TIP of the WEEK: STRATEGIES FOR THE CLASSROOM
Many students diagnosed with PWS have some cognitive and behavioral difficulties in school. All students have different learning styles, rates, strengths, and areas of need. Some classroom strategies that Latham educators frequently use have proven to be very effective. Parents may want to consider these ideas when developing an Individualized Education Plan:
- Classroom environment: food secure environment; seating to reduce distractions; minimize visual and auditory distractions; provide a quiet space to work without distractions, as needed; provide space for movement or sensory breaks; make sure the environment is tidy and well- organized; provide a visual schedule of the day.
- Curriculum: Modified to meet the student’s individual working ability; tailor lessons to meet each student’s optimal learning style; have stories available in a variety of formats (print, on tape/cd, large print); integrate teaching organizational skills into lessons, for example: color code student work for each subject with a different color marker and provide file folders of those colors for students to file their work into; teach problem solving skills; pair functional academic learning with real-life community experiences to help boost students’ independence.
- Sensory Tools: Sensory Integration theory teaches that the ability of the vestibular system to modulate sensory input has a powerful impact on the development of functional skills. Once students’ sensory-motor preferences and sensory hypersensitivities are determined, teachers can incorporate tools and activities into the class that will help each student remain at a “just right” feeling of arousal. Sensorimotor integration can decrease habitual, repetitive behaviors.
The specific techniques used will depend on the desired outcome. A child who presents as tired or fatigued for much of the day may benefit from arousal techniques such as sour spray, therabands for hands and feet, and yellow or orange light products. For a child with tactile difficulties the use of vibration throughout the day may help him or her accept being touched or being in close proximity to others with greater ease.
Lesson Presentation: Use visual references to help students understand lesson information; Provide extra time for processing information; check in regularly with students to ensure they understand the lesson; provide cues and prompts and close adult assistance to help students remain focused and on-task.
Pam Nolan, M.Ed.