A major portion of their school day is spent on learning how to develop life
skills that can help them circumvent the effects of their disability. Unfortunately, this approach to learning may preclude
the recognition and development of cognitive abilities. Therefore, there may be a significant discrepancy between a
disabled child's academic potential and their actual performance (Willard-Holt, 1997). Since these children have
disabilities that may not allow them to manifest gifted behaviors in typical ways, it is difficult to identify them.
For example, children who have hearing impairments may not respond to oral directions, and they may also lack the vocabulary
that reflects the complexity of their thoughts. Children who have visual impairments, although their vocabulary may
be quite advanced, may not understand the full meaning of the words they use (e.g., color words).
Whitmore and Maker (1985) listed four major obstacles to identification in this population
of students: stereotypic expectations (e.g., impaired communication, inability to actively investigate their environment,
gifted children are supposed to "look bright"), incomplete information about the child and no opportunity to evidence
superior mental abilities.
Barbara Clark (1997) offers some simple
strategies for classroom teachers in dealing with students whoa re physically disabled and gifted. Some of these strategies
can be used at home by parents as well.
Actively seek gifted students among those who are disabled
Learn to read the student's symbol system accurately
Provide many different types of learning experiences through different modalities
Modify instruction as needed, but no more than necessary
Hold high expectations for these students
Check for understanding of the student's messages
|Make them an active part of the class|
|Facilitate social interactions first and then allow classmates to take over|
|Encourage cooperation in learning tasks and change partners often|
|Individualize pace and choice of learning activities|
|Allow time for communication of messages from students|
Helping these children
to reach their full potential is truly a team effort. The skills of the regular classroom teacher, the special education
and gifted teachers, the parents, the counselor, the administrator and the researcher are all needed if these students are
to fully actualize their potential abilities.
was taken from the article, A Closer Look at Gifted Children with Disabilities by Cindy Little in the Summer 2001 issue of Gifted
Child Today Magazine.
Theoretical Physicist Stephen
Hawking, one of the greatest scientific minds of our times, suffers from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). If you
would like to learn more about his life and theories, I encourage you to visit his website at: http://www.hawking.org.uk/about/aindex.html
Following are links
to adaptive technology for visually impaired individuals. There is some amazing stuff out there!
http://www.enhancedvision.com provides portable viewing glasses that magnify text and images, hand held digital magnifiers,
and desktop video magnifiers.
http://www.optelec.com provides portable video magnifiers that "stand up" to allow users to write letters
and take notes.
http://www.visioncue.com makes the Magnilink CCTV for use with a laptop computer in lecture halls.
This portable, adjustable camera can be used for close up reading of textbooks as well as distance reading of screens
and boards at the front of the room. It is also capable of taking screen shots for later viewing on the laptop.
http://www.humanware.com is the creator of ZoomText magnification software that enables users to magnify anything on
a computer screen. It also includes a screen reader that reads text aloud.