Educating the Exceptional Learner

Topics: Traumatic brain injury, Disability, Special education Pages: 6 (2141 words) Published: August 18, 2013
Running Head: Emotional, Behavioral, and Physical Disabilities

Emotional, Behavioral, and Physical Disabilities
Marie Butler-Goble
Grand Canyon University
Professor Amy Petrovich
April 28, 2013

Emotional, Behavioral, and Physical Disabilities
Teaching students who have emotional, behavioral, and physical disabilities such as hearing or vision loss or traumatic brain injury can be challenging. The experience can also be extremely rewarding for educators who through effective teaching strategies provide a positive learning environment for students who might otherwise be excluded. Students with disabilities learn differently than non-disabled students, but teachers must not limit their expectations or aspirations for a special needs student any more than they would for a non-disabled student. Through praise and encouragement these special students can learn academically and also learn hope, motivation and optimism for the future. This paper will examine effective teaching strategies for students with disabilities, how teachers can nurture these students and enhance their self-advocacy skills and the part non-disabled students play in the education of disabled students.

Before an educator can develop and put effective teaching strategies in place he or she must first understand the student’s disability, the student’s strengths and weaknesses, and learning preferences. All strategies must be IEP driven. Students with emotional behavior disorders are defined as those who have “An inability to learn which cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors; an inability to build or maintain satisfactory relationships with peers and teachers and inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. Teachers must understand what triggers episodes of maladaptive behavior. Only then can the educator focus on replacing maladaptive behavior with adaptive behaviors, increasing self-regulation, building appropriate academic skills and dispositions, increasing self-awareness, increasing cooperative behavior, building self-esteem, and acquiring age-appropriate self-control” (Hardman, 2009).

Because students with special needs often do not do well with changes in routine the first effective teaching strategy must be to establish a positive, structured classroom environment. Rules should be clearly stated and apply to all students in the room including those with EBD’s. Students with EBD’s may at times be aggressive and have difficulty building social relationships. Teachers must make clear to all students that bullying is an unacceptable behavior, make sure students understand that anyone who engages in bullying in any form will face negative consequences, and be perfectly clear as to exactly what those consequences are.

Students with behavioral issues have problems with goal setting, self-monitoring and self-reinforcement. The teacher must work closely with the student to help master these skills through direct instruction and by providing positive feedback and reinforcement. Cooperative learning and peer tutoring will promote the learning of all children in the classroom and develop more positive, cooperative relationships between students. Non-disabled students must also be taught how to best respond to a student with an EBD. There may be occasions when the student needs space and time to calm down and to regulate his or her own behavior. Classmates need to respect and respond to that need. Allowing the student time to regroup in his or her own way may be as comforting to them as giving a hug would be to a non-disabled peer who is upset or hurt. Providing a nurturing, non-judgmental environment, creating opportunities to foster social relationships, helping the child learn self-regulation and goal setting skills will increase their self-esteem and self-confidence and is a form of self-advocacy for the EBD student. For functional educational...

References: Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. (1996). Special Needs Technology Assessment Resource Support Team (START). Meeting the Needs of Students with Visual Impairment. Retrieved April 22, 2013 from
Brust, S. (2013). Personal Interview. Dare Elementary School, Yorktown, VA. April 22, 2013.
Hardman, M.L., Drew, C.J., & Egan, M.W. (2009). Human Exceptionality: School, Community, and Family (10th ed.).
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