Intellectual disability

Example of practice

Aisha is in Term 2 in Grade 1 at her local primary school. Aisha has an intellectual disability and has access to learning support within the classroom and to an occupational therapist and a speech pathologist outside of school. She enjoys spending time with her classroom teacher and her allied health specialist team. Aisha is keen to learn and loves dinosaurs and animals. She shows some interest in letters and is beginning to recognise a few high frequency words (such as ‘in’, ‘said’, ‘have’).

1. What are Aisha's unique strengths and what has been helpful so far?

2. What is the goal and why is it important?

The goal:

  • The overall goals are for Aisha to remember the ten high frequency words she currently knows and learn twenty new ones by the end of Term 3

  • Learning high frequency words helps increase reading speed, reading accuracy, reading fluency and reading comprehension, all of which will support Aisha in other areas of her education, and in her future autonomy and independence
  • Personalised learning and support will ensure Aisha enjoys a rigorous and meaningful education

3. What evidence-based strategies can be used to reach the goal?

Aisha’s teacher used the primary school students with an intellectual disability guide to learn more about evidence-based strategies and resources. After using this resource, Aisha’s teacher has identified some strategies that can be trialed in her classroom to build on Aisha’s existing strengths and help her achieve the desired goal:

  • Aisha works well with visual supports, repetition, and a timer set to a maximum of 10 min for high-focus tasks
  • Aisha has a strong interest in dinosaurs and animals
  • Aisha has access to learning support within the classroom
  • Aisha works well one-to-one when learning challenging or new tasks
  • Aisha is motivated to learn

  • Visual instructions will include: a 10-minute timer will be set for daily reading and for writing tasks, and a visual schedule will show her what will happen before and after tasks
  • Short movement breaks and opportunities to play with the dinosaur Aisha brings from home will be offered after these tasks
  • Reading material featuring animals and dinosaurs will be selected where possible
  • Aisha’s teacher and the education support staff will get her attention through making eye contact, and using her name, gestures, and touch (for example; placing a hand on Aisha’s shoulder) before engaging in tasks
  • One-to-one explicit teaching of high frequency words will include the use of demonstration, most-to-least prompting, repetition, visual support (see above) and scaffolding
  • Hands-on and visual learning approaches (for example; trace the sentence, and use a coloured pencil for the target words) will be used

  • Aisha’s family members are supportive and very involved in providing support and instruction at home
  • Aisha receives ongoing therapy and support with an OT and a speech pathologist

  • Aisha’s teacher and the education support will work in partnership with her family and allied health to develop a consistent approach to reading and writing tasks between home, school and therapy
  • Gestures and visual supports provided by Aisha’s allied health specialist team will be incorporated in the classroom and in teaching tasks
  • Aisha’s teacher and the education support staff will use a weekly email to communicate with Aisha’s family and allied health specialist team to share and monitor progress