The Exceptional Child
Sensory, Physical, and Health
Impairments and Strategies
By the end of this lesson, students should be able to:
Recognize key criteria and characteristics of sensory, physical and health impairments. Describe ways to introduce awareness of special needs with non-disabled classmates. Identify classroom and instructional accommodations for sensory impairments.
Identify classroom and instructional accommodations for physical and health impairments. Adapt lesson plans for sensory and physical differences.
Vocabulary screening visual impairment blind; legally blind low vision acuity central and peripheral vision functional vision low vision aids and devices
orientation and mobility hearing impairment deaf; hard of hearing
Deaf culture audiogram decibels (dB) hertz (Hz) prelingual v. postlingual hearing loss American Sign Language (ASL)
Signed Exact English total communication cochlear implant assistive technology (AT) deaf-blindness orthopedic impairments cerebral palsy positioning adaptive switches physical therapy occupational therapy other health impairments seizure disorder (epilepsy) multiple disabilities health protocols
“low impact” instructional modifications learned helplessness
The Exceptional Child
In Lesson 3, we are beginning to look at specific disabilities, starting with some that may be most familiar to you – hearing, vision, physical and health impairments. Historically, these disabilities have received much attention, discussed in Lesson 1. However, they are generally very low incidence (not very prevalent), meaning that they are rare and make up a small part of the disabilities that you will see in your classroom. You may never have a blind or deaf child in your classroom, or one who is physically limited to a wheelchair or needs a communication board to “speak”.
Identifying Students with Sensory and Physical Disabilities
As noted in Lesson 2, students with sensory, physical or health problems have often been identified by parents and professionals during early childhood years before entering school. Consequently, these students often come to your class with an IEP and with support from a range of specialists: teachers of the visually impaired or hearing impaired; physical and occupational therapists; assistive technology and augmentative communication specialists; medical personnel. Sometimes, the disability only requires accommodations in the regular classroom, not specially designed instruction, so the students might come with a 504 Accommodation Plan, not an IEP. Rather than initiating a referral for these students, your role on the ARC or 504 team is to help determine appropriate accommodations within your own room and instructional program, as well as to implement these strategies in the classroom.
To make sure that sensory, physical and health problems are picked up early, screening is part of Head Start and the Kentucky preschool program. Kentucky schools are also required to screen children regularly upon school entry (kindergarten) as well as at regular intervals for vision, hearing, speech and physical/health conditions. However, where a disability is mild, you may be the first one noticing that the child is struggling.
Consequently, you play a key role in spotting mild and fluctuating hearing losses, vision problems and the possible need for glasses, as well as some fine motor coordination problems and mild seizures. In this case, you could be the person initiating a referral for the ARC to consider.
There is a link in the Internet Links section to the Kentucky Department of Education eligibility determination forms, with the state criteria. Look specifically at the eligibility forms for Hearing Impaired (HI) , Visual Impairment (VI) , Deaf-Blind, Orthopedic
Impairment (OI) , and Other Health Impairment (OHI).
hearing impaired (HI)
Based on the criteria on the HI determination form, what would a child with a