Whether you are a special educator or a general educator, pretty much all educators now work with at least some students who have documented educational disabilities. So it can be a great help to have some knowledge about the different educational disabilities and about some of the targeted strategies that you can use to work with your students who have them.

Skilled educators differentiate their instruction to address their students’ learning styles, strengths, needs and their interests. And this is true for all of their students… regardless of whether or not the students have disabilities. The targeted strategies presented on Maryland Learning Links are meant to give teachers additional tools for doing differentiating instruction and supporting all students in their classrooms. At the same time, it’s important to remember that even when teaching students with the same disability, teachers still need to personalize instruction – e.g., a strategy may work for one child with autism, but not with another. Still, the targeted strategies provided here can be a starting point as you work to tailor your instruction for your students with disabilities.


Understand your students.

The IFSP and IEP are more than legal formalities. When used correctly, they guide targeted instruction that addresses a child’s goals. These documents serve as a roadmap of prescribed strategies, interventions, accommodations, and services, and a venue for reporting successes and concerns by all members of that child’s team.

Understand your students’ disabilities and specific strategies – including accommodations listed in the child’s IFSP, IEP, teacher and assessment reports – that may have helped the students in the past.

Understand that students with the same disability are different from one another.

Maintain an open and empathetic relationship with families. Remembe, they live with their children’s’ challenges 24/7; as an educator, you tackle a school-day and a school year. Work to understand the lessons learned from the caregivers outside of school and communicate your ideas and observations in non-judgmental ways.

The most important work you can do is to create opportunities for your students to succeed.

The best way to reach all students is by tapping into their strengths and interests.


Learn about abilities within disabilities from Dr. Stanley Horowitz of the National Center on Learning Disabilities. Click here to view his presentation.

These links help you learn more about all the disabilities and teaching strategies provided on Maryland Learning Links:


Click the category of interest: