When was the last time you thought about the process of remembering? For most of us, it is a process that happens automatically without us thinking about it. Yet, this is quite different for people with cognitive disabilities and those who have trouble retaining memories.
Numerous neurological conditions can lead to memory retrieval issues and deficits in short and/or long-term memory, including cognitive impairment, learning disabilities, and autism. However, it is crucial to remember that those memories are frequently present; they only need to be elicited.
The advantages of special needs classes
Special needs classes are designed to fully meet the needs of students and equip them with key skills and tools that will enhance learning and improve their quality of life. Teachers understand how to utilize an array of strategies to strengthen memory, thereby boosting knowledge and life skills in the process.
Here are just five approaches that can deliver the most beneficial outcomes:
1-Utilize the power of imagery
Techniques include physical handouts containing visual materials to support the information being taught in class and taking lots of photographs to develop important ‘autobiography’ skills which play a key role in helping us to learn from our experiences.
This approach can be further developed by encouraging students with autism to practice the process of visualization. For example, after reading a short paragraph in a book, it can be beneficial to spend some time picturing the scene. Students will be asked to create the image they are imagining at first, but as time goes on, they will be encouraged to describe the scene with words rather than drawings.
2-Implement a considered schedule
Procedural memory problems can make it difficult to keep up with everyday tasks. Creating routines and bringing balance to one’s life can be achieved through the use of colours, images, or symbols in a schedule.
3-Transform learning into an interactive game
Games can help to enhance memory retention and take a significant percentage of the stress out of the process of learning. There are countless possibilities here, ranging from going outside and taking turns reading car licence plates both forwards and backwards, to scavenger hunts with items that all pertain to a specific location or event.
4-Encouraging active learning
People with cognitive impairments may find it challenging to focus on a single task for long periods. This means that the process of learning information from a book can be an almost impossible task. Active learning within special needs classes brings an element of dynamism to the process, which includes everything from highlighting important sentences to writing notes on a sticky note to be placed inside the book for later review.
5-Adopting a multi-sensory approach
Different people learn differently, so providing a multi-sensory experience may be beneficial to keep the information in front of the brain for a long enough period to be remembered. From writing down tasks to describing them aloud and showcasing the equipment needed to complete each task, there are numerous ways to appeal to all senses during the learning process.