Activities & Ideas for Teaching Students With Multiple Disabilities

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Teaching is a challenging profession as it is, but when you are charged with providing students with multiple disabilities a quality education, you must be prepared. Certain activities and ideas can give you the edge in the classroom and, consequently, give them the edge in life that they may have missed otherwise.

  1. Non-Academic Related Issues

    • First, meetings and conferences must be held frequently and early to determine the severity of the different disabilities each child possesses. Educators should not be afraid to speak openly to the children about their disabilities as it relates to their experience in the classroom. Also, frequent breaks should be taken throughout the day as children with multiple disabilities may find it harder to cope with classroom pressures. This can begin to look like apathy or discouragement in the students. They may also struggle with fatigue, memory dysfunction, or issues with their medication. Accommodating these difficulties in the classroom allows for a more secure and effective learning environment.

    Note Taking

    • When a student has several disabilities, tasks as academically fundamental as taking notes can be trying. To help these students, teachers can provide the notes in typed form or an outline of the notes. The students can also be allowed to record the lecture on tape recorders or teachers can even record themselves and give the lecture to the students in MP3 format. The students can listen on an MP3 player or a computer.


    • The goal when assessing students with multiple disabilities is not to water down the material but instead to give the students a realistic opportunity to prove their mastery over certain skills and concepts. Conducting an oral test may provide this opportunity as well as having a reader or someone to write for the student while he/she speaks the answers. If the assessment is on paper, it should be in the simplest format possible, keeping in mind that too many questions on one page or the same question stretching from one page on to the next can be confusing. These methods work well for all sorts of impairments including visual, mobile, mental,and developmental. There should be pre-made goals for the child to reach and that should be a basis for judging whether he/she mastered a concept.

    School or District-Wide Policy Adjustments

    • Every district and school adheres to certain policies. When teaching students with multiple disabilities, some of those policies may need to be adjusted. For instance, the amount of time to get to class may be extended for students with certain disabilities as well as flexibility on certain attendance policies because of unexpected fluctuations in the child’s condition or medication. Also preferential seating may be given to students with visual, audio, or attention impairments for the good of the child’s education.

    Teaching Strategies

    • Certain strategies can be more effective with students that have special needs. For instance, visual organizers can present information in a newly organized way that a student’s brain may not be able to process otherwise. Also, summarizing and comparing and contrasting are proven strategies that help students process information and retain it. QAR (Question-Answer Relationship) strategy is a method that shows students how questions are formed, giving them a better understanding of how to answer questions.

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