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Strategies and Recommendations for Extensive Support Needs Teachers:

Posted by Lisa Hendry Dillon on

Creating a Supportive Learning Environment:

  • Structure and Routines: Establish clear routines and schedules with visual cues (pictures, timers) to help students predict what comes next and feel safe.
  • Sensory Needs: Identify and address student's sensory needs. Provide fidget toys, noise-cancelling headphones, or designated quiet areas as needed.
  • Positive Reinforcement: Focus on positive reinforcement and celebrate even small successes. Use clear praise and reward systems.
  • Visual Supports: Utilize visual aids extensively, such as pictures, charts, and graphic organizers, to break down information and support understanding.
  • Physical Space: Arrange the classroom for clear pathways and designated areas for different activities. Consider incorporating calming corners or sensory stations.

Instructional Strategies:

  • Individualized Learning: Develop Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) or similar plans that cater to each student's specific needs, learning styles, and goals.
  • Multi-sensory Instruction: Incorporate various learning styles by using auditory, visual, and kinesthetic activities to reinforce concepts.
  • Explicit Instruction: Break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps and provide clear, concise instructions with frequent checks for understanding.
  • Choice and Control: Offer students choices when possible to promote a sense of autonomy and engagement.
  • Assistive Technology: Explore and utilize assistive technology tools like communication devices, screen readers, or specialized software to support learning.
  • Social and Emotional Learning (SEL): Integrate SEL activities to help students develop emotional regulation, communication, and social skills.

Collaboration and Communication:

  • Collaboration with Team: Work closely with paraprofessionals, therapists, and other specialists to provide a comprehensive support system for students.
  • Communication with Families: Maintain regular communication with families to share progress, address concerns, and collaborate on strategies.
  • Professional Development: Continuously seek professional development opportunities to improve your knowledge and skills in supporting students with extensive needs.


  • Be patient and flexible. Every student learns differently and at their own pace.
  • Celebrate individuality. Every student has unique strengths and talents to nurture.
  • Take care of yourself. Prioritize self-care practices to address stress and maintain your well-being.

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