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Considerations When Planning Literacy Instruction for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

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Students with intellectual disabilities can obtain higher levels of reading achievement. However, deficits in working memory can make learning early reading skills more difficult. These students should receive:

10 Research Based Tips

Plan

Keep big-picture goals in mind as you plan.

Goal

Ensure you have a clear picture of the student’s current skills and set meaningful, measurable goals.

Instruction

Use an evidence-based core reading program and align supplemental materials to this program as needed.

Intensity

Provide intervention with sufficient intensity to accomplish goals.

Professional Development

Seek out professional development opportunities to deepen understanding of the complex process of learning to read.

Language

Remember that language abilities are the underlying foundation for reading skills.

Scaffolding

Support working memory with images, objects, letters, and words.

Target

Target specific parts of a scope-and-sequence to focus instruction.

Data

Use data to guide instruction and adaptations.

Partner

Partner with service providers and family members to assist in adding more practice of learned skills.

Suggested Citation

National Center on Improving Literacy (2022). Considerations When Planning Literacy Instruction for Students with Intellectual Disabilities. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Special Education Programs, National Center on Improving Literacy. Retrieved from http://improvingliteracy.org.

References

Lemons, C. J., Allor, J. H., Al Otaiba, S., & LeJeune, L. M. (2016). 10 Research-Based Tips for Enhancing Literacy Instruction for Students With Intellectual Disability. TEACHING Exceptional Children, 49(1), 18–30. https://doi.org/10.1177/0040059916662202