IV. Brain injured
3. Emotionally exceptional Delinquents
4. Multi Handicapped Children who have more than
Needs of Exceptional Children
Exceptional children need special education services which embody the three elements-
(a) Trained professional personnel-teachers, consultants, physiotherapists speech therapists etc.
(b) Facilities including special building features, special equipment, special extra literary materials and special crafts.
(c) Special curricular content suiting different areas of exceptionality, mental retardation, giftedness, deafness, blindness, speech retardation, social and emotional maladjustment.
Special education is thus concerned with the identification of and provision for children unlike the average whether this is in the regular class-room, special class-room or in a combination of both.