The learning experiences of persons with special needs and disabilities can be so challenging, especially if appropriate teaching strategies are not applied to them. Students with these special needs will tend to have limited abilities and would exhibit various complications when it comes to learning and socialization.
For example, some are able to incorporate what they have learned in real-life situations, while others possess special learning needs that would require more structured learning environments. This paper examines some of the most appropriate teaching strategies for children with various special needs and disabilities.
Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
Teachers of students with emotional and behavioral disorders usually face numerous challenges in their daily duties of helping the children achieve their learning needs. However, there are various strategies that can be used to help these children attain their goals and learning objectives in the classroom. One effective strategy here is by allowing the learners to express themselves freely in class whenever it is necessary (Wehby, Lane & Falk, 2003).
Giving the children opportunities to explain to others how they are affected by their disabilities and how they prefer to be treated is a good way of appreciating and respecting them. This helps to facilitate effective communication between them and their teachers and peers in the classroom. This enables teachers to understand the students better, thus coming up with the most suitable interventions for them.
Teachers are crucial in helping students with emotional and behavioral disorders develop effective collaborative teams with regular students in the school. This promotes effective learning experience, thus enhancing the educational development of the students.
These interactions can also bear peer-mediated interventions that can be helpful to learners with emotional and behavioral disorders. More importantly, teachers tend to have a direct experience with students and are able to monitor their behaviors closely to identify the most suitable accommodations and modifications for them.
Physical disabilities would include conditions such as missing limbs, muscular dystrophy, and cerebral palsy (Kirk, Gallagher, Coleman & Anastasiow, 2011). There are various strategies that can be applied to help students with physical disabilities achieve their learning needs. One of the most effective approaches is by identifying the learning weaknesses and strengths of a student in the classroom.
Through this strategy, teachers are able to establish the right teaching interventions for the students, thus helping them achieve their learning needs. It is also important to incorporate into the lessons examples of disabled people who have excelled in life regardless of their disabilities, as a way of motivating the students.
In order to successfully enhance the abilities of students with physical disabilities, teachers must familiarize themselves with various assistive technologies for various disabilities. More importantly, they should ensure that all students are involved in the learning activities as a way of promoting understanding among the children with disabilities.
For students with these complications, teachers must involve teaching strategies that can accommodate them well in the classroom. For example, in the case of HIV, learners are prone to neurologic conditions as the disease advances. However, it is important for teachers to remember that it is illegal to reveal the status of an individual without parents’ approval.
For asthmatic students, educators should collaborate with parents to establish effective lesson plans. Moreover, students suffering from this condition should be allowed to bring their inhalers into the classroom.
Worksheets, calculators, and tape recording lectures should be made available for leukemia survivors who are likely to suffer from nonverbal learning disabilities. Teachers should also be well informed on how to give first aid for various seizure disorders.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Children suffering from this condition are exposed to various long-term complications. Common characteristics of the condition include difficulties in concentration, memory, and following instructions. There are various teaching strategies that would be suitable for learners with this condition. For example, teachers can apply nonverbal cues and signals to constantly remind the learners about concentration.
More importantly, work can be divided into smaller units to make it easier for learners to handle. In order to help the students understand the lessons better, teachers should summarize information and repeat it frequently for them to memorize (Glang et al., 2008).
In regard to difficulties in following instructions, teachers can provide both oral and written instructions to the learners, as a way of enhancing their understanding. Behavior modification techniques can also aid learners suffering from traumatic brain injury cope with various learning disabilities in the classroom.
Nurturing self-esteem and self-determination among disabled students
To nurture the self-esteem and self determination of exceptional students, teachers should always ensure that the students are well accommodated in class. This can be achieved through several ways that include respecting the learners and giving them opportunities to take part in classroom affairs. Teachers should also pay special attention to the needs of the students, and assist them in achieving their learning needs using appropriate interventions.
Regular encouragement and inspiration can also help to nurture the self-esteem and self-determination of exceptional students. It is also necessary for the students to be exposed to self-advocacy skills so that they can be able to express themselves in a straightforward way. Self-efficacy is an essential element which enables children with special needs to communicate their desires freely (Shogren & Turnbull, 2006).
Enhancing classroom relationships between regular students and disabled students
It is not easy for students with disabilities to study comfortably in general education classrooms. In fact, many regular students would find difficulty to interact with students with disabilities. This is likely to result in increased pressures that can further complicate the learning needs of the exceptional students. To avoid such embarrassing situations, teachers should help regular students understand their peers with disabilities better.
Moreover, teachers should always ensure that good relationships are established between regular students and students with disabilities. One way of achieving this objective is by helping the regular students understand various types of disabilities, and how they tend to occur.
It will also be important to help regular students understand that disabled persons are dependent on other people in many ways and that it is the responsibility of the able-bodied students to help them make a difference in their lives.
IEP meeting of a student with special needs
I had the opportunity to attend an IEP meeting for a student who had been identified with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD). Being a close relative of the student, I was invited by her parents to help them and the other parties involved in the activity come up with the most appropriate interventions for him. The meeting was held at Forest Hill Elementary school, where Hillary undertakes her studies as a grade 2 student.
The findings of previous stages of the IEP program had confirmed the child to be suffering from the identified behavior problem, thus finding him eligible for special education and related interventions. The child’s placement was then decided and a suitable Individualized Education Program (IEP) that will effectively address her disability was drafted.
Some of the information contained in the IEP included the child’s recent performance at school, annual achievements or goals, necessary programs and services, participation with other regular learners, transition service needs, and evaluation progress. The parents could not hesitate to express their gratification from the resolutions reached the IEP meeting, thus paving way for the child to start receiving relevant services with immediate effect.
Glang, A., Ylvisaker, M., Stein, M., Ehlhardt, L., Todis, B., & Tyler, J. (2008). Validated instructional practices: Application to students with traumatic brain injury. The Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 23(4), 243-251.
Kirk, S., Gallagher, J., Coleman, M., & Anastasiow, N. (2011). Educating exceptional children. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.
Shogren, K. A., & Turnbull, A. P. (2006). Promoting self-determination in young children with disabilities: The critical role of families. Infants & Young Children, 19(4), 338-352.
Wehby, J. H., Lane, K. L., & Falk, K. B. (2003). Academic instruction for students with emotional and behavioral disorders. Journal of Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, 11(4), 194-197.