Current research demonstrates the potential for reading ability in all students, including those with intellectual disabilities (ID). Consequently, teachers of students with ID should provide instruction that is comprehensive, and not limited to sight word memorization (Allor, Mathes, Jones, Champlin, & Cheatham, 2010).
Much of the research on reading instruction for students with intellectual disabilities has focused on sight words (Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzill, & Algozzine, 2006). While this approach may have been effective for some students, reading involves much more than memorizing a few sight words. So, how do we provide quality literacy instruction for students with intellectual disabilities when the research indicates that only one in five students with intellectual disabilities achieves minimal literacy skills (Katims, 2001)?
It is not surprising that research findings indicate that the same methods that are effective for teaching struggling readers are also effective for students with intellectual disabilities. Students with low IQs have shown progress in early reading development when given extensive practice and high quality instruction (Browder, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Courtade, Gibbs, & Flowers, 2008). Current research demonstrates the potential for reading ability in all students, including those with intellectual disabilities (ID). Consequently, teachers of students with ID should provide instruction that is comprehensive, and not limited to sight word memorization (Allor, Mathes, Jones, Champlin, & Cheatham, 2010).
Consider the following suggestions for your reading instruction.
1) Have high expectations for all of your students. A teacher’s belief that his/her students can learn will translate to higher quality instruction and confident learners.
2) Provide systematic instruction in all components of reading. Check out this brief overview of the five components of reading. You may also want to review a more detailed article about the components.
3) Teach reading with fun and motivating activities that are short and fast-paced.
Children with Disabilities: Reading and Writing the Four-Blocks Way
*There are several copies of this book available for checkout from the T-TAC ODU Library.
Living with the ASOLs video series includes several videos based on literacy instruction.
Allor, J. H., Mathes, P. G., Jones, F. G., Champlin, T. M., & Cheatham, J. P. (2010). Individualized research-based reading instruction for students with disabilities: Success stories. Teaching Exceptional Children, 42, 6-12.
Browder, D. M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G., Gibbs, S. L., & Flowers, C. (2008). Evaluation of the effectiveness of an early literacy program for students with significant developmental disabilities using group randomized trial research. Exceptional Children, 75, 33-52.
Browder, D., Wakeman, S. Y., Spooner, F., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., & Algozzine, B. (2006). Research on reading instruction for individuals with significant cognitive disabilities. Exceptional Children, 72, 392-408.
Katims, D. S. (2001). Literacy assessment of students with mental retardation: An exploratory investigation.
Education and Training in Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, 36, 363-371.