Instructional and Environmental Strategies for Special Populations - Strategies for Students with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities

Physical & Cognitive Disabilities | Cognitive Disabilities | Physical Disabilities

Strategies for Students with Physical and Cognitive Disabilities

For students with cognitive or physical disabilities, educators must incorporate accessible instructional strategies throughout the daily schedule. The classroom environment and educational staff must consider changes and accommodations to increase student participation and enhance learning. When teachers and students adapt effective instructional strategies, individual and groups of students gain the tools necessary to become successful learners. Below are suggested strategies to support students with cognitive and physical disabilities; they are applicable to all classroom settings and with all children.

  • Strategies for Students with Physical Disabilities
  • Strategies for Students with Cognitive Disabilities

Back to Top

Instructional and Environmental Strategies for Students with Cognitive Disabilities
  • Teach self-monitoring techniques
  • Have students set goals to complete assignment, checking off each step as it is completed.
  • Have students work each step in different colors.
  • Encourage students to sub-vocalize while learning.
  • Use games such as hopscotch math to reinforce concepts.
  • Assign a peer tutor, and allow the peer or adult to read text aloud to the student.
  • Use cooperative learning techniques to allow students to “re-teach” concepts.
  • Model and teach metacognitive strategies.
  • Teach students the format of the textbook.
  • Teach note-taking sills.
  • Provide visual cues and props to reinforce and demonstrate from lectures.
  • Have students write down each step of a problem and check off as they complete it.
  • Maximize students’ potential for success by providing a balance of visual and auditory stimuli in your teaching.
  • Teach students to use self-questioning techniques.
  • Provide students with a written schedule of classroom routines and timelines.
  • Provide multiple opportunities to practice in different formats.
  • Use flash cards for individual or group review.
  • Use songs, rhymes, or rhythms to help remember information.
  • Chunk pieces of information together and in sets.
  • Use acronyms to remember words or phrase.
  • Use mnemonics like “Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally” (order of operations) to remember sequenced steps.
  • Use individual and class lists for added visual representation.
  • Use semantic maps and diagrams to help students remember the connections between concepts.
  • Re-teach items as often as possible, varying the approach a little each time.
  • Teach the meaning of key vocabulary words
  • Provide an example of a correctly solved problem at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Have students verbally or visually explain how to solve a math problem.
  • Provide students with a strategy to use for solving word problems
  • Introduce only one concept at a time and teach to mastery.
  • Provide many practice opportunities and include problem solving, reasoning and real-life application to help with transfer of information.
  • Provide learning aids such as calculators, manipulatives, and models to help students focus on conceptual understanding and skill building
  • Use estimation throughout the day and have students practice estimation prior to starting any computation
  • Provide cooperative learning strategies with large and small groups.
  • Teach the student how the textbook is organized and the format for each page or section.
  • Vary reinforcements styles to provide positive recognition for completing the correct steps regardless of the outcome.
  • Use video taped and audio taped lessons.
  • Utilize textbooks on CD ROM.
  • Make connections between math and other disciplines.
  • Scaffold the instruction.
  • Use many visual aids (posters, models, videos, slides, pictures, bulletin boards, notebooks).
  • Look for the same or similar content in another medium (movie, filmstrip, audio tape, video tape, sticker book, photo album, field trip).

Back to Top

Strategies for Students with Physical Disabilities
  • Use mnemonics such as SLANT (Sit up, lean forward, ask questions, nod your head, track the teacher).
  • Consider environmental issues such as seating placement in classroom, workspace free from distractions, proximity seating, student remove all non-related materials from space.
  • Use textured mats under worksheets and manipulatives to stabilize work area.
  • Provide a paper stabilizer (clipboard, non-slip writing surface).
  • Use colored highlighters to direct attention to key information.
  • Use digital timer to help pace student while working.
  • Use a line or a place-marker.
  • Provide adapted paper (bold line, raised line, enlarged spacing).
  • Use colored sticky notes to draw attention or clarify important information.
  • Use large pencils and/or pencil grips /weighted pencils.
  • Use adaptive equipment for posture: booster seats, arm rests, etc.
  • Use large size calculators.
  • Use computers with touch screen capabilities.
  • Use software programs with on screen calculator pads.
  • Demonstrate all concepts with manipulatives.
  • Provide copies of work that is presented on blackboard or textbook to cut down on copying for students.
  • Vary group size for instruction.
  • Provide large print handouts of text.
  • Provide a bookstand for books and assignment pages.
  • Use specifically lined /oriented paper.
  • Utilize computer speech-enhanced text and lessons.
  • Use drawings and real-life examples such as lunch counts and class lists.

Back to Top