While the majority of a student’s program
should be as closely aligned with the general education curriculum
as possible, some accommodations and modifications may be necessary.
Listed below are some suggested ways to aid students with specific
learning disabilities (SLD) learn more effectively at home or at
school. Selection from these and other possibilities must be based
on the individual needs of each child.
Information and ideas from a multidisciplinary team, including
the parents and student, are important for developing an Individualized
Education Program (IEP) that meets the unique needs of each student
with learning disabilities. A carefully developed multidisciplinary
approach will make classroom instruction meaningful for the student.
1. For some students who read slowly or with difficulty, a “read-along”
technique in which taped texts and materials allow learning of printed
2. For students with memory problems or difficulty taking notes,
a fellow student might share notes; the student might tape the lesson;
or the teacher might provide a copy of the lesson outline.
3. For students who read below expected levels, educational videos
and films or talking books can provide the general information that
cannot be acquired from the printed page.
4. For students with short term memory problems (e.g., understand
math processes, but have short term memory problems that interfere
with remembering math facts), a table of facts or a calculator could
5. For the student whose handwriting is slow, illegible or includes
many reversed letters, a cassette recorder or a computer with word
processing software could be used for written work or tests.
6. For the student who has difficulty with spelling, a “misspeller’s
dictionary” or computerized spell checker can help make written
7. For students who have difficulty reading cursive, small, or
crowded print, typed handouts, large print, or double spaced materials
8. To develop memory and listening skills, poetry, rhymes, songs,
audio-taped materials and mnemonics may improve performance.
9. To teach spelling, use a multi-sensory approach which combines
saying, spelling aloud, and writing words.
10. Ways to improve vocabulary and comprehension can include a
student-developed file of vocabulary words and the use of word webs
and visual organizers to relate words and ideas heard or read on
paper. A dictionary or thesaurus, suited to the child’s learning
level, is also an excellent tool for building vocabulary, spelling
and reading comprehension.
11. For students who have difficulty organizing time, materials
and information, a variety of approaches can be used, including:
- a quiet, uncluttered homework space;
- alarm watch;
- purchased texts that can be marked with a highlighter;
- a homework assignment diary coordinated between home and school;
- study skills instruction; and
- a personally-developed date-book or scheduler.
12. For students who copy inaccurately, but need written practice
to solidify learning, changes that may help include: leaving a space
directly under each word, phrase or sentence, or having handouts
on the desk for those who can’t copy from the blackboard or
take dictation accurately. For left-handed students, place the list
of words at the right margin. For students whose writing is large,
provide enlarged spaces for “fill in the blank” activities.
13. For students who seem to process auditory information slowly
(e.g., not fully understanding questions asked, recalling needed
information, or forming an appropriate answer), be patient. Allow
sufficient “wait-time for the answer or provide the questions
in written form.
14. Oral and written language should be taught together as much
as possible. Illustrations in a book being read should be used to
generate conversation, vocabulary and concepts that will relate
to what is to be read. Material that is read can be translated into
a verbal summary, a word web, a visual organizer, or a computer
15. For students who find reading slow and difficult, supplement
the subject matter being read with video tapes., DVDs, captioned
TV programs, or computer software.
More on Reading
Since reading is central to learning, children who do not learn
to read by the second grade are likely to struggle with learning
throughout their lives. Reading assessment should include skill
levels in decoding, fluency and comprehension.
As children learn to read, they learn how spoken and written language
relate to each other. Thus, the components of a reading program
must also relate to one another, engage all children and meet their
individual needs. Reading activities may include:
- Listening to good stories and books, appropriate to the child’s
age, read aloud daily;
- Language games that encourage identification of rhyming words
and creation of rhymes;
- Instruction and practice in phonemic awareness, alphabetic
knowledge, alphabetic principles, decoding strategies, vocabulary
acquisition, fluency and comprehension;
- Additional reading instruction in a small group or tutoring
- Before/after school and summer school classes.
Theories on mathematics disabilities view spatial visualization
and verbal skills as critical. These two skill areas are important
for anyone learning mathematics, but are especially important for
students with learning disabilities. These areas should be heavily
emphasized in the teaching and remediation of mathematical concepts
An individualized education program in mathematics would concentrate
on developing concepts and skills within such strands as: numeration,
geometry, measurement, collection and interpretation of data, estimation/mental
computations, patterns and relations and word problems/applications.
Concepts are best introduced with “hands-on” concrete
materials. Knowing one-digit facts is important, but work with paper
and pencil algorithms should not be emphasized, since calculations
can be done with calculators if memory or sequencing is a problem.
Estimation strategies are often taught as mental computations skills
are developed. Students should be encouraged to draw illustrations
and representations whenever possible. They should consistently
discuss, read and write as they solve more complex computational
and word problems. For students with learning disabilities, confidence
in the practical applications of mathematics to everyday life is
also very important.