When you think about it, most neurotypical children and adults will never truly understand what it is like to walk through this world with a disability – whether that is blindness, deafness, speech language impairment, autism, or ADHD. In order to create an inclusive classroom as a teacher it can be beneficial to participate in activities and use resources that give you a better understanding of the various disabilities that students live with.
Let’s look at some inclusive activities and resources that you can use with your coworkers so they can have a better understanding of what it’s like participating in day to day school activities with a disability.
On YouTube, you can find many videos such as this one that give the viewer a small glimpse into experience sensory overload, and just how often our sensory experiences truly intertwine in everyday life.
Other ways to demonstrate sensory processing could be playing really loud music and flicker some lights while they are trying to complete their work, or give them something uncomfortable materials they have to sit on or wear during a their work.
One simple thing to do is blindfold a few of your colleagues and let them try and find a library book. This will give them a glimpse into what it’s like when you have to navigate your way through a school day, but can’t see and have to learn to find things through touch and sound.
Give your colleagues a reading passage that you know should be simple for them to read, but jumble up some of the words or add nonsense words to the text. This will help them to better understand what it’s like to read when a student has a learning disability in reading, such as dyslexia.
Another way to have your colleagues better understand this, is to find an old keyboard, pop the keys out and put them back in upside down, backwards, or in the wrong order so they can understand what it’s like not being able to focus on the keyboard or understanding the placement of the letters.
Working with ADHD
If you are presenting something, now is a good time to ask a colleague, or even yourself, to just randomly yell out, stand-up, walk around, or constantly look away being distracted by someone else. While you are doing that purposefully, this will help your colleagues better understand that a student with ADHD who does this, can’t help it.
Writing with Fine Motor Deficits
Give your colleagues a simple sentence to copy or write, then ask them to do it with their non-dominant hand. This gives them a glimpse into what it’s like to write when fine motor skills are a weakness.
Communicating with Speech Language Impairments
Have you ever heard of the game chubby bunny? It’s where you put marshmallows in your mouth and keep saying “chubby bunny” repetitively until you can’t do it anymore. This strategy could be altered to where your colleagues are trying to have a conversation with their peers and other teachers, but experience the frustration of not being understood like your students with a speech language impairment.
These are just a few, quick and easy activities and resources you can use to help your colleagues better understand what being in school with a disability is like. Have you ever done any of these with your colleagues? Let us know in the comments below!