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Higher-Incidence Disabilities

Teaching individuals with Higher-Incidence Disabilities requires a multilevel instructional approach to ensure that all children learn and fulfill their potential. The term “Higher-Incidence Disabilities” refers to those disabilities that occur more frequently in a population than other disabilities. Such conditions include Emotional Disturbances, Learning Disabilities, Speech and Language Impairments, Intellectual Disabilities, and ADHD (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2018). When these disability types occur at greater rates than the general population of students in your class, you are required by law to provide support through multiple tiers to meet the needs of all learners. Higher-Incidence Disabilities affect both the school community and the individual student. These conditions must be addressed in a multidisciplinary manner through a combination of strategies. This essay will address some of the Higher-Incidence Disabilities alongside adaptations that may be implemented to foster learning for the individuals.

Individuals with speech and language impairments or language deficiencies have difficulty understanding and using language in their daily lives. They tend to have difficulty following directions and expressing their thoughts. Individuals with language deficiencies often do not understand nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language. This can make it very hard for them to figure out what is happening or what is expected of them in a social situation (Fletcher & Grigorenko, 2017). Adaptations that may be necessary include additional verbal directions, written directions, body language cues, and speech-to-text technology. Teachers may include directions in large print and visual aids such as charts and diagrams for preparations. Individualized printed materials may be especially helpful for children who have language limitations. Children with language deficiencies benefit from having an individualized peer or buddy who helps them to learn about new concepts—working with people who are similar to the child’s age level and have similar speech or language patterns so that he can easily understand them. The facilitators may implement modifications necessary for sound systems, noise levels, and room openness for students with speech and language impairments (Boyle & Kennedy, 2019). Additionally, teachers may have to adapt a carefully designed curriculum to address a child’s language deficits. For instructional procedures, adaptations may include using alternative methods to teach concepts. Teachers may have to adapt assessment criteria that foster evaluation of a child’s developmental process in terms of strengths and weaknesses to make necessary modifications in the learning process.

Children with learning disabilities are below average in intelligence, with an IQ of below 70; as such, they do not learn as quickly or effectively as their peers. They may have difficulty with one or more areas of learning, including reading/writing (dyslexia), mathematics (dyscalculia), motor skills (dyspraxia), perceptual skills (dyslexia), and language arts and social studies (dysgraphia) (Fletcher & Grigorenko, 2017). Adaptations that may be necessary include multisensory instruction; this is often provided through pictures, models, manipulatives, and computer programs. Teachers may integrate verbal and nonverbal strategies for preparatory techniques to help students understand the thinking process. Teachers may also need to work with students on handwriting by implementing fun writing activities to boost the learners’ skills. Students with learning disabilities often need an individualized buddy or peer or a special teacher who can help them learn the basics. Teachers may have to modify the classroom, for example, using low lighting and seating adjusted for each student to develop a suitable physical environment for the learners (Boyle & Kennedy, 2019). Furthermore, instructors create modified materials such as alternative books that enhance procedural learning for the students. Teachers may use multisensory approaches for instructional procedures to enhance memorability and student engagement. Some students with learning disabilities may need modified or hidden-data tests to determine their pace and learning capabilities.

Students with intellectual disabilities have lower than average intelligence. Usually, they have significant limitations in two or more areas of daily functioning, such as self-care, social, work, and communication skills. Adaptations may be necessary, including finding alternative ways to teach instruction; this is often done through pictures, models, and graphic organizers. Teachers can use verbal strategies to help students learn the content. Additionally, teachers can pair students based on their similar levels of functioning to foster peer engagement and learning. Facilitators may need to implement a sensory-friendly approach to create a safe classroom environment and prevent injury. For assessments, students with intellectual disabilities are often at a disadvantage in standardized testing; therefore, teachers need to create individually based tests that require the student to perform meaningful tasks.

Students with emotional disturbances are very sensitive to stress and often have difficulty controlling their emotions. They may have difficulty regulating emotions and responding appropriately or disturb their emotion processing and communication skills. They can become frustrated easily and behave inappropriately; they also tend to be withdrawn from their peers (Fletcher & Grigorenko, 2017). Adaptations may include providing a quiet place for the child who needs time to calm down; sometimes, medication may be necessary for the child who responds best if his body is not stressed. Using alternative approaches such as multisensory learning, repetition, and illustrating in preparation helps build the child’s confidence. For peer relationships, the teacher may have to individualize the peer group because of the disruptive behavior of some students with emotional disturbances. Instructors may have to deflect disruptive behavior by moving where they are standing or having them sit away from others. Since it is rather a precedented eventuality that materials, including lab equipment and computers, will be damaged, such items must be placed in a place that can be monitored and watched carefully (Boyle & Kennedy, 2019). Teachers can use strategies such as peer coaching and team teaching for instructional procedures. Institutions must also offer co-teaching to such students so that as an instructor is teaching, the other can assist (Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2018).

Students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are frequently difficult to manage and may experience great difficulty remaining focused on their work. They have very short attention spans, often interrupt the teacher and peers, and may have difficulty staying on task. Adaptations that may be necessary include using more alternative materials such as reading to the students if they cannot concentrate enough to read most of their schoolwork; this is because some students with ADHD can be distracted by general non-school activities such as television or computer game play. For preparatory techniques, using multisensory learning approaches will help improve students’ self-regulation skills. The instructors may find it crucial to individualize the peer groups because some students with ADHD may have difficulty maintaining friendships. For physical environments, teachers may have to provide modifications such as larger desks and tables so that the student can stay calm while concentrating on schoolwork (Boyle & Kennedy, 2019). Instructors can modify the work text to include pictures and picture clarification and offer students opportunities to test their skills rather than assigning a specific task.

Each student is unique and requires an individualized approach to their learning problems. Although each student may benefit from the same adaptations, their success will depend on many factors. The instructor must therefore consider what adjustments can be made or what accommodations are needed for all students to meet the needs of each individual and create a safe environment.


Boyle, J. R., & Kennedy, M. J. (2019). Innovations in classroom technology for students with disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic55(2), 67-70.

Fletcher, J. M., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2017). Neuropsychology of learning disabilities: The past and the future. Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society23(9-10), 930-940.

Mastropieri, M., & Scruggs, T. (2018). The inclusive classroom. Pearson.


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