Each and every child has right to access high-quality education as it one of the precursors to a happy and prosperous life. However, learners with disabilities face several challenges that adversely affect their academic performance leading to poor achievement. Educational duties place considerable demands on the disabled requiring them to adapt accordingly. Learners with disability have special needs that need adequate support so as to be productive in the classroom environment. Therefore, teachers should have the knowledge, skills, special tools, and equipment to educate the learners with special needs adequately so as to maximize academic performance (Salend, 2015). Therefore, it is important to address the issue of helping learners with disabilities. Several studies have helped provide guidance on the way forward leading to the several theories. This paper addresses the issue of supporting learners with disabilities by scrutinizing past researchers on the same.
According to the World Health Organization (2013), disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions (1). Impairment is a challenge in how the body works or how it is structured while activity limitation is a problem that a person faces in the course of performing a task. A participation limitation refers to a challenge encountered by a person in various life situations. Salsgiver (2015), defines disability as any condition that is attributable to an intellectual, psychiatric, cognitive, neurological, sensory or physical impairment or a combination of those impairments which is permanent or likely to be permanent of a chronic or episodic nature which results in substantially reduced capacity of the person for communication, social interaction, learning or mobility and a need for continuing support services (25). Learners with disability have a problem in maintaining a normal lifestyle and performing a range of activities, unlike their peers.
A study by Bryant et al. (2016) proposed the provision of inclusive classrooms to help students with disabilities. It proposed that learners should be subdivided into various groups to boost interaction and teamwork. Teachers should purpose to understand their students well to meet their most pressing needs. A proper understanding of the learners is essential as it enables the teacher to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the students thus reach them at the points of their need. The classroom environment should also be conducive to encourage diversity and inclusivity of all students, including the handicapped (Bryant, et al., 2016). This environment should be safe enough to avoid predisposing the learners to harm. The teachers should also set rules in collaboration with the students and observe them without compromise. Additionally, co-teachers should provide the necessary assistance for the maximum benefit of the students since teamwork is paramount for any activity. Eickmeyer et al. (2012) conducted a research to asses the North American medical schools experience with and approaches to the needs of students with physical and sensory disabilities. The study discovered that allowing extra time for the disabled to complete tasks can help promote learning. Such accommodations are necessary when admitting and teaching disabled children.
Rice & Carter (2015), sought to understand ways of serving handicapped children in school programs through the development of policies at the state and federal level. The study proposed that teachers should promote compliance among learners by helping them to understand and appreciate their differences. There are several variances in the learning strategies employed for the disabled and the non-disabled students. The teachers should help the learners to appreciate the fact that everyone is unique by utilizing different models of delivering instruction. They should help students with disabilities to accept their situation and put the most effort to achieve the best despite their limitation (Rice & Carter, 2015). Accepting themselves boost their self-esteem and assist them in gaining the courage to participate in classroom activities. Therefore, the classroom environment should embrace diversity among students and acknowledge the unique differences that exist among the different learners. The teacher should break down the work into short-term goals that are readily achievable. Giving out large tasks using simple goals and objectives will give the pupils a sense of achievement upon meeting the set goals (Richards & Armstrong, 2016). The productivity of students who need the greatest support can be assessed using the short term goal strategy.
Harwell & Jackson (2014) propose that the teacher should document the learners behavior and determine their cause so as to understand how to modify the undesirable ones. Some students may exhibit abnormal behaviors out of the frustration resulting from their inability to perform like their peers. Performance limitation can arise due to the various incapacities brought by disability. Therefore, the teacher should institute measures to identify abnormal behaviors among the students without being judgmental. Establishment of the cause of the behavior change is the best measure to address the underlying issue. In a purely special education classroom, the learners will exhibit variable capabilities and disabilities too. The classroom environment should, therefore, support all the students. The teacher should follow the individual training plans as carefully as possible where goals and objectives are designed to specifically meet the needs of a particular student (Gargiulo & Metcalf, 2015).
The teacher should also develop checklists to establish a routine in the classroom thus promote consistency of activities. There should be adequate time slotted for a break to ensure that both the learners and the teacher break the monotony of a classroom (Harwell & Jackson, 2014). Also, there should be regular communication with the parents or caregivers of the students with disabilities to facilitate the building of relationships. A good relationship between the teacher and the learners helps the teacher to remain updated on any changes that the parents might in regards to the student behavior at home. This will also help the parents to be aware of the ongoing classroom progress of their children. Additionally, the teacher should ensure the lamination of all the worksheets. Lamination helps to prevent any accidental damages and ensure that learning materials remain intact as the children cannot destroy them (Bryant et al., 2016).
Turnbull et al. (2015) propose Parents and caregivers of children with disabilities also have a great role to play in promoting the acquisition of high-quality education. Parent and caregiver involvement in the educational plan can help the child reach the maximum potential. They should support and encourage their children with the necessary love to help them gain self-confidence leading to lifelong success. Parents ought to understand that their role in helping the children is not to cure the disability but assist them to be in a position to help themselves. Therefore, their purpose to put the learners in the best position to function optimally and independently with limited support. Parents should come to understand that everyone faces challenges in life hence the children should be taught to overcome those challenges.
The influence of parents in the lives of their children outweighs all the other inputs from other people. Children use their parents as role models. Therefore, they are motivated to learn and overcome the many challenges of learning following encouragement from their parents. However, when the parents think that the students are incapable of reaching their destiny, they get discouraged too and stop working hard. Therefore, parents should show their children that they are talented despite their handicap thus motivate them to go for the best. Additionally, parents should identify the best ways in which their children can learn and communicate this with their teachers. Every child has their unique learning style and identifying it early helps them benefit more in the learning process. They should also remain in constant communication with the school to facilitate a better understanding of the children (Hees et al., 2015).
The focus for the children with disabilities is to ensure life success as opposed to concentrating solely on academic success. Though academic success is crucial for children with disabilities, it is not the only means through which a learner can succeed in life. Therefore, teachers and parents should focus on supporting the children with disabilities not only to pass their exams but also achieve all around growth. Teachers and parents should promote the independent functioning of the disabled children in the society. The success of an individual is determined by many factors including self-consciousness, perseverance, acceptance of help, and the desire to keep trying even in the face of challenges. Parents and teachers should be committed to equipping the learners with broad skills that are necessary for a smooth function in life. The general skills will help the students to work effectively in the society (Harwell & Jackson, 2014).
In conclusion, students with disabilities need an adequate support to benefit from learning and other life activities as they face several challenges on their way to life and academic success. The students should be put in an inclusive classroom where they can maximally benefit from the learning process. The class can have both disabled and non-disabled students who can help each other in the learning process. There should be a regular teacher and a special needs teacher to adequately meet the needs of the learners. The classroom environment should be safe to prevent harm to the students. The teachers should help the students to understand their differences and support others. The realization of individual differences is motivating for their students to equip them with skills for more productivity. Also, the teachers should provide the necessary learning materials for the students which correspond to their learning abilities. Communication should be done with the school and parents to facilitate the understanding of the children and adequate address of their needs. Additionally, teachers should find the cause of abnormal student behavior when they behave unexpectedly. The parents cultivate the learning strategies that the children can cope with. Finally, teacher and parents should be in the forefront to support and act as an advocate for the children with disabilities.
Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., & Smith, D. D. (2016). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. SAGE Publications.\
Eickmeyer, S. M., Do, K. D., Kirschner, K. L., & Curry, R. H. (2012). North American medical schools experience with and approaches to the needs of students with physical and sensory disabilities. Academic Medicine, 87(5), 567-573
Gargiulo, R. M., & Metcalf, D. (2015). Teaching in todays inclusive classrooms: A universal design for learning approach. Nelson Education.
Harwell, J. M., & Jackson, R. W. (2014). The complete learning disabilities handbook: Ready-to-use strategies and activities for teaching students with learning disabilities. John Wiley & Sons.
Rice, M. F., & Carter Jr, R. A. (2015). When We Talk About Compliance, Its Because We Lived It-Online Educators Roles in Supporting Students with Disabilities. Online Learning, 19(5).
Richards, G., & Armstrong, F. (Eds.). (2015). Teaching and learning in diverse and inclusive classrooms: Key issue...
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