Did you know?
The famous physicist Stephen Hawking has a diagnosis of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). This disease is a motor neuron disorder that progressively wastes muscles. It has left his limbs almost completely useless over time to the point that he is completely dependent on others for everything. He learned of his disease as a young man in college and was discouraged by the thought of going on at all. With encouragement from others, however, he continued to pursue his goals, putting the foreboding future to the back of his mind, not knowing if he could complete a Ph.D. or whether he would even live more than a few more years. Presently, because he is no longer able to speak, he uses a small computer attached to his wheel chair to artificially speak for him. With the use of this computer he is able to pick out the phrases and words that he wants to say, and the voice synthesizer then reads it back. In this manner, he is able to complete 15 words a minute. What is truly amazing is that he has written two books and dozens of scientific papers using this voice synthesizer! To date he has received 12 honorary degrees and is the recipient of awards, medals, and international recognition.
A wide range of conditions may limit mobility such as, partial or total paralysis due to various causes, ALS, muscular dystrophy, arthritis, amputation or severe injury (paraplegia or quadraplegia); or CNS disorders such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Other disorders may affect energy and / or cognitive and emotional functioning such as respiratory and cardiac diseases, AIDS, asthma, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, Epstein Barr, lupus, and fibromyalgia. Some of the symptoms of various conditions may overlap the disability categories causing low energy, mobility issues and cognitive dysfunction such as fibromyalgia, arthritis, and injuries causing chronic pain. Fatigue and reduced ability to concentrate and think are also caused by medications required for these kinds of disorders.
Teaching students with mobility issues
- Wheelchairs are difficult to maneuver in the winter and even during warmer seasons, so students may become tired from wheeling themselves all over campus. Allow some flexibility in getting to class on time consistently. (Accommodations will vary depending on disability.)
- Most students who use wheel chairs will ask for assistance when they need it. Wait until they ask.
- If talking with a student in a wheelchair for more than a few minutes, sit down or kneel, if convenient.
- It is most appropriate to use the term “wheelchair user” or “individual who uses a wheelchair” when referring to a mobility impaired individual. It is not appropriate to use the term "wheelchair bound" or "handicapped" which has been interpretered as meaning"cap in hand".. or "begging"
Accommodations for physical, medical, and mobility diabilities include providing …
- An accessible location for the classroom and an accessible place for faculty to meet with the student.
- Accessible parking in close proximity to the building.
- Adjustable tables for all classes including classes taught in lab settings.
- Advance planning for field trips to ensure accessibility (the CEA can assist).
- Appropriate placement in the classroom. Avoid putting the student off to the side or in the back of the room, integrate them as much as possible.
- Customized PE class activities that allow the student to participate within their capabilities or P.E. waiver.
- Extra time for tests to accommodate slow writing.
- Allow students to stand or walk the halls to relieve chronic pain.
- Standing and walking breaks during testing.
- Flexibility in attendance requirements in case of unavoidable health-related absences.
- Lab assistance (partner assigned as Lab Hands that is not a classmate (the CEA can assist).
- Note takers, the use of tape recorders, the use of laptop computers in class.
- A separate location for test taking, scribes, access to assistive technology (the CEA can assist).
For some extraordinary individuals, such as Michael Jordan, or Babe Ruth, strength in bodily-kinesthetic intelligence appeared even before they began formal training. However, in cases of apraxia or other conditions, some people lack the ability to voluntarily control muscles, though they continue to move involuntarily.
Classroom: Role-playing, simulations, or kinesthetic approaches to learning could be used to introduce or reinforce concepts.
Traumatic Brain Injury
Students having had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) may also have a variety of Cognitive Disabilities. In addition, they will usually present with Attention Deficit Disorder immediately following the injury, but those symptoms may fade or completely stop after a period of time. ADD however, can develop permanently as a result of a head injury. Students may have difficulties with memory, vision, hearing, speaking, writing, cognitive processing, and any number of physical disabilities. Each of these issues is addressed under their respective category of disability.