The term “exceptional child” is an umbrella phrase that refers to children with physical disabilities, sensory impairments and behavior and/or learning difficulties. A child may be categorized as an exceptional child if he displays symptoms of Autism, ADHD, mental retardation, epilepsy, Cerebral Palsy, Multiple Sclerosis, Williams Syndrome, traumatic brain injury, etc. A child that excels at any particular activity more than an average child is also considered a gifted exceptional child. It is important to remember that not one single symptom is proof of an exceptional child.
Characteristics that physically define an exceptional child vary depending on what condition the child has and to what degree. Some physical signs include sporadic hand flapping, rocking, lack of body control, hyperactivity, blindness or other visual impairments, brain structure variance, difficulties pronouncing words, hearing problems, dyslexia, differences in body structure and a lower threshold for sensory overload.
Characteristics of Specific Conditions
Many exceptional children are diagnosed with specific conditions such as autism, intellectual disability and cerebral palsy. Some physical symptoms of these conditions include larger head size, eating difficulties, poor bladder control and bowel functions, pointing to objects instead of asking for them, long periods of inattentiveness or hyperactivity (running in a chaotic manner for long periods of time and then suddenly sitting and staring into space), irregular blood circulation, awkward movements or complete loss of muscle control, inability to conduct simple movements such as using a fork but may also have exceptional abilities to play instruments or draw at a great capacity. Other physical characteristics include large eyes and ears, speech and language problems, low muscle tone, pale skin, slow physical development and shortness in stature, head banging or shaking, lack of eye contact, uneven gait, repetitive behavior and unresponsiveness.
Physical Characteristics of Genetic Conditions
An example of a genetic condition is Williams Syndrome which one out of 10,000 children are diagnosed with. Characteristics of Williams Syndrome and other genetic conditions include intellectual disability, heart problems, low birth rate as well as difficulty increasing body weight. Facial features may also vary with exceptional children in the form of small chins, wide mouths, full lips, widely spaced teeth and small upturned noses.
A gifted child most often does not appear any different than other children. It is the way in which they conduct themselves in daily activities that sets them apart from the rest. Gifted children are more widely known for possessing unmatched reasoning skills and intellectual capacity; however, many gifted children have been known for their advanced physical capabilities. Particularly when it comes to playing musical instruments and certain types of sports, gifted children excel in hand-eye coordination, speed and accuracy.