11 Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities


This article is based on the upcoming Helping Students with Disabilities Succeed course being developed for Atomic Learning by Dr. Theresa Kiley, a former Associate Professor at Argosy University and Western Illinois University, published author, and education conference keynote speaker.  (More about Dr. Kiley.)

Working with students with disabilities can be rewarding, yet challenging. In many situations, a student’s disability is not easily observed. To add to the difficulty, there are a variety of disabilities that general education teachers can often encounter. Regardless, preparing to teach students with disabilities and diverse characteristics is essential for all educators.  Schools must provide academic opportunities for these students that are equivalent to those provided for their nondisabled peers.

To help, here are eleven strategies to help teachers support students with disabilities:

ADD/ADHD

As the number of individuals being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD continues to rise, the need for lessons that are accessible for all students is also increasing. We invite you to consider these suggestions developed by Universal Design:

  1. Provide important information in both oral and written formats.
     
  2. Provide printed materials early in the course to allow students time to read the texts and reference any available software.
     
  3. Avoid last-minute assignment or additional assignments after distributing the course syllabus.

Memory Loss

Memory problems associated with learning disabilities can interfere with storage of new information, as well as the ability to retrieve that information at a later time. In order to assist students with memory issues, here are a few suggested strategies:

  1. Allow students to access memory devices such as lists of background information (e.g., formulas or dates) to be used in problem solving or essay writing.
     
  2. Have students create realistic timelines when studying for tests. Test dates should be listed on a large wall calendar and dates and times reserved for studying should be clearly visible.

Executive Functioning

A few characteristics of students who struggle with executive functioning would be poor time management and planning skills. They may also struggle with paying attention and staying focused. Here are a few strategies to help overcome these barriers:

  1. Help students develop effective schedules that allow them to monitor task completion.  Avoiding procrastination is key.

Concerned About Accessibility in Your District?

With October being Disabilities Awareness Month, it's a reminder to teachers and administrators to take the proper steps to ensure your district is barrier-free.  Luckily for you, Atomic Learning has 508 and WCAG compliant resources to help. We've gathered a list of quick training resources on the software that you're probably already using. These might help get your accessibility juices flowing:

Special Education Complaints Set a Record

A recent EdWeek blog article reflects on a report from the US Department of Education's office regarding an increase in complaints about special education, setting a record for having received more complaints than ever before in a three-year period. The article states: