Supportive Classroom Environments for Students with Communication Disorders

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  • 0:04 Challenges With Communication
  • 0:51 Communication Disorders
  • 1:45 Classroom Strategies
  • 3:56 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Abigail Cook
Students with communication disorders may be at a significant disadvantage in a regular classroom environment because of the specific challenges they face. Teachers can set their students up for success by adapting the classroom environment.

Challenges With Communication

Ruby is a fourth grade student who has been diagnosed with a communication disorder. She specifically struggles with reading, writing, and understanding spoken language. She receives speech and languages services from a speech therapist at school, but she spends most of her day in the regular classroom with her peers. Ruby has the same potential for learning as any other fourth grader, but her challenges with communication make it more difficult for her to keep up with the class. She turns in incomplete assignments, projects, and tests. She does not get started on a task with the rest of the group. She seems to forget what she's supposed to be doing in the middle of a task. She stops listening to the teacher in a noisy environment. Ruby's situation is similar to that of other students with communication disorders.

Communication Disorders

A child's ability to communicate with teachers and peers is critical for their educational success. Communication skills include speaking, writing, reading, listening, and gesturing. Students with communication disorders have a difficult time acquiring these skills and applying them in classroom settings. Let's look at some of the specific ways students with communication disorders might struggle in a classroom.

  • Difficulty hearing and following teacher instructions
  • Inability to solve problems
  • Trouble with reading and comprehension
  • Expressing thoughts through speaking or writing
  • Trouble understanding social cues

These challenges make it difficult for students to function in a quiet, controlled environment. Once the noise, chaos, and demands of a typical classroom come into play, these challenges can become major roadblocks to a student's educational success.

Classroom Strategies

Teachers have a significant impact on the environment in their classroom. The rules, procedures, and routines of a classroom can be altered to cater to students with diverse needs. As teachers take into account the challenges of their students with communication disorders, they can adapt their classrooms to set these students up for success. Let's explore some of the changes Ruby's teacher made to help her be more successful at school.

Ruby's teacher reduces unnecessary noise whenever possible. Ruby's teacher sets up a quiet sign as a reminder that certain activities are to be done silently.

Students with communication disorders may benefit from sitting near the teacher. When Ruby's teacher gives instructions, she's in close proximity to Ruby, who needs to hear the directions most clearly. Close proximity also makes it easy to repeat instructions or answer any questions Ruby may have.

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