When you think about it, most neurotypical children and adults will never truly understand what it’s like to navigate this world with a disability—whether it’s blindness, deafness, speech impediment, autism, or ADHD. In order to create an inclusive classroom as a teacher, it can be beneficial to participate in activities and use resources that allow you to better understand the different disabilities that students live with.
Let’s look at some inclusive activities and resources you can use with your co-workers so they can better understand what it’s like to participate in everyday school activities with a disability.
You can find many videos like this on YouTube that give the viewer a little insight into how to experience sensory overload and how often our sensory experiences actually intertwine in everyday life.
Other ways to demonstrate sensory processing could be playing really loud music and flashing some lights as they try to complete their work, or giving them some uncomfortable material to sit on or wear while they do their work.
One simple thing you can do is to blindfold a few of your colleagues and have them try to find a book in the library. This will give them an insight into what it’s like to have to walk through the school day but can’t see and have to learn to look for things by touch and sound.
Have your peers read a passage that you know should be easy for them to read, but mix up some words or add nonsense words to the text. This will help them better understand what it’s like to read when a student has a learning disability like dyslexia.
Another way to help your colleagues understand this is to find an old keyboard, slide out the keys and put them back upside down, upside down, or in the wrong order so they understand what it’s like to not be able to focus on the keyboard or understanding letter placement.
Working with ADHD
If you’re giving a presentation, now is a good time to ask a colleague or even yourself to randomly shout, stand, walk around, or constantly look away from someone else. Even if you do this on purpose, it will help your peers to better understand that the student with ADHD who is doing this is not to blame.
Writing with fine motor skills
Give your colleagues a simple sentence to copy or write, then ask them to do it with their non-dominant hand. This gives them a glimpse of what it’s like to write when fine motor skills are a weakness.
Communication with speech disorders
Have you ever heard of the chubby bunny game? It’s where you put a marshmallow in your mouth and repeat “chubby bunny” over and over until you can’t do it anymore. This strategy can be changed so that your colleagues try to converse with their peers and other teachers, but experience the frustration of not being understood as your speech impaired students.
These are just a few quick and easy activities and resources you can use to help your colleagues better understand what it’s like to be in a school with a disability. Have you ever done any of these with your colleagues? Let us know in the comments below!