Teaching Students with Physical Disabilities, A Guide

school_five_studentsIn order to create an inclusive environment in classrooms, teachers and educators should have knowledge of physical impairments, how to assist, various teaching strategies, and necessary accommodations and modifications. In order to create a conducive learning environment for children with physical disabilities, there are various elements that can be implemented in schools. Here is a guide to help create more awareness about inclusion and how to properly make children with physical disabilities feel comfortable in a classroom setting. 

The practice of inclusion has changed how children with physical disabilities learn drastically and for the better. Previously, disabled children were taught in separate classrooms and even separate schools. Now these children work right alongside their peers in regular classrooms. The continuing development of the Disabilities Education Act and the idea of inclusion have ensured rights to a quality education for physically impaired children.

Due to the varying degrees and various kinds of physical impairment, it is essential that teachers and school faculty are educated and equipped with a general knowledge of various conditions and how they affect children. Various strategies can help to assist impaired children in being more independent and to participate fully in classroom activities more easily.

Creating an Inclusive Classroom

There are many different ways to include physically impaired students, depending on the type and severity of the student’s disability. Inclusive education ultimately means meeting individual needs. For example, a student may use assistive technology with a personal computer to complete written assignments in the inclusive classroom, while another student may learn all the academic subjects with peers but may be “pulled out” for assistance during for physical therapy. Inclusion really just means creating a plan for the student individually that allows for the least restriction possible.

Making inclusion work is based on multiple interconnected factors. All school faculty needs to be aware of the idea of inclusion and how to carry it out. There should be a specialist that assists in creating inclusion plans for specific students and helps to disseminate this plan to other teachers and often the other students. Teachers need to be continually trained and updated on physical impairment knowledge and awareness.

One of the most important factors, however, that aids in the success of inclusion is encouraging and educating other students on inclusion and acceptance. Teaching other children about disabilities with classroom presentations and reading materials is a very effective method. By teaching other students about another student’s disability, a sense of normalcy can be achieved, rather than a feeling of otherness and exclusion. Ideas for teaching students about physical disabilities include: having the specific disable child speak freely about their disability (this can lead to a sense of confidence in the face of their disability and can make the disability more relateable for other students), booklets and handouts, fiction books are a great tool to keep students’ attention and retention, question and answer sessions.

Benefits of an Inclusive Classroom

The main, obvious benefit of an inclusive classroom is to allow children with disabilities to have the same level of education as other children and to make them feel that they are not different or inferior to others. Also, an inclusive classroom allows for other students to learn more about disabilities, acceptance of differences, and empathy. Lastly, teachers become better educators by understanding their students more deeply and how to help them more efficiently.

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