As the rate of students with learning disabilities increase, it is important for teachers to know proper techniques for teaching students with learning disabilities. However, you do not need to be a licensed doctor to implement strategies in your classroom. Whether you are dealing with a disruptive student or a quiet reserved student, understanding any learning disabilities in your classroom is beneficial to the success of your students.
A learning disability refers to underdeveloped skill in one or more areas, usually related to neurological disorders, and applies to students whose intelligence level is average or above. Students who are intellectually or developmentally disabled (IDD) have below-average intelligence, which affects their ability to learn. Students with learning disabilities can learn but consistently perform below the level of their intelligence. The most common learning disabilities include autistic spectrum disorders which include autism, atypical autism, Rett syndrome, and childhood disintegrative disorder, obsessive-compulsive behavior (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Tourette syndrome.
Learning disabilities may include problems with perception of space or sounds, or of numbers or letters (dyscalculia and dyslexia); forming letters (dysgraphia); processing memory; attention disorders; motor coordination; following verbal directions; or separating literal from metaphorical ideas. Most of these students can learn strategies and techniques to compensate for their underdeveloped skills.
Teachers may introduce various techniques, such as the following to help students succeed:
1. During a test, allow students to block distractions with earplugs.
2. Use a large-print version of a test or novel.
3. Make use of assitive technology.
4. Use graphic organizers to present information.
5. Repeat written instructions aloud.
6. Allow students to take parts of a test separately.
7. Break down parts of a project into smaller assignments.
8. Use teacher notes and outlines of lectures, sequential information, visuals, and alternative exam formats.
It is a disservice to underestimate the intelligence and potential for success of students with a learning disability and other disabilities. Learning disabilities are not indicative of low intelligence. Some of the most daunting disabilities have been overcome by some of the world’s most successful people. Galileo had a visual impairment. Elton John has epilepsy. James Earl Jones had a speech impediment. John F. Kennedy had a learning disability. Howard Hughes had OCD, as does David Beckham. Winston Churchill and Teddy Roosevelt suffered from bipolar disorder, as do Buzz Aldrin and Jim Carrey.
We do not know who will be the next famous individual but as Educators, we can continue to teach our students in ways that they learn best. As you create your next lesson plan, remember to incorporate some of these techniques for your students with learning disabilities.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.