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Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Question 1

In an effort to promote “access” to the general curriculum for students with SCD, describe the two standards-setting processes that must take place.

The two standards-setting processes that must take place in order for the students with significant cognitive disabilities (SCD) to gain full and equal access to the general curriculum are identification of the appropriate standards and definition of the outcomes of instruction(Agran, Mithaug, Martin & Wehmeyer, 2002). Identification of appropriate standards is important to the task of promoting access to general curriculum for students with SCD because it ensures that the relevant aspects of education are noted and focused upon. Rather than assuming all the standards of the general curriculum when dealing with students with SCD, it is important for the stakeholders to identify the exact factors that can be used to measure the achievements of the students equally for equal levels.

Defining the outcomes of instruction is equal to defining the parameters of assessment. This means that if the outcomes of instruction are defined universally for both the nondisabled students and those with SCD with respect to the general curriculum then there will be a definitive assessment system that will give the accurate and compatible results for both categories of students (Agran et el., 2002).

Question 2

School-wide Positive Behavior Supports (PBS) and Universal Design (UD) are two measures that support the inclusion of students with SCD in accessing the general curriculum.

         (a)  Define PBS and explain how it positively impacts behavior and learning for all students.

         (b)  Define UD and explain how it impacts greater access to the general curriculum for students with SCD.

  1. PBS is a system of behavioral support that works through prevention and intervention to ensure that the students are learning adequately and behaving appropriately. School Wide Positive Behavioral Support entails three tiers of action where teachers are prompted to focus on the overall school, some of the students and then a few students (Agran et el., 2002). The core aspects in this approach are prevention and intervention and thus there is a lot to be done. By focusing on the student body as a whole, this proactive approach allows the students to be educated on what is expected of them. In addition, the focus on specific students for intervention enables the students to reform and thus behave properly. PBS generally works with the academic support systems through mentorship, class management and positive reinforcement as well as high expectations. This is how this approach manages to improve behavior and learning in the school for all students.
  2. Universal Design for learning allows for the formulation of specific frameworks that allow for flexibility in the instruction models such that instructors are able to meet the needs of their students (Agran et el., 2002). The UD impacts the students’ access to the general curriculum by reducing the barriers and accommodating the special needs of the students with SCD. In addition, all this is accomplished without lowering the expectations of these students thus making their access to the general curriculum complete and fair.

Question 3

In terms of early literacy for students with SCD, name and describe two barriers at home and two barriers at school that most children in this category experience (total of 4).

With regards to early literacy for students with SCD, the two barriers at home are low expectations and lack of information while at school they include low expectations and improper assessment practices.

  • Parents often lack information on how to handle their children with SCD. In most instances, the parents develop very low expectations and seem to give up on the abilities of their child (Agran et el., 2002). They thus do not encourage them to learn as they would with a nondisabled child. The lack of encouragement equals a lack of motivation and thus the child is unlikely to gain interest in learning.
  • Given that they do not know what to do, these parents neglect the literacy of their children in the hope that once they are old enough to go to school they will be helped by the specialists.
  • At school, having low expectations implies that the students with SCD aren’t challenged enough to learn like their nondisabled counterparts. This limits their abilities in that they do not get enough motivation to work harder and learn more.
  • Inappropriate assessment prevents the teachers from knowing the needs of the students in terms of what they already know and how much more they need to learn. This impedes their literacy development from a tender age.

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Question 4

List and describe four ways that teachers can make literacy accessible and provide more opportunities for children with SCD.

The four ways through which teachers can make literacy accessible and provide more opportunities for children with SCD include having high expectations, incorporating conversational skills into the academic program, formulating relevant IEP and accurate assessment processes.

  • High expectations raise the bar and challenge the students to learn more. The teachers are also challenged to teach more and thus the effect is higher literacy levels and more learning opportunities for the students (Agran et el., 2002).
  • Incorporating a functional skill into the general academic learning will ensure that the students learn how to listen and speak properly within a familiar classroom environment.
  • IEP ensures that the student is taught what they need to learn at the time. This means that if it is relevant, the student is likely to learn more.
  • Assessment is crucial in knowing how effective the teaching strategies have been and how much more needs to be done. By assessing the student through the right parameters, the teacher is more likely to understand what they must do to improve the child’s opportunities to learn.

Question 5

Check out the website on writing with symbols @ and describe three aspects of this feature that may assist children with SCD in communication and early literacy.

Generally, being able to read is a basic skill that most people take for granted. The world is full of text in terms of warnings, instructions an even information. This leaves out the people who have a difficulty with reading and recognizing text such that they can only be communicated to through symbols (Agran et el., 2002). The symbols used are often colorful such that the students with SCD can easily find them interesting. This aspect helps in attracting their attention to the message being conveyed in the symbols. They are also often clear, such that the message isn’t confusing. When these symbols are used together with their corresponding texts, they help the student to associate the text with its meaning as shown in the symbol. This means that other than being an alternative to texts, these symbols help in understanding the texts for better literacy among students with SCD.

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Question 6

The appropriate ‘wait-time’ is vital in gendering a response from a child with SCD.  Often times the student may know the answer, but takes a bit longer to comprehend the question, and additional time to communicate a response.  Review the research on ‘time-delay procedures’ from Collins & Griffen (1996).

         (a)  Give an overall description and results of the study by Collins & Griffen. 

         (b)  Define zero-delay variation in the systematic prompting system.


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  1. The study by Collins and Griffen (1996) was aimed at investigating the effectiveness of time delay in teaching instructions for product warning labels and the generalized responses from the students. In the study, the participants were four elementary school students with moderate mental retardation. They were given individualized instructions using the constant time delay procedure and multiple exemplars and the results showed mastery after 8 to 16 sessions. In addition, the students had moderate to high results in their maintenance and generalization in the post intervention phase of the study thus implying that constant time delay is beneficial to the teaching of students with SCD (Collins & Griffen, 1996). Students may be unable to respond immediately even when they recognize the stimulus but prompting them after a short time period is beneficial as it improves their ability to respond. When the prompting is eventually stopped, they are still able to recognize the words thus maintenance and generalization are also achieved.
  2. A zero second delay variation implies not waiting at all before prompting the student. This means that the instructor responds immediately after asking the student the question. This method is often used in simultaneous prompting as it provides for probe sessions prior to the instructional sessions where the student is asked the same question and not given a prompt to ascertain whether they can respond correctly or incorrectly (Collins & Griffen, 1996). A zero second delay ensures that the child isn’t given the opportunity to give a wrong response, and thus they eventually learn the correct response.
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