Creating Connections: Meeting your Students’ Physical and Cognitive Needs
Blog on April 15 2022
Physical and Cognitive Development
In our last blog series, we discussed how the No Limits Method understands the role of communication & choice in teaching students with disabilities. We saw that many students with disabilities struggle with various learning and language difficulties, and detailed some strategies to further these students’ development. In this blog post, we’ll begin explaining how the Method provides instructors with resources and support to help them meet the physical and cognitive needs of the students they serve.
Movement, like communication, is understandably taken for granted by most people; however, the true importance of movement is misunderstood by most people for this same reason. We know that early milestones for physical and cognitive development require movement and exploration. For example, we know both from experience and developmental research, that early engagement with the environment and other humans is required to reach cognitive milestones like language development, mathematical understanding, and so on. For many students with disabilities, the ability to reach these milestones is delayed since their disabilities can prevent them from exploring their environments in typical ways. Clearly, cognitive progress and physical interactions with the world are linked together. To help students reach these milestones, we must adapt our instructional environments and strategies accordingly. We need to connect students with the world around them using all the resources, instructional strategies, and therapeutic interventions at our disposal. Since each student’s disability presents a unique set of challenges, we should incorporate strategies and know-how from a variety of areas of expertise in order to help our students to learn in a way that fits their individual needs.
Understanding the Method through Digital Lessons
The Method is designed to help instructors (teachers, paraprofessionals, parents, etc.) better understand how this can be done in a variety of educational settings. You probably noticed the mention of “therapeutic intervention” and wondered: “Do I have to know the things that physical/occupational/speech therapists know in order to use the Method to help my student(s)?” The short answer is no. However, you’ll remember from our earlier blogs that the Method facilitates direct collaboration between instructors (public, private, or home-school) and therapists (PT/OT/SLP) to meet the needs of students with disabilities and help them to develop cognitively through adapted interactions with the environment. More importantly, these interactions work with, rather than against, each child’s disability.
What resources does the No Limits Method provide to help make this happen? First, it provides a series of Digital Lessons. These lessons provide those using the Method with a blueprint for adapting lesson plans and activities that they’ve created for their students. Using these lessons, organizing activities for multiple students can be managed more easily. In this way, every student can be included in each educational activity in a manner that fits with their specific needs, helping them to make genuine cognitive progress. The Digital Lessons are presented by our therapeutic educators, Jared Leverington and Savannah Moffett, who’ve utilized the method for many years while working at our demonstration school, No Limits Academy. They were able to become therapeutic educators through their collaboration with the therapeutic professionals on their team, and by detailing to these professionals the challenges and needs that they noticed when working with their students. Gradually, both the therapists and the instructors grew to understand how to fine-tune instructional delivery and adaptation, and how to remove potential learning-barriers for each student.
Micro-Credential Courses on the No Limits Method
This aspect of the No Limits Method is replicated in the micro-credentialing courses. These courses include a series of videos presented by the No Limits Method team, including our experts in physical, occupational, and speech therapy. The courses are designed to explain, in greater detail, both why the Method works and how it can be applied in any educational setting. For example, if you have a student who is nonverbal and has limited ability of their limbs: how would you adapt lessons for them or help them to communicate? By addressing specific needs like this, we can ensure students learn, in their own way and at their own pace. This approach also helps us gain a new understanding of learning itself: that each student’s brain, body, and environment must work together to achieve growth and progress. The role of the instructor and therapist is only to facilitate this process and help each student along. The courses will also provide resources and strategies for instructors and therapists to communicate more effectively with each other and learn to speak a common “professional language”. Lastly, the Method allows you to understand that individual growth and progress is unique to every student as well. When we understand this, we can properly honor the highest potential that a student has, seeing each life as a full life, regardless of the abilities that someone may or may not have, or the progress that someone may or may not make. This allows us to show each student their value, both as an individual and as a member of the community, and help them understand that they are not defined by perceived limitations, but defined by who they are as a unique person. These Core Values of meeting the emotional and spiritual needs of each student will be addressed in our next blog as we continue to discuss how to improve the future for students with disabilities!
For more tips, tricks, and tools for teaching in and out of the classroom, check out more articles on the Teq Talk blog.
We also offer virtual professional development, training, and remote learning support for educators with OTIS for educators. Explore the technology, tools, and strategies that can spark student success — no matter where teaching or learning are happening.