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Modifications for Students with an Intellectual Disability

written by: Sharon Dominica • edited by: Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch • updated: 9/11/2012

Do you have children with intellectual disabilities in your classroom? Here are some modifications for students with an intellectual disability that can help them learn better.

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    Children with intellectual disabilities need some additional support and modifications in their environment, as well as in the type of activities they do. Here are a few modifications for students with an intellectual disability that will help them to learn better.

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    Quiet Work Space

    Children with intellectual disabilities tend to get distracted more easily and often struggle with attention. Ensure that the child has a work/ study space that is quiet and free from distractions. Using this space only for studying also will help the child get into a routine of studying and also understand that when he is sitting there, he is supposed to concentrate on the activity or task, and not play.

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    Functional Activities

    Children with intellectual disabilities learn better through functional day-to-day activities. Thus, instead of attempting to teach science theory or geography, it is better to teach practical things that will be useful, such as how to boil an egg or how to find their way to their friend’s house.

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    Repetition of Concepts Over the Day

    Children with intellectual disabilities need to learn a concept in different ways and have the opportunity to practice it many times in order to learn and remember it. Allow time, as well as opportunities, to practice the skills that you have taught them.

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    Teacher-Student Ratio

    One major modification that needs to be considered for children with intellectual disabilities is the student-teacher ratio. These children require additional support and guidance as they work on their activities. Ideally, there should be at least 1 teacher for every 3 children with intellectual disabilities.

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    Hands on Learning

    Children with intellectual disabilities learn a lot through doing tasks rather than just listening. Using all the senses to learn also helps them learn and retain information better. Your classroom or teaching area must have space and resources to allow children with an intellectual impairment to do various activities that are functional as well as academic.

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    Safety Measures

    Safety issues need to be considered while planning a teaching space for children with an intellectual impairment. Sharp scissors, knives, etc. must be kept out of reach. Harmful liquids like cleaning liquids must also be kept away. Medicines must be kept out of reach. In addition to this, make sure that none of the children can lock themselves up in any room. Small beads or other toy parts that the children could put in their mouth must be kept away if a child has a tendency to do that. If the child has seizures, you may need to look at padding the corners of furniture to avoid injury.

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    Schedule

    Children with intellectual disabilities find it hard to sit in one place and do an activity for a long time. The schedule must have short activity times, and must alternate between physical and sitting down activities. The schedule must also try and incorporate some aspects of self care, so that children start becoming more independent in putting on or taking off shoes, going to the toilet, or feeding themselves.

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    These are some modifications for students with an intellectual disability that can be used in a classroom or home setting. Here are some modified techniques that can help you reach and teach children with intellectual disabilities. A little effort can go a long way in helping children with intellectual disabilities stand on their own feet.