Inclusive Education for Special Needs Students | Resilient Educator (2023)

Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources

By The Editorial Team

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Inclusive education involves teaching all students in the same age-appropriate general education classroom at their local school, regardless of the challenges they face. The philosophy of inclusive education promotes the idea that students with disabilities are just as competent as students without disabilities. Successful inclusive education for students with disabilities involves accepting their differences, ensuring they feel supported and encouraging them to participate fully in the classroom.

Take a look at the benefits of inclusive education and what strategies teachers can use to ensure classrooms are welcoming and accessible to all students.

Benefits of inclusive classrooms

Students with or without disabilities benefit from inclusive education in a variety of ways. For instance, teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms can lead to:

  • Greater academic gains in literacy, math, and social studies
  • Better communication and social skills
  • Fewer absences
  • Less disruptive behavior
  • More motivation to work and learn

Research shows that students without special needs also benefit from learning alongside those with special needs, developing both their cognitive and social abilities. This is generally because inclusive classrooms can enable new learning opportunities to emerge. Serving as a peer coach, for instance, can enable students without special needs to improve their own academic performance by helping others learn.

Classroom teachers can start by providing instruction using learning modalities that cater to a diverse range of learners, which should end up benefiting all students in a general classroom.

Creating an inclusive classroom for students with disabilities

When developing inclusive classrooms for students with disabilities, it’s crucial to review the individual education plan (IEP) of each student before incorporating new methods. The type of disability that a student has can determine what strategies work best.

Learning disabilities

Students with learning disabilities succeed academically when given specific remedial instructions. This could involve breaking down an assignment into smaller steps, using diagrams or pictures to emphasize directions and modeling instructions to help students visualize what they need to do.

Scaffolding practices can also make a difference. Start with an explicit instruction to help students acquire a new skill before easing them into the next learning segment. Asking students about their processes and encouraging them to monitor their own progress can help them better grasp what they’re learning.

Down syndrome

Full-inclusion special education for students with Down syndrome should involve a multisensory-based program. Multisensory instruction engages more than one sense at a time, such as pairing visuals with auditory instructions or demonstrations of how to complete a task.

Breaking instructions into smaller steps and repeating small chunks of information can make it easier for students to retain what they’re reading or viewing. Because students with Down syndrome learn at a slower pace than their peers, allowing adequate response time ensures they have a chance to apply what they’ve learned on their own.


Students with autism may have sensory processing difficulties and need quieter classrooms, dimmer lights, and minimal smells toparticipate fully. Creating designated learning areas can provide students with a distraction-free zone to focus on their work. Using visuals to establish classroom boundaries or explain activities can better communicate expectations and help students become more independent.

Health impairments

Health impairments can be due to a variety of conditions, such as arthritis, epilepsy, ADHD, and seizure disorder. Each condition comes with unique impairments and modifying the classroom with technology can make it easier for students to learn and communicate. Providing assignments electronically or audio-recording lessons helps students access materials on their own if they find it difficult to focus. Peer coaches can also provide guidance during hands-on activities for students with physical limitations.

Emotional disturbances

Students who suffer from Emotional and Behavioral Disorders (EBDs) may find it difficult to practice impulse control or interact with other students. Providing clear classroom guidelines and implementing a reward system that recognizes positive behavior can influence students to engage with their peers and do well in their lessons.

EBD students may also struggle to focus for long periods. Providing mini-breaks or extra time to finish assignments throughout the school day gives students a chance to burn off excess energy or catch up with the rest of the class.

Orthopedic impairments

Classroom accessibility is one of the major challenges students with orthopedic impairments face. If the student is in a wheelchair, they may require special tables or seats to participate comfortably. Writing aids, such as pencil grips or special paper, can benefit students with upper limb disabilities. Teachers may also need to modify lesson plans and class activities for accessibility. For instance, assigning a peer mentor or special tasks the student can accomplish on their own while still being part of the group can help them feel included.

Hearing impairments

Students with a hearing impairment may require assistive devices, such as an induction loop or a transmitter with a clip-on microphone worn by the teacher, to succeed in the classroom. Written materials and captioned videos can make it easier for students to understand instructions.

Assigning students with hearing loss a seat in the front row ensures they have a clear view of the whiteboard, projector, or instructor, especially if they lip-read. Teachers can take an extra step by facing the class instead of the board when lecturing and allowing students to record lectures to better access information.

Visual impairments

Inclusive activities for visually-impaired students require verbal instruction for them to participate fully. Alternative options may need to be offered if the activities are off-campus. Supplying course materials electronically can also help students adapt information to a more suitable format, such as audio.

Because students with visual impairments may take longer to read or complete assignments, making a weekly or monthly schedule can help them plan accordingly and get a head start if they wish. Providing audio-recorded comments on tasks instead of written comments can make feedback and instruction more accessible.

Multiple disabilities

Students can have multiple physical or mental disabilities that make the classroom environment more difficult to navigate. Rather than rigidly sticking to a singular program for all students to follow, provide students with disabilities an individualized schedule with alternative assignments or tasks that align with their needs.Ensuring there are minimal distractions in the classroom and that class materials are available in multiple formats can help students stay focused and get the information they need. Having a separate, quieter room available for exams or other solo tasks can help students successfully complete their work in a distraction-free zone.


Inclusive classrooms offer a plethora of advantages for students with disabilities, as well as those without. By introducing certain teaching strategies and adapting the instruction to guarantee access, students can have an improved educational experience. For instance, individualized timetables for a range of impairments and providing course material electronically for those with visual impairments can help generate a learning atmosphere that caters to everyone’s needs. All in all, inclusive classrooms can help cultivate a feeling of fellowship and acceptance, allowing for a more fulfilling learning experience.

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What is an inclusion special education teacher? ›

An Inclusion Specialist is a certified teacher who specializes in students who have developmental or physical disabilities but who are familiar with procedures and techniques to assist a child within the classroom.

How to teach special needs students in an inclusive classroom? ›

Making Classrooms Inclusive for Special Needs
  1. Review Individual Education Plans. ...
  2. Create a Safe Space. ...
  3. Consider How Students Interact With Their Environment. ...
  4. Differentiate Instruction. ...
  5. Rely on Your Fellow Teachers.

What is inclusive teaching for students with disabilities? ›

Pearson says that inclusive education means that students with and without disabilities learn alongside one another, in the same classroom setting, with lessons that are accessible for all.

How can teachers best plan for and teach students with significant cognitive disabilities in inclusive classrooms? ›

Teaching Strategies for Inclusive Classrooms
  • Adapting the curriculum to better serve all students.
  • Creating a sense of community in the classroom by involving all students in each task.
  • Determining and understanding the needs of students with disabilities.

What do I need to be an inclusion teacher? ›

If you teach in public school, you need to be certified by your state and pass any exams specific to your subject matter, and you need special education training. Experience working with diverse students is a plus, as well as empathy and strong interpersonal skills.

What are the 3 most important roles of a special education teacher? ›

Special education teachers typically do the following: Assess students' skills and determine their educational needs. Adapt general lessons to meet students' needs. Develop Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for each student.

What is an example of inclusive teaching? ›

An inclusive classrooms features students of all learning styles and ability levels. For example, an inclusive classroom could have a mix of gifted students, auditory learners, visual learners and students with disabilities such as ADHD, students who are in wheelchairs, and students with executive functioning issues.

What is the role of special education teachers in promoting an inclusive classroom? ›

Special education teachers serve as advocates for students with disabilities and special needs. This includes ensuring that all school officials and employees understand the importance of inclusion and how to best implement inclusion in all campus activities.

What is an example of inclusion in special education? ›

Examples of inclusion in the classroom is providing access to the same routines and curriculum, encouraging participation of all students in activities done inside and outside the classroom, and holding all students up to the highest of standards regardless of a disability.

What are the strategies for inclusive education? ›

Provide a safe space (physically and emotionally)
  • Provide a sensitive environment.
  • Provide encouragement and guide learning.
  • Provide a quiet area.
  • Express positive regard and support.
  • Facilitate student voice, autonomy and independence.
  • Set clear classroom expectations.

Why is inclusion important for special education students? ›

Some of the benefits of inclusion for children with (or without) disabilities are friendship skills, peer models, problem solving skills, positive self-image, and respect for others. This can trickle down to their families as well, teaching parents and families to be more accepting of differences.

How do you handle an inclusive classroom? ›

How to Create an Inclusive Classroom: 5 Strategies & Examples
  1. Create a safe learning environment.
  2. Diversify learning material.
  3. Taking into account students' needs.
  4. Make it easy for all students to participate.
  5. Develop a rapport with each student.
Dec 19, 2022

What should the teacher do to help create an inclusive learning environment? ›

To create an inclusive classroom for your students, try integrating these strategies.
  1. Elevate Your Curriculum. ...
  2. Use Inclusive Language. ...
  3. Create and Enforce Class Values and Behavior Standards. ...
  4. Create Space for Students to Practice Empathy. ...
  5. Focus on Global Competence. ...
  6. Avoid Making Assumptions Based on Stereotypes.

How can teachers make a classroom more inclusive? ›

Tips for Making Classrooms More Inclusive as Students Head Back To School
  1. Use inclusive language on all forms. ...
  2. Stock your library shelves with diverse books. ...
  3. Create a welcoming bulletin board. ...
  4. Develop clear classroom and/or school agreements. ...
  5. Prepare for teachable moments. ...
  6. Model inclusive language.
Aug 24, 2018

What is the best approach for teaching students with disabilities? ›

Peer mentoring is a wonderful resource for teaching social skills, problem solving, and independence,” encourages Rocheleau. “It allows both students with disabilities and those without to appreciate each other for their strengths and to learn from each others' experiences.”

What do inclusive teachers do? ›

What do inclusive instructors do? They take responsibility for making their teaching and their curriculum inclusive. They continue to learn about both their students and teaching. They care about and for each and every student they teach.

Who teaches in an inclusion classroom? ›

In an inclusive classroom, general education teachers and special education teachers work together to meet the needs of students. This gives special education students the support they need while they stay in a general education classroom. All students can benefit from inclusive classrooms.

What skills do you need to be an inclusion assistant? ›

Time management and organisation skills. Possess superior interpersonal skills that reflect enthusiasm, patience, tolerance, sensitivity, empathy and enthusiasm for working with students, parents and school staff.

What makes a good special education teacher? ›

A good special education teacher needs to be patient and understand her students better to help them learn. Acceptance : Special education teachers work with disabled students with various problems. Irrespective of the issues, these professionals must accept all the children and interact with love and respect.

What are the three types of special education interventions? ›

What Is Intervention in Education?
  • Proactive: Deals with areas of need before they become a larger obstacle to education.
  • Intentional: Specifically addresses an observed weakness.
  • Formal: Uses targeted methods for addressing specific needs and tracks progress.
Oct 15, 2019

What are three of the most critical characteristics of a special educator? ›

The Qualities of a Special Ed Teacher – What it Takes to be Great
  • Adaptability. Classrooms can be unpredictable. ...
  • Collaboration. ...
  • Communication skills. ...
  • Compassion. ...
  • Devotion to improvement. ...
  • Assessment skills. ...
  • Knowledge of theory and practice. ...
  • Listening skills.
Aug 17, 2018

What is inclusion in a classroom? ›

An inclusive classroom climate refers to an environment where all students feel supported intellectually and academically, and are extended a sense of belonging in the classroom regardless of identity, learning preferences, or education.

What is push in special education? ›

Push-in intervention involves supporting a student who is struggling inside the classroom. All of the additional support and differentiated instruction happens in the classroom instead of somewhere else.

What is a good example of inclusion? ›

Examples of inclusive behaviors in the workplace
  • Respect and appreciate all team member's backgrounds and cultural values. ...
  • Organize team building activities. ...
  • Prioritize the participation of all workers in company-wide celebrations. ...
  • Foster a culture with authentic greetings. ...
  • Equal access to resources.
Oct 13, 2022

What are simple examples of inclusion? ›

Everyday Acts of Inclusion
  • Actively and Genuinely Listen. ...
  • Acknowledge Individual Work Contributions. ...
  • Seek out People's Expertise and Opinions. ...
  • Welcome New Employees. ...
  • Pay Attention and Extend an Invitation.

What is inclusion examples? ›

Inclusion is defined as the state of being included or being made a part of something. When multiple people are all invited to be part of a group, this is an example of inclusion.

What are inclusive strategies for people with disabilities? ›

Communicating With and About People with Disabilities
TipsDo not use
Do not use offensive languageCrippled, lame, deformed, invalid, spastic
Slow, simple, moronic, defective, afflicted, special person
Insane, crazy, psycho, maniac, nuts
Avoid language that implies negative stereotypesNormal person, healthy person
9 more rows

How can you promote diversity and inclusion in the classroom? ›

How can you Promote Diversity and Multiculturalism in the Classroom?
  1. Get to Know Your Students. ...
  2. Maintain Consistent Communication. ...
  3. Acknowledge and Respect Every Student. ...
  4. Practice Cultural Sensitivity. ...
  5. Incorporate Diversity in the Lesson Plan. ...
  6. Give Students Freedom and Flexibility.

How does inclusion benefit teachers? ›

Inclusion is also advantageous to teachers because it allows them to strengthen their collaboration skills as they work together with other teachers, specialists, and parents to figure out the best education plan for their students with special needs.

What are the barriers to inclusion? ›

When you knock them down, your whole organization will be better for it.
  • Selective Mentoring. Unconsciously, people are more likely to be invested in someone else's career development when they can see themselves in the colleague. ...
  • Inconsistent Response to Mistakes. ...
  • Bullying. ...
  • Insensitivity. ...
  • Perceived Underperformance.
Jan 30, 2017

What are the benefits of inclusion for autistic students? ›

For those with ASD, proposed benefits often center on improved social acceptance and improved social communication, and peers play a critical role in these outcomes. For example, inclusion may reduce stigma, allow for social learning, increase social acceptance, and improve the social standing of students with ASD.

How do you create an inclusive environment? ›

9 Ways to Create an Inclusive Environment

How can educators create a culturally inclusive environment? ›

To create culturally inclusive classroom communities, both teachers and students build relationships with each other. Students are motivated by teachers they respect. Teachers show genuine care and concern for students by holding them accountable and by acknowledging their good work.

How can teachers create a culturally inclusive classroom environment? ›

Treat diversity positively

Don't expect any individual student to speak as a representative of his / her culture. Utilise diverse experiences and perspectives as a resource. Plan opportunities for all students to contribute input related to their own culture (but avoid making any student a cultural representative).

What does inclusion mean to you as a teacher? ›

Inclusion means teaching all children together, regardless of ability level. Inclusive programs celebrate children's similarities as well as their different abilities and cultures. In inclusive classrooms, children with special needs take part in the general education curriculum based on their ages and grades.


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