Teacher's Page


Disability Categories


The following links has been gathered from a variety of Web sources and are organized by disability. The links consist of information and ideas that can be used to teach your special needs student in the general education classroom.   All suggestions do not work with all students.

Resources and Lesson Plans: Students with disabilities are, first and foremost, students. They have many more similarities to other students than they do differences. Although some students with disabilities present genuine instructional challenges, they learn well with appropriate, systematic, and individualized teaching practices.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder: Students with ADHD/ADD generally have average to above-average intelligence, and exhibit characteristics such as impatience, restlessness, insecurity, and boredom.   In addition, they may also have difficulty managing time and setting priorities.   When teaching a student with ADHD, be sure to notice and respond to nonverbal signals of frustration and confusion.

Autism: Autism is a disability syndrome characterized principally by significant problems in the development of communication and social functioning. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encompasses a broad definition of autism that includes related disabilities such as Asperger Syndrome, Rett's Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder. Autism and ASD are labels describing students with a great range of abilities and disabilities, including individuals with severe intellectual challenges as well as students who are intellectually gifted. With appropriate teaching, all students with autism can learn.

Blind and Low Vision:  Low vision students usually are print users, but may require special equipment and materials. The definition of legal blindness covers a broad spectrum of visual impairments. Students who are blind may use Braille or audiotapes to access the written curriculum.   The major challenge facing visually impaired students in the educational environment is the overwhelming mass of visual material to which they are continually exposed in textbooks, class outlines, class schedules, chalkboards writing, etc. In addition, the increase in the use of films, videotapes, computers, laser disks, and television adds to the volume of visual material to which they have only limited access. Overcoming a students' visual limitation requires unique and individual strategies based on that student's particular visual impairment and his/her skill of communication (e.g., Braille, speed listening, etc.).

Cerebral Palsy: CP is caused by an injury to the motor center of the brain, which may have occurred before, during or shortly after birth.    Manifestations may include involuntary muscle contractions, rigidity, spasms, poor coordination, poor balance or poor spatial relations.   Visual, auditory, speech, hand-function and mobility problems may occur.   Some students with CP can have mental retardation or learning disabilities too.   Those severely affected may need to use a wheelchair, while those mildly affected may have no physical manifestations at all.

Teaching Students with Cerebral Palsy

Many students with Cerebral Palsy will have other disabilities   (e.g., physical, mental, hearing, vision, etc.).   Please check out links that are related to the other disabilities your student might have.

Emotional/Behavior Disorders: Educating students with emotional or behavioral disorders can be an area of special challenge for general educators teachers.   Identifying and understanding the special learning needs of a student who has such a disorder plays a critical part in designing an appropriate educational program for that student and in providing needed emotional and behavioral supports.   Information on the many instructional practices and accommodations that have proven effective with students with emotional disturbances or behavioral disorders (ED/BD) can also help educators maximize these students' academic, social, and behavioral success.

Hard of Hearing, Deaf and Deaf-Blind: Students who are hard of hearing have residual hearing.   To understand speech they use speechreading, which alone only allows about 30% understanding.   They may also use hearing aids and/or other assistive devices.   Students who are deaf may use interpreters, notetakers or captioning services.   Students who are deaf-blind may have a combination of the above plus have classroom materials presented in Braille or with large print.

Mental Retardation and Cognitive Delays : MR and Cognitive delays are a term used when a student has certain limitations in mental functioning, skills such as communicating, and social skills. These limitations will cause a student to learn and develop more slowly than a typical student.   Students with mental retardation may take longer to learn to speak, walk, and take care of their personal needs such as dressing or eating.   They are likely to have trouble learning in school.   They will learn, but it will take them longer.   There may be some things they cannot learn.

Physical Disabilities: Physical disabilities encompass a wide-range of abilities.   It is difficult to generalize accommodations for all students with physical disabilities.   Students with specific motor impairments may use canes, scooters, wheelchairs, braces, or crutches to assist in mobility.   The student must learn accessible routes around campus; problems, such as bad weather or crowded sidewalks, can interfere with a student's movement from one place to another.   When teaching students with physical impairments, be sure to know the emergency exit routes for buildings and if a field trip is required as a class assignment, check the accessibility of the site.

Specific Learning Disability: Learning disabilities result from neurological differences that may alter a student's ability to store, process, retrieve, or produce information.   Some students with learning disabilities may have difficulty in only one of these areas others may have difficulty in more than one .   Students with learning disabilities generally have average or better than average intelligence. These students often accommodate their disability by determining the ways they process and/or express information best and focusing on those.

Speech and Language Impairment: Speech and language disorders refer to problems in communication and related areas such as oral motor function.   These delays and disorders range from simple sound substitutions to the inability to understand or use language or use the oral-motor mechanism for functional speech. Some causes of speech and language disorders include hearing loss, neurological disorders, brain injury, mental retardation, and physical impairments such as cleft lip or palate. Frequently, however, the cause is unknown.

More Information:

Be sure to check back often for updates