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Skip Navigation LinksKCC Home > Access-Ability Services > How To Work With Students With Disabilities

How To Work With Students With Disabilities

Below you will find information on specific disabilities including terminology commonly used, considerations when working with students with these disabilities, adjustments that can be made in the classroom and accommodations these students may have approved by our office.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Blind/Low Vision
Brain Injuries
Deaf/Hard of Hearing
Learning Disabilities
Physical Disabilities
Psychiatric Disabilities
Speech and Language Disabilities
Other Disabilities
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)


Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

Terminology

ADD and ADHD are neurological conditions affecting both learning and behavior. They result from chronic disturbances in the areas of the brain that regulate attention, impulse control, and the executive functions which control cognitive tasks, motor activity, and social interactions. Hyperactivity may or may not be present. Treatable, but not curable, ADD and/or ADHD affects three to six percent of the population.

Characteristics (may include)

  • Inability to stay on task
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor time management skills
  • Difficulty in being prepared for class, keeping appointments, and getting to class on time
  • Reading comprehension difficulties
  • Difficulty with math problems requiring changes in action, operation and order
  • Inability to listen selectively during lectures, resulting in problems with notetaking
  • Lack of organization in work, especially written work and essay questions
  • Difficulty following directions, listening and concentrating
  • Blurting out answers

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • Since these students often also have learning disabilities, effective accommodations may include those also used with students with learning disabilities.
  • Effective instructional strategies include providing opportunities for students to learn using visual, auditory and hands-on approaches.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Copies of classmate’s and/or instructor’s notes or overheads
  • Extended time for exams
  • Exams in a quiet, distraction-free environment
  • Frequent breaks allowed during exam; exam given by page or by section
  • Clear arrangement of test items on paper
  • Calculator, spellchecker, thesaurus, reader, and/or scribe during exams
  • Use of blank card or paper to assist in reading
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Tape recorders and/or laptop computers
  • Taped texts and classroom materials
  • Use of handouts and visual aids
  • Extended time for in class assignments to correct spelling, punctuation, grammar
  • Word processor with spell check and/or voice output to provide auditory feedback
  • Instructions or demonstrations presented in more than one way
  • Concise oral instructions
  • Syllabus provided before the start of the semester

 

Blind/Low Vision

Terminology

The following terms are used in an educational context to describe students with visual disabilities: 

  • "Totally blind" students learn via Braille or other nonvisual media.
  • "Legally blind" indicates that a student has less than 20/200 vision in the more functional eye or a very limited field of vision (20 degrees at its widest point).
  • "Low vision" refers to a severe vision loss in distance and near vision. Students use a combination of vision and other senses to learn, and they may require adaptations in lighting or the print size, and, in some cases, Braille.

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • If needed, identify yourself at the beginning of a conversation and notify the student when you are exiting the room.
  • Nonverbal cues depend on good visual acuity. Verbally acknowledging key points in the conversation facilitates the communication process.
  • A student may use a guide dog or white cane for mobility assistance. A guide dog is a working animal and should not be petted.
  • When giving directions, be clear: say "left" or "right," "step up," or "step down." Let the student know where obstacles are; for example, "the chair is to your left" or "the stairs start in about three steps."
  • When guiding or walking with a student, verbally offer your elbow instead of grabbing his or hers.
  • Allow the student to determine the most ideal seating location so he or she can see, hear and, if possible, touch as much of the presented material as possible.
  • Discuss special needs for field trips or other out-of-class activities well in advance.
  • Assist the student in labeling lab materials so that they are easily identifiable.
  • Familiarize the student with the layout of the classroom or laboratory, noting the closest exits, and locating emergency equipment.
  • Ask the student if he or she will need assistance during an emergency evacuation and assist in making a plan if necessary.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Reading aloud materials from overheads, blackboards or handouts
  • Verbal description of class activity, such as when a show of hands is requested, stating how many hands were raised
  • Tape recorders, laptop computers or slates and styluses for notetaking
  • A lab assistant—MUST BE AUTHORIZED AND ARRANGED THROUGH DSS
  • Reading lists and syllabi in advance to permit time for transfer to alternate formats
  • Use of black print on white or pale yellow paper to allow for maximum contrast
  • Advanced notice of class schedule and/or room changes
  • Adapted computer with features such as, large print, speech synthesizer and Braille printer output
  • Alternative test formats such as taped, large print or Braille; use of readers, scribes, tape recorded responses, extended time, adapted computer or closed circuit TV
  • Extra time to complete tests when adaptive technology or a reader/scribe is required
  • Class assignments available in electronic format, such as computer disk, to allow access by computers equipped with voice synthesizers or Braille output devices
  • Assistive lab equipment (e.g., talking thermometers and calculators, light probes, and tactile timers)
  • Raised line drawings and tactile models of graphic materials
  • Videos with audio description

 

Brain Injuries

Terminology

Brain injury may occur in many ways. Traumatic brain injury typically results from accidents; however, brain injury may also be caused by insufficient oxygen, stroke, poisoning, or infection. Brain injury is one of the fastest growing types of disabilities, especially in the age range of 15 to 28 years.

Characteristics (may include)

Highly individual; brain injuries can affect students very differently. Depending on the area(s) of the brain affected by the injury, a student may demonstrate difficulties with:

  • Organizing thoughts, cause-effect relationships, and problem solving
  • Processing information and word retrieval
  • Generalizing and integrating skills
  • Social interactions
  • Memory
  • Balance or coordination
  • Communication and speech

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • Brain injury can cause physical, cognitive, behavioral, and/or personality changes that affect the student in the short term or permanently.
  • Recovery may be inconsistent. A student might take one step forward, two back, do nothing for a while and then unexpectedly make a series of gains.
  • Effective teaching strategies include providing opportunities for a student to learn using visual, auditory and hands-on approaches.
  • Ask the student if he or she will need assistance during an emergency evacuation and assist in making arrangements if necessary.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Tape recorders and/or laptop computers
  • Copies of classmate’s and/or instructor’s notes or overheads
  • Extended time for exams
  • Exams in a quiet, distraction-free environment
  • Frequent breaks allowed during exam; exam given by page or by section
  • Clear arrangement of test items on paper
  • Calculator, spellchecker, thesaurus, reader, and/or scribe during exams
  • Alternative form of exam, such as an oral test or an essay instead of multiple choice format
  • Use of blank card or paper to assist in reading
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Taped texts and classroom materials
  • Use of handouts and visual aids
  • Extended time for in class assignments to correct spelling, punctuation, and/or grammar
  • Word processor with spell check and/or voice output to provide auditory feedback
  • Instructions or demonstrations presented in more than one way
  • Concise oral instructions
  • Syllabus provided before the start of the semester

 

Deaf/Hard of Hearing

Terminology

Students who are deaf or hard of hearing require different accommodations depending on several factors, including the degree of hearing loss, the age of onset, and the type of language or communication system they use. They may use a variety of communication methods, including lipreading, cued speech, signed English and/or American Sign Language.

Characteristics (may include)

Deaf or hard of hearing students may:

  • be skilled lipreaders, but many are not; only 30 to 40 percent of spoken English is distinguishable on the mouth and lips under the best of conditions
  • also have difficulties with speech, reading and writing skills, given the close relationship between language development and hearing
  • use speech, lipreading, hearing aids and/or amplification systems to enhance oral communication
  • be members of a distinct linguistic and cultural group; as a cultural group, they may have their own values, social norms and traditions
  • use American Sign Language as their first language, with English as their second language

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • American Sign Language (ASL) is not equivalent to English; it is a visual-spatial language having its own syntax and grammatical structure.
  • Look directly at the student during a conversation, even when an interpreter is present, and speak in natural tones.
  • Make sure you have the student’s attention before speaking. A light touch on the shoulder, wave or other visual signal will help.
  • Recognize the processing time the interpreter takes to translate a message from its original language into another language; the student may need more time to receive information, ask questions and/or offer comments.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Seating which allows a clear view of the instructor, the interpreter and the blackboard
  • An unobstructed view of the speaker’s face and mouth
  • Written supplement to oral instructions, assignments, and directions
  • Providing handouts in advance so the student can watch the interpreter rather than read or copy new material at the same time
  • Visual aids whenever possible, including captioned versions of videos and films
  • Using a small spotlight to allow view of the interpreter while showing films and slides
  • Repeating questions and comments from other students
  • Notetaker for class lectures so the student can watch the interpreter
  • Test accommodations may include: extended time, separate place, access to word processor, use of interpreter for directions
  • Providing unfamiliar vocabulary in written form, on the blackboard, or in a handout
  • Use of e-mail, Fax, or word processor for discussions with the instructor
  • Visual warning system for building emergencies
Communicating with Students who are Deaf:

Students who are deaf communicate in different ways depending on several factors: amount of residual hearing, type of deafness, language skills, age deafness began, speech abilities, speechreading skills, personality, intelligence, family environment and educational background. Some are more easily understood than others. Some use speech only or a combination of sign language, fingerspelling, speech, writing, body language and facial expression. Students who are deaf use many ways to convey an idea to other people. The key is to find out which combination of techniques works best with each student. The important thing is not how you exchange ideas or feelings, but that you communicate.

To communicate with a person who is deaf in a one-to-one situation:

  • Get the student’s attention before speaking. A tap on the shoulder, a wave, or another visual signal usually works. Clue the student into the topic of discussion. It is helpful to know the subject matter being discussed in order to pick up words and follow the conversation. This is especially important for students who depend on oral communication.
  • Speak slowly and clearly. Do not yell, exaggerate, or over enunciate. It is estimated that only three out of 10 spoken words are visible on the lips. Overemphasis of words distorts lip movements and makes speechreading more difficult. Try to enunciate each word without force or tension. Short sentences are easier to understand than long ones. Look directly at the student when speaking. Even a slight turn of your head can obscure the speechreading view. Do not place anything in your mouth when speaking. Mustaches that obscure the lips and putting your hands in front of your face can make lipreading difficult.
  • Maintain eye contact. Eye contact conveys the feeling of direct communication. Even if an interpreter is present, speak directly to the student. He or she will turn to the interpreter as needed. Avoid standing in front of a light source, such as a window or bright light. The bright background and shadows created on the face make it almost impossible to speechread.
  • First repeat, then try to rephrase a thought rather than repeating the same words. If the student only missed one or two words the first time, one repetition will usually help. Particular combinations of lip movements sometimes are difficult to speechread. If necessary, communicate by paper and pencil or by typing to each other on the computer. E-mail and Fax are also becoming popular methods of communication. Getting the message across is more important than the method used. Use pantomime, body language, and facial expression to help communicate.
  • Be courteous during conversation. If the phone rings or someone knocks at the door, excuse yourself and tell him or her that you are answering the phone or responding to the knock. Don’t ignore the student and talk with someone else while he or she waits.
  • Use open-ended questions which must be answered by more than "yes" or "no." Do not assume that the message was understood if the student nod his or her head. Open-ended questions ensure that your information has been communicated.
Participating in group situations with people who are deaf:
  • Seat the student to his or her best advantage. This usually means a seat opposite the speaker, so that he or she can see the person’s lips and body language. The interpreter should be next to the speaker, and both should be illuminated clearly. Be aware of the room lighting.
  • Provide new vocabulary in advance. It is difficult, if not impossible, to speechread or read fingerspelling of unfamiliar vocabulary. If new vocabulary cannot be presented in advance, write the terms on paper, a blackboard, or an overhead projector. If a lecture or film will be presented, a brief outline or script given to the student and interpreter in advance helps them in following the presentation.
  • Avoid unnecessary pacing and speaking when writing on a blackboard. It is difficult to speechread a person in motion and impossible to speechread one whose back is turned. Write or draw on the blackboard, then face the group and explain the work. If you use an overhead projector, don’t look down at it while speaking.
  • Make sure the student does not miss vital information. Provide in writing any changes in meeting times, special assignments, or additional instructions. Allow extra time when referring to manuals or texts since the student who is deaf must look at what has been written and then return attention to the speaker or interpreter.
  • Slow down the pace of communication slightly to facilitate understanding. Allow extra time for the student to ask or answer questions. Repeat questions or statements made from the back of the room. Remember that students who are deaf are cut off from whatever happens outside their visual area. Use hands-on experience whenever possible in training situations. Students who are deaf often learn quickly by doing. A concept which may be difficult to communicate verbally may be explained more easily by a hands-on demonstration.
  • Use of an interpreter in large, group settings makes communication much easier. The interpreter will be a few words behind the speaker in transferring information; therefore, allow time for the student to obtain all the information and ask questions.

Using an Interpreter:

  • Speak clearly and in a normal tone, facing the person using the interpreter (do not face the interpreter).
  • Do not rush through a lecture or presentation. The interpreter or the deaf student may ask the speaker to slow down or repeat a word or sentence for clarification. Allow time to study handouts, charts or overheads. A deaf student cannot watch the interpreter and study written information at the same time.
  • Permit only one person at a time to speak during group discussions. It is difficult for an interpreter to follow several people speaking at once. Since the interpreter needs to be a few words behind the conversation, give the interpreter time to finish before the next person begins so the deaf student can join in or contribute to the discussion.
  • If a class session is more than an hour and a half, two interpreters will usually be scheduled and work on a rotating basis. It is difficult to interpret for more than an hour and a half, and following an interpreter for a long time is tiring for a deaf student. Schedule breaks during lengthy classes so both may have a rest.
  • Provide good lighting for the interpreter. If the interpreting situation requires darkening the room to view slides, videotapes, or films, auxiliary lighting is necessary so that the deaf student can see the interpreter. If a small lamp or spotlight cannot be obtained, check to see if lights can be dimmed, but still provide enough light to see the interpreter. If you are planning to present any video taped materials in your classroom, please order tapes that are closed captioned. Please request equipment that will display closed captioning, or request a VCR with a closed captioning decoder from Information Technology.
  • You may ask the student to arrange for an interpreter for meetings during office hours. Often your classroom interpreter can schedule this time with you. For field trips and other required activities outside of regularly scheduled class time, the student must make a written request to the DSS office as soon as possible, but at least two weeks before the event.
  • Some courses require frequent use of a textbook during class time. Providing a desk copy to the interpreter for the semester will often facilitate communication. For technical courses, it can allow interpreters time to prepare signs for new vocabulary before interpreting the lecture.
  • Bound by a professional code of ethics, interpreters are hired by the College to interpret what occurs in the classroom; interpreters are not permitted to join into conversations, voice personal opinions, or serve as general classroom aides. Do not make comments to interpreters that are not intended to be interpreted to the deaf student.

Adapted from:  Communicating with a Student who is Deaf.  Seattle Community College. Regional Education Center for Deaf Students.

An Online Orientation to serving students who are deaf or hard of hearing is available through the Postsecondary Education Programs Network (PEPNET) at: http://www.pepnet.org/. The training takes about one hour and upon completion, participants may download and print a certificate issued by PEPNet.

"Teacher Tipsheets" on many topics related to instruction for students who are deaf or hard of hearing are available through the Northeast Technical Center (NETAC). DSS highly recommends a visit to this site. http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/PUBS/Tipsheet_Deaf_Culture.pdf

 

Learning Disabilities

Terminology

Learning disabilities are neurologically based and may interfere with the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical skills. They affect the manner in which individuals with average or above average intellectual abilities process and/or express information. A learning disability may be characterized by a marked discrepancy between intellectual potential and academic achievement resulting from difficulties with processing information. The effects may change depending upon the learning demands and environments and may manifest in a single academic area or impact performance across a variety of subject areas and disciplines. The impact of learning disabilities can be decreased by remediation, instructional interventions, and the use of compensatory strategies.

Characteristics (may include)

Difficulties may be seen in one or more of the following areas:

  • oral and/or written expression
  • reading comprehension and basic reading skills
  • problem solving
  • ability to listen selectively during lectures, resulting in problems with notetaking
  • mathematical calculation and reasoning
  • interpreting social cues
  • time management
  • organization of tasks, such as in written work and/or essay questions
  • following directions and concentrating

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

Instructors who use a variety of instructional modes will enhance learning for students with learning disabilities. A multi-sensory approach to teaching will increase the ability of students with different functioning learning channels—auditory, visual and/or haptic (hands-on)—to benefit from instruction.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Tape recorders and/or laptop computers
  • Copies of classmate’s and/or instructor’s notes or overheads
  • Extended time for exams
  • Exams in a quiet, distraction-free environment
  • Frequent breaks allowed during exam; exam given by page or by section
  • Clear arrangement of test items on paper
  • Calculator, spellchecker, thesaurus, reader, and/or scribe during exams
  • Alternative form of exam, such as an oral test or an essay instead of multiple choice format
  • Use of blank card or paper to assist in reading
  • Extended time to complete assignments
  • Taped texts and classroom materials
  • Use of handouts and visual aids
  • Extended time for in class assignments to correct spelling, punctuation, and/or grammar
  • Word processor with spell check and/or voice output to provide auditory feedback
  • Concise oral instructions
  • Instructions or demonstrations presented in more than one way
  • Syllabus provided before the start of the semester. 

 

Physical Disabilities

Terminology

A variety of physical disabilities result from congenital conditions, accidents, or progressive neuromuscular diseases. These disabilities may include conditions such as spinal cord injury (paraplegia or quadriplegia), cerebral palsy, spina bifida, amputation, muscular dystrophy, cardiac conditions, cystic fibrosis, paralysis, polio/post polio, and stroke.

Characteristics (may include)

Highly individual; the same diagnosis can affect students very differently.

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • When talking with a person who uses a wheelchair, try to converse at eye level; sit down if a chair is available.
  • Make sure the classroom layout is accessible and free from obstructions.
  • If a course is taught in a laboratory setting, provide an accessible work station. Consult with the student for specific requirements, then with DSS if additional assistance or equipment is needed.
  • If a student also has a communication disability, take time to understand the person. Repeat what you understand, and when you don’t understand, say so.
  • Ask before giving assistance, and wait for a response. Listen to any instructions the student may give; the student knows the safest and most efficient way to accomplish the task at hand.
  • Let the student set the pace when walking or talking.
  • A wheelchair is part of a student’s personal space; do not lean on, touch, or push the chair, unless asked.
  • When field trips are a part of course requirements, make sure accessible transportation is available.
  • Ask the student if he or she will need assistance during an emergency evacuation, and assist in making a plan if necessary.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Accessible location for the classroom and place for faculty to meet with student
  • Adaptive seating in classrooms
  • Notetakers, tape recorders, laptop computers or copies of instructor and/or classmate’s notes
  • Assistive computer equipment/software: voice activated word processing, word prediction, keyboard and/or mouse modification
  • Test accommodations: extended time, separate location, scribes, access to adapted computers
  • Some flexibility with deadlines if assignments require access to community resources
  • Adjustable lab or drafting tables
  • Lab assistant or classroom aide—MUST BE AUTHORIZED AND ARRANGED BY DSS
  • Accessible parking in close proximity to the building
  • Activities that allow the student to participate within his or her physical capabilities, yet still meet course objectives
  • Taped texts
  • Advance planning for field trips to ensure accessibility

 

Psychiatric Disabilities

Terminology

Psychiatric disabilities refer to a wide range of behavioral and/or psychological problems characterized by anxiety, mood swings, depression, and/or a compromised assessment of reality. These behaviors persist over time; they are not in response to a particular event. Although many individuals with psychiatric disabilities are stabilized using medications and/or psychotherapy, their behavior and affect may still cycle.

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • Students with psychiatric disabilities may not be comfortable disclosing the specifics of their disability. Instructors can help these students by providing an understanding and accepting environment in the classroom, which will encourage them to request the accommodations they need to succeed.
  • If a student does disclose, be willing to discuss how the disability affects him or her academically and what accommodations would be helpful.
  • With treatment and support, many students with psychiatric disabilities are able to manage their mental health and benefit from college classes.
  • If students seem to need counseling for disability-related issues, encourage them to discuss their problems with a trained DSS counselor. Maintaining a clear, distinct separation of roles between instructor and counselor is critical for this population.
  • Sometimes students may need to check their perceptions of a situation or information you have presented in class to be sure they are on the right track.
  • Sequential memory tasks, such as spelling, math, and step-by-step instructions may be more easily understood by breaking up the tasks into smaller ones.
  • Drowsiness, fatigue, memory loss, and decreased response time may result from prescription medications.
  • Feel free to consult with a DSS counselor if you have any questions or need assistance.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Extended time for exams
  • Quiet, distraction-free testing area
  • Exams divided into segments with rest breaks
  • Notetakers, readers, or tape recorders in class
  • Use of a computer or scribe for essay tests
  • Extensions, incompletes, or late withdrawals in the event of prolonged illness
  • Some flexibility in the attendance requirements in case of health related absences
  • Modification of seating arrangement (near the door or at the back of the classroom)
  • Beverages allowed in class due to medications which may cause extreme thirst
  • Referral to a counselor for assistance with time management and study skills

 

Speech and Language Disabilities

Terminology

Speech and language disabilities may result from hearing loss, cerebral palsy, learning disabilities, and/or physical conditions. There may be a range of difficulties from problems with articulation or voice strength to complete absence of voice. Included are difficulties in projection, fluency problems, such as stuttering and stammering, and in articulating particular words or terms.

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • Give students opportunity—but do not compel speaking in class. Ask students for a cue they can use if they wish to speak.
  • Permit students time to speak without unsolicited aid in filling in the gaps in their speech.
  • Do not be reluctant to ask students to repeat a statement.
  • Address students naturally. Do not assume that they cannot hear or comprehend.
  • Patience is the most effective strategy in teaching students with speech disabilities. 
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Modifications of assignments such as one-to-one presentation or use of a computer with voice synthesizer
  • Alternative assignment for oral class reports
  • Course substitutions

 

Other Disabilities

Terminology

Other disabilities include conditions affecting one or more of the body's systems. These include respiratory, immunological, neurological, and circulatory systems.

Examples:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Epilepsy/Seizure Disorder
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Lupus Erythematosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Chemical Dependency
  • Diabetes
  • Epstein Barr virus
  • HIV+/AIDS
  • Multiple Chemical Sensitivity
  • Renal Disease

Considerations and Instructional Strategies

  • The condition of a student with a systemic disability may fluctuate or deteriorate over time, causing the need for and type of accommodation to vary.
  • Fatigue may be a significant factor in the student's ability to complete required tasks within regular time limits.
  • Some of these conditions will cause the student to exceed the College's attendance policy. A reasonable accommodation should reflect the nature of the class requirements and the arrangements initiated by the student for completing the assignments. If you need assistance or guidance in determining a reasonable standard of accommodation, consult with a DSS counselor.
  • A student may need to leave the classroom early and unexpectedly; the student should be held accountable for missed instruction.
  • Ask the student if he or she will need assistance during an emergency evacuation and assist in making a plan if necessary.
Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
  • Similar to those for other disabilities, depending upon the student's particular condition, and may include:

    • Conveniently located parking
    • Extended time for exams
    • Enlarged printed materials
    • Recorded course materials
    • Use of scribes and readers
    • Use of computers or other assistive technology
    • Modified courseload
    • Exam modifications, such as increased frequency, shorter testing sessions, or administering the test by page or by section
    • Careful scheduling of the use of cleaning compounds or pesticides

 

The above information adapted from Montgomery College Disability Support Services Faculty/Staff Guide-Optimizing the Learning Environment for Students with Disabilities at http://www.montgomerycollege.edu/dss/tbl-cnts.htm

     

    Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)

    Terminology

      ASD is an umbrella of neurological disorders that affect, to various degrees, a student's ability to communicate, understand language, adjust to changes and relate to others.

    Characteristics (may include)

     

    Strengths

    • Usually above average to superior intelligence (Asperger’s Syndrome)
    • Honest - will say just what they are thinking
    • Confident in their beliefs
    • Very knowledgeable about and devoted to a particular area of interest
    • Follow rules/guidelines when clearly delineated and reinforced
    • Excellent memory
    • Very attentive to detail
    • Innovative, creative thinkers

    Challenges

    • Understanding non-verbal forms of communication
    • Modulating voice and establishing eye contact
    • Engaging in appropriate social interaction
    • Recognizing how their behavior affects those around them
    • Understanding unstated rules or expectations
    • Very concrete style of thinking
    • Difficulty with organization (including initiating, planning, carrying out and finishing tasks) and change
    • Hypersensitive to loud noises, light and smells
    • Difficulty controlling emotions e.g. anxiety and depression; occasional meltdowns

    Considerations and Instructional Strategies

       
    • Students may monopolize the classroom conversation by asking too many questions or by becoming tangential in answering questions. Allow the student no more than three questions each class period. Work out a signal with the student that you can use when (s)he is monopolizing the conversation in class.
    • They are not likely to respond to non-verbal cues to change their behavior. Explain expectations and boundaries in a warm, clear, concrete manner.
    • Students may not make eye contact, which is often misinterpreted as rudeness or disinterest.
    • They may become distracted, especially if the class is long. They may rock, tap, or fidget with items; this is usually a means of dealing with their anxiety. Allow the student to be seated near the exit and allow breaks as needed.
    • Provide as much predictability as possible. Be willing to re-explain information in as concrete a manner as possible. Give the student frequent feedback on assignments.
    • Provide written versions of oral instructions.
    • Avoid figures of speech, sarcasm, double-meanings and absolutes like “always” and “never”, unless you mean them. The student is likely to take you literally.
    • Avoid group work and presentations, where possible. The student’s social and communicative disabilities make these very difficult.
    • If the student engages in unusual classroom behavior that you find disruptive, be aware that it is most likely unintentional. Discuss the behavior with the student and advise the student on how to behave. However, KCC’s code of conduct applies regardless of disability.
    Accommodations and adjustments in classroom
    • ASD students are not all alike. They have different symptoms and have developed different coping strategies.  Accommodations will vary by student and may vary by course.

 

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