How to organize a class based on student needs

Modifying lessons for children with different levels of abilities and multiple impairments is a challenging task for anyone. Here are some things to remember when planning for such a diverse group of


1.) Structure: Choose which students need to be seen individually and which students can benefit

from being part of a group based on the classroom dynamic and their level of communication

ability. Communication abilities can be broken down into:

a.) Non-verbal

b.) Non-verbal and intentional with gesturing

c.) Low verbal (1-2 word utterances)

d.) Verbal

2.) Plan: When preparing lessons for the classroom, keep in mind ways to modify so that all

students can participate and target their goals.

For students with physical impairments: keep things mobile. This will allow students to easily

access materials.

For students that have visual impairments: make sure to include plenty of auditory and tactile

input during your lessons. Sound clips and manipulatives are great.

For students with auditory impairments: Large visual aids and signs should be incorporated into


For students with AAC devices: Learn about the devices used and how the students use them.

You may need to acquire templates for the device or program the device to enhance a lesson

and increase communication.

For students with Behavior Plans: Set clear and consistent rules. Create a separate set of

materials to be used individually by the student for a sense of responsibility and purpose.

3.) Develop a routine: Find ways to keep your sessions consistent so that students know what

to expect. You may choose to begin a session and end a session the same way every time. A

great way to start a session is by choosing a “Question of the Day” or targeting a “Sound of the

Day”. End your sessions with the same song or chant. This will provide a clear start and finish to

speech therapy.

4.) Ask for help: Collaboration is key for successful execution of a lesson that requires multiple

components. Make sure teachers know how you are planning to modify for each student, ask

for their input, and most importantly, ask for help to carry this out.

Don’t be afraid to revise and change throughout the year if you think your students would benefit

from something else. Make sure to keep the lines of communication open with teachers to

continually assess and make changes as necessary. If something doesn’t work, try, try again.

Written by: Scott Prath

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