About thinking/cognition skills
Cognition is another word for thinking or understanding. It includes skills like how fast someone thinks, and their attention, reasoning, and problem solving. Teenagers with disabilities or developmental challenges may face challenges with some types of cognitive skills. These will vary depending on the teen. They may experience some challenges with how quickly they can think and their ability to understand. They might need information kept short and simple, and they may take longer to understand, think and respond. They may become tired quickly. New tasks can be harder for them to learn and so they might become frustrated. They may engage in challenging or disruptive behavior when feeling frustrated.
Students with developmental disabilities often have a unique profile of strengths and challenges in different areas of their thinking skills. They may show a great understanding of visual information, but need extra time to process information or have trouble concentrating for a long time. Each teenager is unique and will need a tailored approach to their learning.
Some areas where a tailored approach may be helpful include attention, learning and memory, processing speed and planning and organisation. More general strategies for supporting a student who has challenges with their thinking are discussed below.
Consider adjustments to communication style
Consider adjustments to activities and rules
Provide lots of opportunities to practise
Make each session as structured as possible
Best practice tips
Visit our resources page for a range of resources that can help to create inclusive education environments for students with disabilities and developmental challenges. Some particularly relevant resources for suppporting students with cognition/thinking issues include: