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Tips for Working with Students with Severe Handicaps

Severe Handicaps in the Inclusional Setting


Typically, children with severe handicaps have behavior concerns and minimal ability or cannot perform or haven't yet learned many of the basic self-help skills. Some sources of research estimate that somewhere between 0.2-0.5% of school aged children are identified as having a severe handicap. Although this population is low, times have changed and these children are rarely excluded from public education. They are in fact a part of special education. After all, with the incredible growing technologies and trained professionals, we can hold higher expectations than previously before possible.

Usually children with severe handicaps are born with it, some of the etiologies and causes include:

  • Chromosomal abnormalities
  • Postnatal difficulties
  • Gestational (prematurity)
  • Maldevelopment of the brain and or spinal cord
  • Infections
  • Genetic disorders
  • Injuries from accidents

There are still major issues related to inclusion of students with severe handicaps. Many teachers don't feel they have the professional training required to meet their needs, schools are often not adequately equipped to meet their needs and more research needs to be done to determine how best their educational needs can be met. However, the reality is that these children have a right to be included into all aspects of society.

Teacher Tips for Working with Children with Severe Handicaps

1. Prior to supporting the specific goal, it is important to make sure you have their attention. Typically, you'll be using a very direct teaching method.

2. As much as possible, use grade appropriate materials.

3. Identify some clear goals/expecations and stick with it, it takes a great deal of time to see success in most cases.

4. Be consistent and have predictable routines for everything you do.

5. Make sure that everything is relevant to the child you are working with.

6. Be sure to track progress carefully which will help you define when the child is ready for the next milestone.

7. Remember that these children don't often generalize so be sure to teach the skill in a variety of settings.

8. When the child has reached the goal, be sure to use the skill regularly to ensure mastery of the skill continues.

In summary, you are a very important person in this child's life. Be patient, willing and warm at all times.

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