• Excerpt from Teaching Language Arts, Math, & Science to Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities - Diane M. Browder and Fred Spooner


    "Reading!? He can't read! He can't even talk!"

    "Combating this sentiment requires some courage, a clear understanding of others' perceptions, and knowledge of what is possible....judging certain students as being incapable of engaging in literacy activities based on some preconceived notions of ability level does not have merit. Too many individuals who have been told that they can't do something have gone on to prove the teller wrong. A more positive approach is to regard all students as capable of learning and then ensure that the appropriate supports and strategies are provided to make this a reality." *


    Why teach the curriculum?

    "Something radically different is happening in educational services for students with severe disabilities...Access to the general curriculum was required in earlier federal legislation (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act [IDEA '97] Amendments of 1997, PL105-17), but now the requirements are specific. Access means more than being exposed to content such as reading and mathematics-access means academic progress. Although it does not necessarily mean mastering all the grade-level content, it does mean mastering some alternate achievement standards for each grade level." *


    Why teach Academic Content?

    "The primary reason to teach academic content to students with severe disabilities is to promote equal access to the educational content all students receive. In the past, educators have sometimes assumed that students with severe disabilities needed a totally separate functional curriculum based on the nature and severity of the disability...Because of the lack of opportunity to receive instruction in content such as reading and math, many students' potential to learn these skills is unknown." *

    "Although not all students with severe disabilities will learn to read or do math, all may benefit from learning selected content within each grade level of their school career...Overall, there is evidence that students with significant disabilities can learn to read." *

    "Although some may tout the need for the teaching of "functional life skills" for these students, in this author's mind, that's exactly what reading is - a very functional skill. Reading and writing provide lifelong opportunities for learning, for sharing what we know with others and for enjoyment."


    *Highlighting ours to show emphasis




    "Teachers of students with severe disabilities need to embrace the notion that all children are active, constructive learners who seek to make some sense of what they perceive in their environment."

    "The need for students with severe disabilities to be immersed in literacy contexts has been demonstrated and promoted by a number of researchers in the field." 


    Koppenhaver, Pierce, Steelman & Yoder, 1995;

    Saint-Laurent, Giasson & Couture, 1997;

    Stratton, 1996



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Last Modified on August 9, 2018