Innovative Teaching Approaches for Special Education: Thinking Outside the Box

Teaching children with learning disabilities is an ongoing challenge and teachers in special needs education need to be particularly creative and flexible. We try to develop effective special education programs to meet the diverse and complex needs of our students and we aim to enhance learning with the use of several specialty programs.

Approaches in modern special needs education


Admittedly, differentiation in education has gained widespread recognition for over a decade, making it possible that it may soon shed its innovative label. However, its significance remains paramount when it comes to catering to the diverse needs of students facing unique challenges such as intellectual disabilities, autism, and various learning difficulties. These categories encompass a wide range of manifestations, demanding tailored approaches in the classroom.

Differentiation is how every student, regardless of their strengths and weaknesses, can continue to participate in a class. The teacher, using differentiated instruction, will ensure that lesson content, the learning process and anything the student needs to produce is modified according to their specific level.

Use of Modern Technology

One of the most obvious ways technology has revolutionized the classroom is as a communication aid for those struggling with speech and language. Communication technology includes text-to-speech read-aloud, speech-to-text dictation and word prediction in writing.

All these modern technologies are becoming an increasingly important part of special education. Many special education programs are now looking to provide every student with their own personal computer or tablet, complete with specialist software that can be customized to individual needs. 

Direct Instruction

Direct instruction is gradually becoming a favoured approach supported by research and evidence. It involves carefully structured lessons where the study material is broken down into smaller parts. Teachers give clear and detailed explanations without extraneous detail; each learning session builds on the previous one and regular feedback and check-ins are given. Reading Mastery is one example of a direct instruction program.

Visualizing and Verbalizing

Some students with special needs struggle with complex aspects of visual content, such as drawing inferences or predicting what comes next, though they can decode a text. One way to tackle this type of comprehension difficulty is through the visualizing and verbalizing program of Lindamood-Bell. This program focuses on improving concept imagery, or the ability to convert written language into pictures and ideas in your own head.


Sensory engagement plays a crucial role in special education, and TouchMath effectively harnesses this aspect to benefit students with autism and intellectual disabilities. By carefully stimulating each sense, without overwhelming them, TouchMath recognizes the diverse needs of these students. 

One of its key components is the integration of touch points, enabling students to physically connect with numbers in addition to visual and auditory input. This multi-sensory approach enhances their learning experience and promotes a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts.

Social Education

While neurotypical children often pick up social cues and navigate the rules of social interaction effortlessly, it is important to recognize that students with special needs may require explicit instruction in this area.

For those students, engaging in games and role-playing activities can offer a less daunting and more enjoyable approach to exploring various social situations. By engaging in these simulated scenarios, students with special needs can acquire valuable social skills in a supportive and less stressful environment. 

Special needs education is an area constantly experiencing new innovations as educators search for evidence-based ways to ensure all students, regardless of ability, are given the best chance to master the skills they need to live happier and more independent lives.

Call or Email us today to find out more about Brighton School