An overview of the most common special educational needs (SFB) - symptoms and strategies - technology for students (2023)

In the context of educational provision, the term “Special Educational Needs” (SEN) refers to children who have more difficulty learning or accessing education than most children of the same age, due to a learning difficulty or disability.

In the UK, for example, the Children and Families Act (DfE, 2014a) indicates that a child or young person's needs can fall into at least one of four broad categories:

1.communication and interactionfor example, speech difficulties or autism.

2.cognition and learningfor example, one or more specific learning disabilities, such as dyslexia (reading and spelling), dyscalculia (math), dyspraxia (coordination) or dysgraphia (writing)., mental and emotional health, for example, attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism.

4.sensory and/or physical needsfor example, visual impairment (VI), hearing impairment (HI), multisensory impairment (MSI) or physical impairment.

In 1978, the Warnock Report, which was published to address the problem of special educational needs in England and Wales, estimated that up to 20 per cent of children, during their time at school, might experience a SEN that would require a provision. educational done. Several decades later, we see that this estimate, while somewhat overestimated, is not significantly wrong. Since the report was published, across all schools, year after year, the number of children with special educational needs has averaged about 15 percent. Statistics aside, the fact is that SEN is common in schools around the world. As education professionals committed to inclusive education, where all students have equal opportunities to learn, it is obviously important that we are able to identify and accommodate the needs of our students.

Therefore, I list here some of the most common types of special educational needs (SEN), their symptoms and didactic strategies designed to address them:


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a group of behaviors that includes inattention (failing to stay focused), hyperactivity (excessive movement inappropriate for the environment), and impulsivity (acting in a hurry without thinking). In short, it affects the student's ability to concentrate and be still. ADHD usually presents itself in one of three forms:

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  • – Inattentive ADHD (or simply known as ADD)
  • – Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD
  • – A combination of both

ADHD/ADD symptoms due to inattention:

  • – Egocentric behavior, not paying close attention to details, listening to others, or making careless mistakes.
  • – You find it difficult to stay focused on tasks or activities.
  • – Does not follow through on instructions or fails to complete class work on time.
  • – Has difficulty organizing tasks and work.
  • – Avoids or dislikes tasks that require prolonged mental effort.
  • – Often loses things necessary for homework or daily life, such as school supplies, books, glasses, etc.
  • – Easily distracted and often seems to be daydreaming during lessons.
  • – You forget about everyday tasks like doing routine chores or errands.

Symptoms of Hyperactive/Impulsive ADHD:

  • - Concern. For example, fidgets or taps with hands or feet, or squirms in seat.
  • – Cannot sit in the classroom even for short periods without walking.
  • – Unable to play or carry out leisure activities quietly.
  • - He talks too much.
  • – Gives abrupt answers before the teacher has finished asking a question.
  • - It's hard for him to wait his turn.
  • – Interrupts or intrudes on other people (for example, interrupts conversations, games, or activities, or starts using other students' things without permission).

Key strategies to help students with ADHD:

  1. – Post-class rules for students with and without ADHD. …
  2. – Establish class routines. …
  3. – Provide adequate supervision for students with ADHD. …
  4. – Reduce possible distractions. …
  5. – Use positive pair models. …
  6. – Prepare for transitions. …
  7. – Allow movement. …
  8. – Let the children play.
  9. – Establish a positive relationship with students who have ADHD.
  10. – Provide frequent and positive feedback.
  11. – Ask questions instead of scolding.
  12. – Stimulate practical learning.

2. Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common negative emotion experienced by students. While it can be completely normal and generally considered a mental health issue, anxiety can be a special educational need when it blocks students' ability to think clearly and participate in normal day-to-day learning activities.

In the context of the classroom, anxiety can be easily identified, for example, when a student feels nervous before an exam. At other times, classroom anxiety can feel like something else entirely: an upset stomach, the need to go to the school health room, ADHD, disruptive behavior, or some other learning disorder.

Usually when a student is suffering from extreme anxiety it is obvious to parents. Unfortunately, students suffering from anxiety often don't get the support they need, and this can be made significantly worse by unhelpful teaching strategies.

Among its many symptoms, anxiety can cause:

  • – Obsessive-compulsive disorder: When children's minds are filled with stressful and unwanted thoughts, they tend to perform compulsive rituals such as counting or washing their hands.
  • – Selective mutism: when children have difficulty speaking in some environments, such as near the teacher.
  • – Difficulties sleeping

Key strategies to help students with anxiety:

As a teacher, the best strategies for dealing with student anxiety are based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which aims to help students think about situations in a different way so that they can better manage their anxiety. You don't need to be a CBT expert, you just need to remember that the way you respond to your emotions serves as a model for your students.

While your anxiety may seem completely irrational, students' concerns and fears can be very real. Requiring them to simply "stop worrying" is usually not helpful in reducing anxiety or other challenging emotions. Instead, honestly acknowledging and accepting what the other is feeling may be the most effective response we can make. Research has shown that validating and accepting another person's emotions can have a calming effect on that person. Validation and acceptance of another person's feelings is done by identifying, naming, and sincerely accepting your feelings. For example: "I see that you are very anxious about this task". Accepting and validating students' feelings, as well as naming their emotions, can help them gain some control over their feelings, helping to calm them down. Your empathy can also make students more likely to accept your guidance and be more open with you in the future.

3. Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger's syndrome, which is a condition on the autism spectrum, is often referred to as a difficulty with social skills. This is because people with Asperger's syndrome often have difficulties with communication and social interaction.

Among the main characteristics of individuals with Asperger Syndrome, Williams (1995) identified the following:

  • – Insistence that things remain as they are and can be easily overcome by small changes in routines, showing a preference for rituals.
  • – Unable to understand the “rules” of interaction, with deficiencies in abstract meaning, poor understanding of jokes and metaphors.
  • – Preoccupation with unique topics, such as train schedules or maps.
  • – Lack of attention, easy distraction and poor organizational skills.
  • – Poor hand-eye coordination: for example, no success in games involving fine motor skills.
  • – Emotional vulnerability: easily overwhelmed, little coping with stressors, self-critical.

Williams, K. (1995). Understanding the student with Asperger Syndrome: Guidelines for teachers. Focus on Autistic Behavior, 10, 9-16.

Key strategies to help students with Asperger's:

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1. Keep classroom routines clear and consistent by giving these students as much notice as possible when you become aware of a change or disruption to their schedule.

2. Remember that students with AS often find it easier to concentrate when they are not making eye contact, and forcing them to look at you can break their concentration.

3. As students with AS find it difficult to stay organized, develop a schedule with them to keep track of homework and other tasks.

4. Many students with AS have difficulty accepting the perspectives of others, so be explicit and direct when explaining your own thoughts and feelings. It really helps to be specific with your guidelines (eg, "leave your work on my desk when you're done with this task" instead of "turn in your work when you're done"). Analogies, idioms, metaphors and sarcasm should also be avoided.

5. Remember that students with AS are generally more advanced in language production than comprehension. This means that although the student may be speaking very intelligibly about a topic, he may not understand the meaning of what he is saying.

6. Remember that students with AS are often unable to see a situation from anyone else's perspective other than their own. Reading and working with published joke books can help students practice this "perspective shift." Comic books can also be useful for practice in this regard.

4. Dyscalculia

Dyscalculia is a learning disability that causes a student to have problems developing math skills and understanding. Children with dyscalculia have delayed counting and problems memorizing arithmetic rules and operations.

Key strategies to help students with dyscalculia:

1. Write or draw the problem

Talking about a problem or writing a problem down can help you see relationships between elements. Simply rephrasing the word problems in a new way can also help to better understand the problem. Likewise, drawing the problem can also help visual learners see relationships and understand concepts.

2. Divide tasks into subsets

Breaking a problem down into its different parts and solving them one at a time can help students focus, see the connections, and avoid feeling overwhelmed.

3. Use physical objects

Relating math to a real-life context can help students with dyscalculia understand math concepts. Items such as measuring cups, scales and counting objects help ensure that concepts are less abstract and easier to manipulate.

5. Dysgraphia

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Dysgraphia refers to the difficulty associated with acquiring and remembering the ability to write letters and numbers. By affecting the ability to learn the sequence of fine motor skills needed to be able to write, dysgraphia can also cause a person to have difficulty with the order or sequence of words and numbers. This can mean that words, letters and numbers are written out of order or even backwards.

Symptoms can include:

  • – Difficulty organizing thoughts and writing them down.
  • – Slow and laborious writing
  • – odd spacing
  • – Bad spelling and grammar
  • – Lack of sentence and paragraph structure.

Key strategies to help students with dysgraphia:

  1. – Before asking a student to begin an activity like typing or handwriting, it's good to shake hands, rotate wrists, wiggle fingers, and maybe even squeeze a stress ball. This helps get the blood flowing and prepares the muscles.

  2. – Encourage the student to learn typing. Computers are recommended for people with dysgraphia because they reduce the number of variables that need to be controlled, including letter formation, letter and word spacing, and of course, typing text from left to right along a line. straight line. Additionally, they facilitate proofreading without the stigma of tombstones and provide access to spell checkers.
  3. Provide different colored pens and paper. This is because sometimes it can make a difference to write by hand on paper that has, for example, thick or embossed lines. Fine motor skills also affect the way an individual holds a pen or pencil, so it makes sense to give the dysgraphic student a thicker pen or pencil with an eraser handle.

  4. – Provide audio recordings. Writing is a cognitively demanding activity for people that becomes even more challenging when they need to receive information during a class and write it down. It may also be helpful to simply provide the dysgraphic student with important notes that can be written down.

It is important to note that dysgraphia often coincides with dyslexia and dyspraxia, although it is different from them. In the case of dyspraxia, it refers to a problem that affects fine and gross motor skills. Dyspraxia often causes problems with coordination and writing, but you can benefit from the same strategies used to treat dysgraphia.

6. Dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that makes it difficult to understand words and language.

Common symptoms of dyslexia are:

  • – Confusing letters like b and d, either when reading or writing
  • - Missing letters when trying to spell a word
  • – Very slow and hesitant reading and lack of fluency.
  • – Skip entire sections of text when reading or rereading the same section.
  • – Put letters and numbers backwards;
  • – Weak organizational and time management skills;
  • – Poor memory and concentration.

The impact of dyslexia can vary significantly, so it is important to properly assess need and establish what special educational offerings are needed.

Key strategies to help students with dyslexia:

  • – Use bullet points, which are more readable than blocks of text for dyslexic students.
  • – If possible, use a pastel color for handouts, as many dyslexic students have particular difficulties deciphering black and white letters.
  • – Provide a word bank with a list of keywords and their meanings for easy reading.
  • – As with dysgraphic students, typing can be a useful skill to encourage dyslexic students to learn. That's because typing allows students to work faster and deal with more information.
  • In addition to computers, there are a variety of other assistive technologies and peripherals that can be helpful, such as pocket spell checkers, line readers (to zoom in and highlight the part of the text you hover over) and color keyboards.

7. Hearing impairment

Hearing impairment results from a deficiency in the sound signal reaching the brain, not how the brain interprets that signal. If not adapted, it can have a significant impact on a student's ability to access learning.

Key strategies to help students with hearing impairments:

  • – Make sure students with hearing loss are seated at the front of the class where they will hear best and have an unobstructed line of sight.
  • – As much as possible, minimize any background noise.
  • – Clearly repeat any question or answer made by other students in the class before giving an answer.
  • – Do not speak with your back to the students, for example, facing the blackboard. Please note that lip reading learners cannot function in dark rooms, so you may need to adjust the lighting in your teaching environment.
  • – Provide written materials to supplement all lessons.
  • – Flexible electronic delivery of learning materials is particularly helpful for students with hearing loss, as they can catch up at home with whatever they missed during class.

8. Oppositional Defiant Disorder

Oppositional defiant disorder is a psychiatric disorder that causes students to have behavioral problems and can have a serious impact on their ability to learn. Typically, a student with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) will display persistent aggression and disobedience, particularly in terms of opposition to authority figures such as teachers, while tending to conform to other basic social rules and behaviors.

The behavior must exhibit at least five of the following:

  • – Frequent loss of temper
  • – Arguing frequently with adults and/or actively challenging rules and requests from authority figures.
  • – Deliberately seeks to annoy others
  • - blaming others
  • – Being overly sensitive
  • – Increased anger or resentment towards others.
  • - Spiteful or vindictive behavior
  • – Swearing frequently

Key strategies to help students with ODD:

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1. Stay calm. Avoid, for example, raising your voice or showing any emotion. Don't get into an argument, just say and repeat what happens when a rule is broken. Be as clear, immediate and consistent as possible when the student misbehaves.

2. Find out what the student really enjoys doing and identify any skills or positive attributes you can reinforce.

3. Praise these students one by one, eg. to say "This is exceptional." By doing this, you will build a better relationship and more trust.

4. From the beginning, meet privately with the student and establish that you will be respectful of each other. Once this is done, you can be calm and sincere in explaining specific concerns about the student's actions. Together, decide on a behavior contract that can be shared with the student and parents.

5. When necessary, meet with the parent and student so that all can present a united front. After raising the issue, think of ways to help the student improve their behavior. Agree to a behavior contract for the behaviors required for the student to be successful in school.

9. Visual impairment

A visual impairment can have a significant and varied impact on a student's ability to access learning. It's the result of a deficiency in the light signal reaching the brain, not how the brain interprets that signal. As such, it is distinct from visual processing disorder.

Key strategies to help visually impaired students:

1. Explain any visual material. When you are teaching a blind or visually impaired student, it is important to clearly explain all visual materials. For example, if you show an image to illustrate a point, you must describe the image. You can say something like: “I have placed a picture of Henry VIII in the frame to illustrate how he was portrayed. She is wearing a large dress with lots of detailed embroidery. It shows her wealth and power.”

2. Replace visual cues with audio cues. For example, you can have students clap twice if they want to ask a question. This is because it is traditional for students to raise their hand if they want to speak during a lesson. However, blind or visually impaired students may not notice when their peers raise their hands.

3. Incorporate as many tactile learning experiences as possible. For example, instead of talking about plants and showing pictures of different types of plants, you could have physical plants available in the classroom for students to touch and manipulate.

4. Write in dark colors on the board. It's best to write with a black marker on a board and always write in pictures and large letters to help readability. This is because visually impaired students will need written material to be presented in high contrast so that they can read. Color should only be used sparingly, such as titles.

For blind students, assistive technologies such as dictation machines/smartphone apps (to record lectures), braille textbooks/pamphlets, and e-readers (to convert text to speech) should be used.

Final considerations…

More and more teachers around the world are facing the challenge of how to integrate students with special educational needs into their regular classroom. This is in part the result of a general trend towards accommodating students with special educational needs in mainstream schools rather than in more specialized school environments.

The most important thing to remember is that, as educators, we have a responsibility to ensure that all students, regardless of potential SEN, receive a comprehensive, balanced and appropriate education. Where appropriate and relevant, you should liaise with parents and external professionals to support you in this educational offering. Generally speaking, whatever a student's special educational needs, it is also important to be adaptable and flexible, giving these students additional time to complete their assignments and tests.

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What are the most common special educational needs? ›

Types of special educational needs
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) support. ...
  • Autism (ASC) support. ...
  • Specific learning difficulties. ...
  • Speech, language and communication needs. ...
  • Physical disabilities. ...
  • Social and emotional mental health needs. ...
  • Sensory health services.

How does technology help students with special needs? ›

Tablets/Handheld Touchscreen Computers

These devices are useful for visual learning, reading, drawing, and watching videos. They can help students with motor impairments improve their coordination and those with reading disabilities comprehend written information via text-to-speech apps.

What are the three components of special education that are intended to allow students to reach their full potential? ›

That's three separate, distinct, and critical elements–special education, related services, and supplementary aids and services–and each is worthy of a book on its own. Don't worry!

What are some examples of challenges that may qualify a student as special needs? ›

While there are many reasons that students could be eligible, some common conditions include:
  • attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • autism.
  • cognitive challenges.
  • developmental delays.
  • emotional disorders.
  • hearing problems.
  • learning problems.
  • physical disabilities.

What are the most common special needs? ›

Common Disabilities
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Learning Disabilities.
  • Mobility Disabilities.
  • Medical Disabilities.
  • Psychiatric Disabilities.
  • Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Visual Impairments.
  • Deaf and Hard of Hearing.

What is the most common special education disability? ›

  1. Dyslexia. Dyslexia is perhaps the best known learning disability. ...
  2. ADHD. Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder has affected more than 6.4 million children at some point. ...
  3. Dyscalculia. Math is another major area of concern when it comes to learning disabilities. ...
  4. Dysgraphia. ...
  5. Processing Deficits.

What are the technologies that are popular in the special education? ›

Types of Technology for Special Education
  • Text-to-Speech Technology. ...
  • Voice-recognition software. ...
  • Sip-and-Puff Systems. ...
  • Virtual reality technology. ...
  • Assistive Technology for Writing. ...
  • Math Learning Tools. ...
  • Touchscreen Technology.
Jan 9, 2020

What is assistive technology for special education give two examples? ›

Assistive technology can range from no and low tech solutions to high tech solutions.
Examples include:
  • memory aids,
  • text-to-speech systems to support learning (not related to vision needs),
  • reminder systems,
  • notetaking systems,
  • mobile devices with specialized apps, and.
  • audio books.

What is assistive technology for special needs? ›

Assistive technology (AT) is defined as any device, piece of equipment, or system that helps to enhance lives and accommodate people with special needs, impairments, or disabilities. While its very broad, it can be broken down into more traditional types of technology and a more modern take on the term.

What are 5 special education components? ›

Answer and Explanation: The behavior, limited English proficiency, blind or visually impaired, communication needs or deaf or hard of hearing, and assistive technology are the five factors that IEP team must determine to make special education effective for the students with disabilities.

What are the three types of special education intervention? ›

What Is Intervention in Education?
  • Proactive: Deals with areas of need before they become a larger obstacle to education.
  • Intentional: Specifically addresses an observed weakness.
  • Formal: Uses targeted methods for addressing specific needs and tracks progress.
Oct 15, 2019

What are the seven core elements of special education? ›

  • Teaching Trends.
  • Classroom Management.
  • Curriculum & Assessment.
  • Personalized Learning.
  • ELL.
  • Universal Design for Learning.
  • Literacy.
  • College and Career Readiness.
Nov 22, 2016

What are the 4 major types of special needs children? ›

The four major types of disabilities include physical, developmental, behavioral or emotional, and sensory impaired disorders. While many disabilities fall under one of these four umbrellas, many can fall under two or more.

What do most students with learning disabilities have problem with? ›

Students with learning disabilities (LD) have difficulty acquiring basic skills or academic content due to difficulty using or understanding spoken or written language. These difficulties may impact a student's ability to read, write, spell, think, speak, listen, or do mathematics.

What is the most frequent academic challenge of students with learning disabilities? ›

Reading difficulties are observed among students with learning disabilities more than any other problem area of academic performance. It is the most prevalent type of academic difficulty for students with learning disabilities.

What are three examples of people with special needs? ›

Special needs can range from people with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, dyslexia, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia, blindness, deafness, ADHD, and cystic fibrosis. They can also include cleft lips and missing limbs.

What are the three types of special needs? ›

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Behavior Disorders.

What are 1 of the most common specific learning disabilities? ›

Commonly recognized specific learning disabilities include: Reading disability (dyslexia) - is the most common LD, representing at least 80% of all LDs, and results from deficits in phonologic processing.

What are the 4 leading disabilities in the United States? ›

The report also shows that: After mobility disability, the next most common disability type is cognition, followed by independent living, hearing, vision, and self-care.

What is the most common type of mild disability among students? ›

Some of the most common mild learning disabilities include dyslexia, which impacts reading, dysgraphia, which impacts writing, and dyscalculia, which impacts math and organization. ADHD and auditory processing disorder can also affect students' ability to learn.

What is the most used technology in the classroom? ›

Tablets. It's hard to believe that tablets have been around for less than two decades. These devices are part of our daily lives, and they're one of the most-used types of technology in the classroom.

What type of technology provides developmentally appropriate instruction to students with disabilities? ›

Assistive technology (AT) is available to help individuals with many types of disabilities — from cognitive problems to physical impairment.

What technology do schools use for autism? ›

Captioning is a valuable assistive technology for autism in the classroom because it can support a wide range of course materials. From live classes to online lectures and more, captions offer another way to access information.

What are the 3 levels of assistive technology? ›

Assistive technology devices can be viewed along a continuum of low-, mid-, and high-tech items.

What is an example of assistive technology for children with learning disabilities? ›

9 examples of assistive technology and adaptive tools in school
  • Audio players and recorders. Kids may find it helpful to listen to the words while reading them on the page. ...
  • Timers. ...
  • Reading guides. ...
  • Seat cushions. ...
  • FM listening systems. ...
  • Calculators. ...
  • Writing supports. ...
  • Graphic organizers.

What is assistive technology on an IEP? ›

The term “assistive technology device” means any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of a child with a disability.

What make up the largest category in special education? ›

Till the date, Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD) has been considered the largest category of disability within the Individuals for Disabilities Education Act.

What are the most common needs of students? ›

Basic needs refer to the most essential resources required to thrive as a student including safety, food, housing, financial health and overall wellness (physical, psychological, and spiritual). For students to be active and engaged learners, it is important that their basic needs are met.

What are the most common childhood disabilities? ›

Child Development Specific Conditions
  • Anxiety.
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorders.
  • Cerebral Palsy.
  • Conduct Disorder (CD)
  • Depression.
  • Developmental Disabilities.
  • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.


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