Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities

Teacher working closely with young studentResearch continues to confirm that we can teach students with learning disabilities to “learn how to learn.” We can put them into a position to compete and hold their own.

Some intervention practices that produce large outcomes are:

  • direct instruction;
  • learning strategy instruction; and
  • using a sequential, simultaneous structured multi-sensory approach.

Teachers who apply those kinds of intervention:

  • break learning into small steps;
  • administer probes;
  • supply regular, quality feedback;
  • use diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they say in words;
  • provide ample independent, well-designed intensive practice;
  • model instructional practices that they want students to follow;
  • provide prompts of strategies to use; and
  • engage students in process type questions like “How is the strategy working? Where else might you apply it?”

Scaffolding is also something that seems to make a real difference. Start out with the teacher using heavily mediated instruction, known as explicit instruction, then slowly begin to let the students acquire the skill, moving towards the goal of student mediated instruction.

Success for the student with learning disabilities requires a focus on individual achievement, individual progress, and individual learning. This requires specific, directed, individualized, intensive remedial instruction for students who are struggling.

Whether the student is in the general education classroom or learning in a special class setting, focus the activities on assessing individual students to monitor their progress through the curriculum. Concerns for the individual must take precedence over concerns for the group or the curriculum or for the organization and management of the general education classroom content.

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    Heloo my son has nuerofibromatosis.he can read very well and seems to struggle with maths abd figure and comprehensions..he has been selected for special class.i have struggled to come to terms with the fact.i got emotionally drained but i realised no one understood my child more than me.i have to be there

    • As a future teacher I recommend incorporating yourself with his school life more, if you already don’t. If you have the time, I’d say try to get to know what he’s learning a little more. Connections between a parent and child can be even more beneficial to learning than a teacher has, just as long as you can help understand the correct information. Special classes are scary just by name, but there’s always hope. I’ve known and tutored children who were in special classes but turned out to be very bright and eventually understood more about a subject than me. One is even in college for engineering.

    • Robert Keenan says

      10 year sped teacher here. You are correct. Only you really know. Keep in mind that being good at reading, writing and math is not everything. Learning to be kind and helpful can be more employable skills.

      Organize with the school…blah..blah..

      Just read with your kid as much as you can.

      I swear I see the difference in my students.

      • Komal Sharma says

        Ys.. Mr. Robert, i am totally agree with u..subject knowledge is not every thing… If thy learn or acquier any skill or hand made work…. Thy can survive in society ….. Its not necessary, thy should have any degree or certificate.. Every body has no degree like doctor or engineer…. May be thy have another quality or skill rather than academic skill… Some r vry good in study some r vry good in art n craft…. Everyone has skill…. Everyone is unique….. Its called Individual difference …thank-you

  2. Vanessa Finkley says

    Hi I’m a mom of a 6 year old 1st grader she has had problems since kindergarten with her phonics, and blending sounds.She can’t pass standardized test they labelled her Ld and wanted her in a special ed class,I feel the teacher let her sit in class and not finished work just to push her aside,and this teacher also had 3 other teacher kids in her class so it was no slowing down for her.Please let me know what I could do as a mom she’s going to the 2nd grade but I don’t think she’s ready.

    • LDA of America says

      You child is very lucky to have a parent, like yourself, that cares about the success of their education. To continue to advocate for your child there a few things that you might want to do to address their struggle with phonics and the blending of sounds. 1. Collaborate with your school and express your concerns about the phonics and blending struggles your daughter is experiencing by contacting the teacher, the school counselor, psychologist or social worker, the principal and/or the school study team. 2. By working with your daughter’s school staff a plan can be created and put in place to help with the phonics and blending struggles. Sometimes this can be accomplished without a formal Individual Education Plan (IEP), however, if you feel that you would like an assessment done please express that need to the individuals you are connecting with so an IEP can be initiated. 3. Go to your district website to find out if there is a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) that you can get in touch with and/or become involved in. 4. Take a few minutes to check out the following website and peruse the section on “Parent Support”.

    • Carmen Heethuis says

      It is projected that 80% of students in Special education programs who struggle with reading are dyslexic. I highly recommend that you do some research and read up about the signs to be looking for. Research shows that areas of the left hemisphere utilized for reading are not active in individuals with Dyslexia and an intensive multi-sensory program is the most effective way to create new pathways in the brain for learning to read. If the interventions being provided through your special education program are not proving to be effective, it is imperative that you take action for your child. Waiting is not the answer!

    • I am a mom and also a teacher. I enrolled my son before kindergarten in a special reading class just for fun. It was an excellent program run by universities around the country. You can use the same program for her. its called the Reading program by The institute of Reading development CA. try it it was worth the $300 I spent. My son is a strong reader. he is in 2nd grade now.

  3. I am also a mother to a son with learning difficulties. It gives me great pleasure to learn that there is a chance to assist our children to become more productive adults and to participate in the mainstream economy.

  4. Dr Muhammad Nasir says

    Thanks for such help. I learnt somewhat on teaching special students.

  5. N.Sankari says

    Hi my nephew Rohan is 12 yrs old,he is knowledgeable but finds very difficult to frame sentences, ultimately the answer ends meaningless.He is diagnosed as ADHD with LD.
    In what way I can help him in studies? Is there any suggestions?

    • Hi, I’d say there can be many reasons behind Rohan’s difficulties in framing sentences. Those reasons must be identified and the sooner the better in order to help him. Putting his thoughts into sentences can be disturbed by negative emotional states and lessened self-esteem just as well as lack of reading practice. You mentioned that he was diagnosed with ADHD with LD. Was his IQ checked? These are complex issues and without knowing the child not much can be said. However, like with any child who has LD, the positive, loving, accepting and patient environment is the most important help to a child. They are aware fully about their misfortune and perhaps his ADHD is a result of hearing from the adults that he is not capable enough. I only can suggest to always tell him to try his best, and always tell him that he is doing very well, when he tries. You cannot ask for more! His behaviour will change for the better alongside with the increased self-confidence, guaranteed! As we know learning can only take place in a positive emotional state, so try to help him achieve that first! Best wishes, Dorotea


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