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This section provides strategies and techniques for supporting students with Learning Differences and Disabilities.

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Strategies for Distraction/Focus management (Hart Barnett, 2017):


-standing desk

-low distraction location 

-work area clear of all non-relevant items



-strategic pausing

-workload reduction

-embedded physical movement



Multisensory Method

Phonological Intervention

Cognitive Training


Effective multisensory instruction is based on the following key principles (from

Teaching using all learning pathways in the brain (i.e., visual, auditory, kinesthetic- tactile) simultaneously or sequentially 


Being Systematic and Cumulative in the Instruction of Concepts.
Multisensory language instruction requires that instruction begins with the easiest and most basic concepts and proceeds gradually to more complex material. Each new concept should be related to the concepts already learned. Concepts should be reviewed regularly to strengthen memory.  The progress tracker can be used to guide this review.


Direct Instruction: 

The inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multisensory language instruction requires direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.


Diagnostic Teaching: 

The teacher must be adept at flexible or individualized teaching. The teaching plan is based on careful and continuous assessment of the individual’s needs. The content presented
must be mastered step by step for the student to progress.


Synthetic and Analytic Instruction:
Multisensory, structured language programs include both synthetic and analytic instruction. Synthetic instruction presents the parts of the language and then teaches how the parts work together to form a whole. Analytic instruction presents the whole and teaches how this
can be broken down into its component parts.


Comprehensive and Inclusive: 

All levels of language are addressed, often in parallel, including sounds (phonemes), symbols (graphemes), meaningful word parts (morphemes), word and phrase meanings (semantics), sentences (syntax), longer passages (discourse), and the social uses of language (pragmatics). 


Orton-Gillingham is considered a multi-sensory approach: … the constant use of associations of all of the following: how a letter or word looks, how it sounds and how the speech organs or the hand in writing feels when producing it’ (Gillingham and Stillman, 1956, p. 17)

-phonological intervention


Resource on Phonological Awareness and Dyslexia:



From: Phonological Remediation Program for Students with Learning Difficulties

The program had a total of 18 cumulative sessions, that is, each session was worked on a new activity associated with the activities of the previous session. The sequence in which the program's activities are carried out is described below:

1) Identification of the sound and the letter: all the letters of the alphabet were presented on A4 paper and the students should name them and identify the sounds of the alphabet.

2) Identification of words within a sentence: seven affirmative sentences were orally presented so that students could divide the sentence into words, marking them with palms.

3) Identification and manipulation of syllables in the word: two words were presented orally so that the students could identify which were the same syllables contained in it. Students were also asked to manipulate syllabic segmentation to form new words in initial, medial and final positions. In each session, six words were provided.

4) Phonemic synthesis: seven words were presented orally separated by sounds and students should recognize them.

5) Rhyme: the students were asked to identify words that ended with the same sound and pictures whose names rhymed with these words.

6) Identification and discrimination of phonemes: a phoneme was presented orally and students were asked to say a word that begins with this sound. Afterwards, seven words were presented orally and the students were asked about the presence of the target phoneme in each one of them. The phonemes were presented considering the sequence of speech and language development.

7) Phoneme segmentation: a word was presented orally and the students were asked to say all the phonemes contained in it. Colored sheets were used to help students in the segmentation of sounds. In each session, seven words were provided.

8) Phoneme subtraction: six words were presented to students to remove the final phoneme and then six words to remove the initial phoneme.

9) Phoneme replacement: a word was presented orally and students were asked to remove the initial phoneme and replace it with another, thus forming a new word. In each session, seven words were given to the students.

10) Phoneme transposition: students were asked to speak the words in reverse order to form new words.


Applied in “Phonological remediation in students with ADHD and dyslexia”


“The phonological remediation program contributes to the development of phonological processing, reading and text comprehension in this population.” Martins et al. 2020


-cognitive training


-must go beyond literacy skills and address cognitive function (Nurul et al. 2018)


Dyslexia and handwriting: “learning to spell better results in children writing better overall. In short, the value of teaching spelling to children with dyslexia extends beyond reading into written composition.” Hebert et al. 2018.


-phonetic breakdowns

-Reading Recovery System




“A meta-analysis on this topic has shown that symptom-specific interventions, in which persons with dyscalculia are mainly given mathematical tasks to practice, yields markedly better improvement in all areas of mathematical performance than no intervention at all or non–symptom-specific interventions that mainly train other skills (e.g., working memory)” Haberstroh 2019.


“Other clinically relevant symptoms and disorders that might affect mathematical performance should also be taken into account in choosing suitable interventions. If such symptoms/disorders are present, it is important to differentiate whether they are functionally linked to dyscalculia (e.g., math anxiety) or not (e.g., ADHD). In all cases, any comorbid mental disorder must be considered in the design of a suitable treatment plan.” Haberstroh 2019


“Treatment should be provided in individual sessions of at least 45 minutes’ duration. Treatment was found to have a weaker effect if provided in a group setting (-0.19 [-0.37; -0.01]) or in sessions lasting less than 45 minutes (-0.49 [-1.02; 0.04])”. Haberstroh 2019


“Preschool children who are held to be at risk for developing dyscalculia should receive supportive treatment as early as possible, as this has been found to have a beneficial effect on the later development of mathematical competence and on scholastic performance (31, 32).” Haberstroh 2019


Research-supported dyscalculia interventions (from Haberstroh 2019)

Also from Haberstroh 2019:

  • The treatment of dyscalculia

    • Koponen et al. (e131): A non-randomized controlled study comparing two groups (an intervention group and a waiting-list control group), each consisting of 62 Finnish children with dyscalculia, in the 2nd to 4th grades, to test the efficacy of rule and strategy training for to promote rapid recall of math facts. The intervention was in a small-group setting and consisted of two weekly sessions of 45 minutes each for a total of 12 weeks. The intervention group performed significantly better in recalling facts relating to addition tasks, as well as on a test of fact knowledge in the basic arithmetic operations. The improvement of performance on subtraction tasks was not significant. Within the intervention group, a switch was observed from counting strategies to breakdown strategies and direct fact retrieval.

    • Kohn et al. (e132): A non-randomized controlled study comparing three groups (an intervention group, a control training group, and a waiting-list control group), each consisting of 22 or 23 German children with dyscalculia, in the 2nd to 5th grades, to test the efficacy of computer-based training of numerical and quantitative processing, and of arithmetic. The intervention consisted of five practice sessions per week lasting 20 minutes each for a total of 6–8 weeks. The control training group received computer-based training in spelling. The intervention group performed significantly better than the other two groups on subtraction and number line tasks. The improvement of performance on addition tasks was not significant.




-may require intervention of Occupational Therapist

-develop hand and wrist strength (play with clay, manipulatives, fine motor games, etc)

-cursive may be easier than printing

-practice formations and general base movements (strokes vs circles etc)

-tracing practice

-use outlines and pictorial planners for writing


Processing Deficits


Visual processing

-discuss requirements and steps verbally

-use blank paper to cover unnecessary text or other visual information while reading


Auditory processing

-provide visual guides and instructions


Auditory acuity is the ability to detect the presence of sounds at various levels of intensity and frequency. It’s only one of many auditory abilities, yet it’s the only competency many teachers consider when evaluating a child’s listening skills.

Other auditory abilities are not as widely understood and not as easily addressed.

Auditory attention is the ability to direct and sustain attention to preferred sound messages. Those with auditory attention problems have difficulty selecting relevant from irrelevant sounds (poor auditory figure-ground ability).

Auditory memory is the ability to remember auditory sound patterns. Children build a reserve of previously learned sound patterns from which they recall and then interpret and integrate their auditory environment.

Auditory discrimination is the ability to detect similarities and differences between sounds. Those with poor discrimination may not, for example, be able to hear the difference between the words took and book.

Auditory synthesis (integration) is the ability to blend independent sound units into complete aural units (words) such as c-ar-t, or t-a-ble.

Auditory comprehension is the ability to decode and derive meaning from sound messages. This requires competence in several auditory abilities:  attention, memory, discrimination and integration.

Auditory-visual integration is the ability to integrate auditory and visual messages. Because sound is fleeting, visual stimuli often support the interpretation of sound.  Associating a picture or the printed word with the spoken word is an auditory-visual integration activity.

Children who have  auditory processing deficits often find reading, writing and spelling difficult because these skills require an ability to: recognize and distinguish between sounds in words; blend them together; separate words into syllables; and, follow auditory sequences.  Many children with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD) also have speech and language deficits such as low vocabulary, poor flexibility of vocal patterns and articulation problems.

Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario


  Gonçalves, F. A. (2018). Effect of auditory-motor training on auditory processing of school children. Einstein /, 16(4).

For possible interventions

References retrieved 2021

Hart Barnett, J. E. (2017). Helping Students with ADHD in the Age of Digital Distraction. Research, Advocacy, and Practice for Complex and Chronic Conditions, 36(2), 1–7.

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