Effective Teaching Strategies for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

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According to Heward (2009), students with intellectual disabilities have significant limitations in both intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior. Learning, reasoning, and problem solving, as well as conceptual, social, and practical skills are all areas of difficulty for these students. While students with intellectual disabilities usually have poor memories, slow learning rates, attention problems, difficulty generalizing what they have learned and lack of motivation, there are effective educational strategies that teachers can use to help these students be more successful and ultimately improve their quality of life. Heward (2009), believes that students with intellectual disabilities learn best when instruction is …show more content…
All students in the study maintained the newly learned skill 2 weeks later regardless of which strategy was used. Not only did this video show the importance of using task analysis and visual supports with students with intellectual disabilities, but it also showed the importance of teaching for generalization and maintenance from school to other environments. As noted by Heward (2009), community-based instruction is an excellent way for students to increase likelihood of the generalization and maintenance of a new skill. Once simulation training is done in the classroom, teaching in the actual setting with real stimuli helps students become more independent. It is also important that skills are taught and practiced over and over with feedback that is, “specific, immediate, positive, frequent and differential” (Heward, 2009). Another strategy that is crucial to the development of students with intellectual disabilities is social skills instruction. According to Heward (2009), teaching students appropriate social and interpersonal skills is essential because of their limited cognitive processing skills, poor language development, and inappropriate behaviors. In a study by Elliot, Pring and Bunning (2002), the effects of social skills training on adolescents with intellectual disabilities was examined by assessing their teacher’s measure of their learning and their own perception of their learning. Kavale and Forness (1996) found that social skills
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