How Better Classwork Improves Behavior of Special Needs Children

The right curriculum may prevent special needs youth from acting out

Teenage girl (16-17) sitting in classroom, looking away
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Inappropriate curriculum and instruction can lead to many types of problem behaviors in students with learning disabilities, while the right classes may prevent special needs children from acting out. Determine if there's a link between a special needs child's behavior problems and her classwork, with this overview.

Why Students With Learning Disabilities Act Out

Students with learning disabilities may act out in class for any number of reasons, but the roots of some behavior problems are more common than others.

For instance, students bored by a curriculum that is beneath their ability or by material they simply don't find interesting may be embarrassed they have to complete such coursework. On the other hand, they may also become frustrated if material is too difficult for them or feel like giving up if teachers give lessons too quickly for them to grasp. As a result, they may feel defensive and disrupt the classroom to protect their egos or attempt to restore their "image" before classmates.

The Roots of Problem Behaviors in Special Needs Children 

When the academic needs of students with learning disabilities go unmet, they may show a range of behavior problems. Students' problem behaviors may be the natural result of their frustration, an attempt to shift attention away from their learning disabilities or an attempt to exert control in a situation where they feel powerless.

Their acting out may also stem from their disability, especially if they have attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.

Their misbehavior may also be the result of delayed social skill development or underdeveloped adaptive behavior skills.

How Teachers and Parents Can Reduce Poor Behavior

Parents and teachers may be frustrated when they see children in their care acting in self-destructive or disruptive ways. Thankfully, adults can take a number of steps to lower the likelihood that children with learning disabilities behave in such a manner.

Teachers can ensure that instruction is delivered at or slightly above the child's current skill level. If parents have questions about a teacher's pace, they can arrange a meeting with the teacher and request that classroom materials are appropriate for their child's age level.

Individual achievement assessments can provide information to teachers about a student's skill level. Teachers can use the test to review which skills students need to work on and give children materials designed to help them improve.

Teachers can also take care to choose materials that are of high interest to the student in question. Have students with behavior problems select their own materials when possible.

Overall, teachers should focus on ​adapting and modifying materials to reduce the effect of the disability on classroom performance.

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