Teaching children with learning disabilities requires a flexible and creative approach, adapting to the specific requirements of each individual student. As the student grows older, their needs and priorities are likely to change. Learning disabilities programs for high schoolers need to recognize the unique situation of their students.
Specific needs of high school students
High schoolers hover between childhood and adulthood. They may be starting to look ahead to further education or potential careers, but they do not have to face all of those responsibilities just yet. For high schoolers with learning disabilities, their age may mean a change in the level of support available and in the expectations they face. They may not have reached the academic level that would be expected from students without learning disabilities, which can make it difficult to obtain educational qualifications, but they are still likely to be considering how to increase their level of independence in preparation for their adult life.
How to incorporate these needs in learning disabilities programs
As in any educational setting, lessons in learning disabilities programs aim to help students master their full potential so they are better prepared to live happy and fulfilling lives when they become adults.
Most people who work with people with learning disabilities will have realized that each student is unique. Even if they have the exact same condition, it will manifest in different ways, even before you account for differences in personality, home life and the other factors that can influence behaviour. This means that learning disabilities programs need to offer flexibility, adapting their schedules, classes and methods to each student’s individual needs. Not all students will start in the same place, and they are all likely to progress at different rates.
Pace of learning
One simple way to adapt teaching methods for students with learning disabilities is to slow the pace of classes. Students need more time to absorb, consolidate and retain information. Taking more time also ensures students can be provided with more appropriate and intensive support in all areas of their studies, and any problems are more likely to be identified quickly.
Many students with learning disabilities will also struggle to express their own needs or communicate with others. They may find establishing and maintaining relationships difficult. Even when a lesson is focused on an academic subject, it is important teachers continue to offer social support. Make use of opportunities for students to interact with and learn from others, whilst still ensuring they can have quiet and their own space when necessary.
Use of teaching aids and props
Some students with learning disabilities may benefit from alternative approaches to lessons. This may include audio, visual or tactile stimuli to allow them to engage all of their senses whilst learning. Difficult subjects can be converted from abstract concepts into tangible representation. This may help them better understand and retain information.
These are just some considerations and methods that a learning disabilities program may want to use to ensure their high school aged students have the best opportunities to improve not just their academic performance but their overall ability to be successful in life.