design activities for our typical three- to five-year olds and then modify them for the
individual students with special needs. Even though we do the activity as a group, we
focus on different objectives for different students. This year I have such a range of
children with special needs. Some have severe cognitive issues while others have no
cognitive issues. Some have severe motor issues while others have only minor ones. So
things have to be individually modified. You have to allow for the different ways children
take in information.
So, for example, tomorrow we're going to make fish. Typical students will identify the colors, shapes, etc. My objective for Martha (a child with cognitive delays) is that she make a choice between colors, rather than name them. I can put up two colors and she'll express a preference. Getting her to make eye contact with the paint, to pay attention to the paint, that's an appropriate objective for Martha.
Martha also has sensory integration issues with the palm of her hand, so she will need to choose the material she wants to paint with, or she may want to just use her hand. If I want to introduce a new texture to Martha, I might limit her choices so that she uses something other than her hand. In this way she can work on what she needs to work on--making choices, having control, the sensory integration issues, taking turns--whereas many of her peers have developed these skills.
Barbara comments on other key elements
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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP) in collaboration with the Center for Literacy and Disabilities (CLD) at Duke University. NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013. Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information. If you do so, please cite NCIP. Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by CLD, NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government. This site was last updated in September 1998.
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