Inclusive Education for Special Needs Students | Resilient Educator (2023)

Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources

By The Editorial Team

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Inclusive education involves teaching all students in the same age-appropriate general education classroom at their local school, regardless of the challenges they face. The philosophy of inclusive education promotes the idea that students with disabilities are just as competent as students without disabilities. Successful inclusive education for students with disabilities involves accepting their differences, ensuring they feel supported and encouraging them to participate fully in the classroom.

Take a look at the benefits of inclusive education and what strategies teachers can use to ensure classrooms are welcoming and accessible to all students.

(Video) The Inclusion Classroom: An Inclusive Education Movement

Benefits of inclusive classrooms

Students with or without disabilities benefit from inclusive education in a variety of ways. For instance, teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms can lead to:

  • Greater academic gains in literacy, math, and social studies
  • Better communication and social skills
  • Fewer absences
  • Less disruptive behavior
  • More motivation to work and learn

Research shows that students without special needs also benefit from learning alongside those with special needs, developing both their cognitive and social abilities. This is generally because inclusive classrooms can enable new learning opportunities to emerge. Serving as a peer coach, for instance, can enable students without special needs to improve their own academic performance by helping others learn.

Classroom teachers can start by providing instruction using learning modalities that cater to a diverse range of learners, which should end up benefiting all students in a general classroom.

Creating an inclusive classroom for students with disabilities

When developing inclusive classrooms for students with disabilities, it’s crucial to review the individual education plan (IEP) of each student before incorporating new methods. The type of disability that a student has can determine what strategies work best.

Learning disabilities

Students with learning disabilities succeed academically when given specific remedial instructions. This could involve breaking down an assignment into smaller steps, using diagrams or pictures to emphasize directions and modeling instructions to help students visualize what they need to do.

Scaffolding practices can also make a difference. Start with an explicit instruction to help students acquire a new skill before easing them into the next learning segment. Asking students about their processes and encouraging them to monitor their own progress can help them better grasp what they’re learning.

Down syndrome

Full-inclusion special education for students with Down syndrome should involve a multisensory-based program. Multisensory instruction engages more than one sense at a time, such as pairing visuals with auditory instructions or demonstrations of how to complete a task.

Breaking instructions into smaller steps and repeating small chunks of information can make it easier for students to retain what they’re reading or viewing. Because students with Down syndrome learn at a slower pace than their peers, allowing adequate response time ensures they have a chance to apply what they’ve learned on their own.

(Video) Inclusive Education for Special Needs Kids | Rahma Hussaini | TEDxKids@Mbora


Students with autism may have sensory processing difficulties and need quieter classrooms, dimmer lights, and minimal smells toparticipate fully. Creating designated learning areas can provide students with a distraction-free zone to focus on their work. Using visuals to establish classroom boundaries or explain activities can better communicate expectations and help students become more independent.

Health impairments

Health impairments can be due to a variety of conditions, such as arthritis, epilepsy, ADHD, and seizure disorder. Each condition comes with unique impairments and modifying the classroom with technology can make it easier for students to learn and communicate. Providing assignments electronically or audio-recording lessons helps students access materials on their own if they find it difficult to focus. Peer coaches can also provide guidance during hands-on activities for students with physical limitations.

Emotional disturbances

Students who suffer from Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBDs) may find it difficult to practice impulse control or interact with other students. Providing clear classroom guidelines and implementing a reward system that recognizes positive behavior can influence students to engage with their peers and do well in their lessons.

EBD students may also struggle to focus for long periods. Providing mini-breaks or extra time to finish assignments throughout the school day gives students a chance to burn off excess energy or catch up with the rest of the class.

Orthopedic impairments

Classroom accessibility is one of the major challenges students with orthopedic impairments face. If the student is in a wheelchair, they may require special tables or seats to participate comfortably. Writing aids, such as pencil grips or special paper, can benefit students with upper limb disabilities. Teachers may also need to modify lesson plans and class activities for accessibility. For instance, assigning a peer mentor or special tasks the student can accomplish on their own while still being part of the group can help them feel included.

Hearing impairments

Students with a hearing impairment may require assistive devices, such as an induction loop or a transmitter with a clip-on microphone worn by the teacher, to succeed in the classroom. Written materials and captioned videos can make it easier for students to understand instructions.

Assigning students with hearing loss a seat in the front row ensures they have a clear view of the whiteboard, projector, or instructor, especially if they lip-read. Teachers can take an extra step by facing the class instead of the board when lecturing and allowing students to record lectures to better access information.

Visual impairments

Inclusive activities for visually-impaired students require verbal instruction for them to participate fully. Alternative options may need to be offered if the activities are off-campus. Supplying course materials electronically can also help students adapt information to a more suitable format, such as audio.

(Video) Inclusive Education and Children with Disabilities | UNICEF

Because students with visual impairments may take longer to read or complete assignments, making a weekly or monthly schedule can help them plan accordingly and get a head start if they wish. Providing audio-recorded comments on tasks instead of written comments can make feedback and instruction more accessible.

Multiple disabilities

Students can have multiple physical or mental disabilities that make the classroom environment more difficult to navigate. Rather than rigidly sticking to a singular program for all students to follow, provide students with disabilities an individualized schedule with alternative assignments or tasks that align with their needs.Ensuring there are minimal distractions in the classroom and that class materials are available in multiple formats can help students stay focused and get the information they need. Having a separate, quieter room available for exams or other solo tasks can help students successfully complete their work in a distraction-free zone.


Inclusive classrooms offer a plethora of advantages for students with disabilities, as well as those without. By introducing certain teaching strategies and adapting the instruction to guarantee access, students can have an improved educational experience. For instance, individualized timetables for a range of impairments and providing course material electronically for those with visual impairments can help generate a learning atmosphere that caters to everyone’s needs. All in all, inclusive classrooms can help cultivate a feeling of fellowship and acceptance, allowing for a more fulfilling learning experience.

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Tags: Early Childhood and Elementary (Grades: PreK-5), Early Childhood Education, Educational Technology, High School (Grades: 9-12), Leadership and Administration, Mid-Career Teacher, New Teacher, Professional Development, Special Education


What is the role of special educator in inclusive education? ›

The special educator ensures the involvement of parents of students with additional requisites in the educational processes of their children. The special educator collaborates closely with teachers, other professionals and administrators to foster the teaching and learning of students with additional requisites.

How can teachers apply the inclusive education for students who have special needs? ›

There are many ways that inclusive education can be implemented in schools. One way is to modify the teaching methods, materials, and resources used in the classroom. This can be done by creating visual aids and learning tools that are accessible to all students, regardless of their abilities.

What is inclusive education in special needs education? ›

It is meant to widen opportunity for ALL Children to interact, play, learn, experience the feeling of belonging and develop in accordance with their potentials and difficulties; thereby obtaining good quality of life within their respective environments.

What are the 3 most important roles of a special education teacher? ›

Special education teachers typically do the following: Assess students' skills and determine their educational needs. Adapt general lessons to meet students' needs. Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student.

What are the roles of special education teachers in inclusive classrooms? ›

The inclusion teacher focus is on scaffolding activities and differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students, not just the special education students. Provide direct support to students in a classroom by delivering instruction and ensuring learning through a variety of co-teaching models and strategies.

What is the most appropriate role for the special education teacher in an inclusion setting? ›

Special education and general education teachers often work together to develop a curriculum and create a positive student culture. In an inclusive classroom, special education teachers have the essential role of ensuring that students with disabilities or special needs receive a quality education.

How can teachers accommodate students with disabilities? ›

Assisting Students with Disabilities
  • Include a Disability Statement on Your Syllabus. ...
  • Follow the Instructions on the Accommodation Determination Letter. ...
  • Meet with the Student in Private. ...
  • Protect Student's Privacy. ...
  • Provide a Safe and Fair Learning Environment. ...
  • Use Student Disability Services as a Resource.

How can teachers accommodate students with learning disabilities? ›

Accommodating a students with a learning disability
  • Assist in identifying potential tutors and/or note-takers.
  • Allow students to audio-record lectures.
  • Allow for extensions on assignments and essays.
  • Allow for preferential seating, either to facilitate better listening or to allow for proximity to an electrical outlet.

What is the best way to teach special education students? ›

6 Strategies for Teaching Special Education Classes
  1. Form small groups. ...
  2. Create classroom centers. ...
  3. Blend 'the Basics' with more specialized instruction. ...
  4. Rotate lessons. ...
  5. Try thematic instruction. ...
  6. Provide different levels of books and materials.
Dec 9, 2020

Which is the best method to teach students with special needs? ›

Thematic linking: Here, a single theme is tied into multiple subject areas, so that they are no longer regarded as discrete subjects. This method of teaching is very effective in special education classrooms.

What are the 5 components of inclusive education? ›

Successful inclusive education happens primarily through accepting, understanding, and attending to student differences and diversity, which can include physical, cognitive, academic, social, and emotional.

What are examples of inclusion in special education? ›

Examples of inclusion in the classroom is providing access to the same routines and curriculum, encouraging participation of all students in activities done inside and outside the classroom, and holding all students up to the highest of standards regardless of a disability.

How can schools create inclusive education for students with disabilities? ›

Students with disabilities should receive reasonable accommodations within the classroom. Schools should address the academic, social, and life skills needs of each student. If needed, alternative learning methods should be used, such as braille instruction or alternative communication devices.

What should the teacher do teaching in special education? ›

The job of a special education teacher includes assisting general education teachers in identifying and assessing children who may have disabilities or special needs. They then adjust lessons to fit the needs of each individual child as part of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs).

What are the four goals of the special education teachers? ›

The Four Goals of Early Childhood Special Education
  • Intellectual Development. Cognitive or intellectual development is one of the biggest goals of early childhood special education. ...
  • Physical Development. ...
  • Emotional Development. ...
  • Social Development.

How do special education teachers feel about inclusion? ›

Teachers with special education training held more positive views about inclusion than regular education teachers (d = 0.41). Training and interventions related to improved cognitive appraisal (d = 0.63), emotional appraisal (d = 0.63), and self-efficacy toward inclusive practices (d = 0.93).

What is the educators role in teaching children with special needs? ›

Special education teachers work directly with students. They also provide professional advice, support and mentoring to classroom teachers and other school support staff on: setting goals for students based on areas of strength and difficulty. catering for a range of learning needs in classrooms.

What is the most important thing for me to learn in special education and inclusive education? ›

The key to inclusive special education programs is understanding and accepting students for who they are. This means not just helping them overcome their weaknesses but assisting them in finding and developing their talents too.

What are the three most important challenges facing special education today? ›

Here are three challenges special education classes present and the ways skilled professionals cope with them.
  • Managing Disruptive Behaviors. ...
  • Differentiating Instruction. ...
  • Collaborating With Parents.
Feb 15, 2021

What are the strategies for inclusive education? ›

Provide a safe space (physically and emotionally)
  • Provide a sensitive environment.
  • Provide encouragement and guide learning.
  • Provide a quiet area.
  • Express positive regard and support.
  • Facilitate student voice, autonomy and independence.
  • Set clear classroom expectations.

What are the 7 key principles of inclusion? ›

What are the 7 Pillars of Inclusion?
  • ACCESS. Access explores the importance of a welcoming environment and the habits that create it. ...
  • ATTITUDE. Attitude looks at how willing people are to embrace inclusion and diversity and to take meaningful action. ...
  • CHOICE. ...
  • POLICY. ...
Oct 5, 2018

What does an inclusive classroom look like? ›

An inclusive classroom climate refers to an environment where all students feel supported intellectually and academically, and are extended a sense of belonging in the classroom regardless of identity, learning preferences, or education.

What are the four key principles of inclusive education? ›

Integrate the Four Key Principles of Inclusive Education in All Programs. The following guiding principles—equity, safety, leadership and empowerment and do no harm—should be reflected in all efforts to address disability inclusive education, much like they are for integrating gender into education programming.

What are the four 4 key elements of inclusion? ›

But what are the essential elements of inclusion? This paper explores essential core elements that allow inclusion to flourish. Based on an extensive time in the field as part of a year-long doctoral research project, these elements are: relationships; shared experiences; advocacy, and a sense of identity.

How do you promote inclusion in children with disabilities? ›

Co-lead life skills peer groups (e.g., cooking groups, grooming groups, daily chore groups, community outings). Facilitate social programs that support social skill and self-esteem development for at-risk students to engage with all peers in a natural play environment.

What is the teachers role in inclusion of children with special needs? ›

Education of children with SEN (Special Education Needs) should be the responsibility of every teacher. As teaching in inclusive setup is a tedious job, teachers should be provided with extra time, training, resources, and support from colleagues, school authorities, parents and community.

What can teachers do to promote inclusion? ›

  • Make it Personal. Provide opportunities for students to share their own experiences and perspectives. ...
  • Include Various Perspectives. Provide a variety of perspectives on the topics you teach. ...
  • Know Your Students. Get to know your students. ...
  • Respect Diverse People. ...
  • Respect Diverse Talents.

What is an example of inclusion in special education? ›

Examples of inclusion in the classroom is providing access to the same routines and curriculum, encouraging participation of all students in activities done inside and outside the classroom, and holding all students up to the highest of standards regardless of a disability.

What are the examples of inclusive education? ›

An inclusive classrooms features students of all learning styles and ability levels. For example, an inclusive classroom could have a mix of gifted students, auditory learners, visual learners and students with disabilities such as ADHD, students who are in wheelchairs, and students with executive functioning issues.


1. Meaningful Inclusion in Early Childhood
2. Reimagining Disability & Inclusive Education | Jan Wilson | TEDxUniversityofTulsa
(TEDx Talks)
3. Small Group Rotations with Moderate/Severe Special Education Students
4. Inclusion and Education: #AllmeansALL​
5. The truth about special education | Suzanne Carrington | TEDxYouth@GrahamSt
(TEDx Talks)
6. What is inclusive education?
(Inclusive Education Planning)


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