Evidence-based strategies for intellectual disability

Evidence-based strategies are those that have been evaluated by researchers within school settings, and found to be effective.

Consider adjustments to communication style

Get student's attention before communicating

When giving instructions or talking with students check that you have their full attention before beginning. This can be done out loud or with a gesture.

Be clear and specific

It can be helpful to give clear and specific instructions about the task or behaviour expected, and how much time they have to work in.

Use visual instructions

Visual instructions about a task or behaviour may help support some students. Consider demonstrating the task or behaviour, or asking another student to demonstrate. You could also use a visual schedule, poster, or video to outline or model the task.

Some students may find it easier if they can use gestures

Some may need to point to the correct answer instead of talking.

Give brief prompts immediately before each activity

It can be helpful to remind students what you want them to focus on in that activity.

Give encouragement and guidance

Consider giving effective feedback and correction immediately when students are learning a task or behaviour. This can be reduced gradually as they build their capability.

Consider using least-to-most prompts

If a student isn’t sure of a response or task, prompts that gradually increase in the level of support and/or are provided at set intervals (for example, after 5 seconds) can be helpful. For example, ‘least support’ prompts may be a broad open-ended question “which number comes next” whereas ‘most support’ prompts may be “point to the 6 - the 6 comes next”.

Provide opportunities to work with their peers

Provide lots of opportunities for students to work together
Students with and without intellectual disability can get to know each other and build friendships when they work together. It also helps students learn through watching others.
Allocate specific tasks when engaging in group work
Consider assigning tasks if a student with an intellectual disability uses tailored materials or instructions. You could also choose a group member to act as a tutor or mentor. Read more about guiding students to balance their own workload when supporting a peer.

Consider adjustments to activites and rules

Some tasks may need to be tailored to better engage a student
Tailor tasks for the student’s current level of understanding so they can achieve success.
Include student interests
For example, if a student is motivated by cars, offer a small bundle of toy cars for addition and subtraction.
When the student completes their mathematics, encourage them with some time to play with the cars.
Have a consistent routine
Routines help a student understand how to behave. Students often feel more secure when they know what to expect. Refer to our class schedule page.
Consider teaching the whole class how to self-monitor
Recognise and record their individual completion of a specific behaviour or skill. Refer to our self-monitoring form page.

Provide lots of opportunities to practise

Students may need to practise a task or behaviour many times

Lots of time to practise in different settings and with different materials can help students learn to use that skill in other situations. 
Offer fewer tasks with more opportunities to practise
Offering fewer tasks with more time for students to learn and practise these tasks may be more helpful than offering many tasks with little opportunity to practise. 
Moree East Public school