What do I need to know about the development of children who have disabilities to understand how they learn?

Each child with a disability develops in unique ways just as all children do. Children with the same disability may be very different from each other. They are different in the ways they develop and learn because of the factors that influence development and learning in all children. For example, one child who is blind from birth may develop with age appropriate developmental milestones and another child who is also blind from birth may experience developmental delays.

Factual Information

It is important to focus on each child's observable behavior to make decisions about their development and how to provide an appropriate teaching and learning environment and not determine strategies based on a child's disability. Children with the same disabilities will respond to the same influences in different ways. For example, one child diagnosed with autism may like and benefit from an environment with background music and another child also diagnosed with autism may dislike and find background music distracting to his or her learning.

As a classroom teacher, you should apply to your student who has a disability what you know about student development at the grade level you teach and how students' life experiences affect learning. Collaborating with all team members will assist you in integrating all your knowledge and applying it to your student who has a disability.

Classroom Activities

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