Student Ability Profile: Merri


Student Abilities Profile 

Narrative:

Merri is a 16-year-old junior who has had Cerebral Palsy since birth. She uses a wheelchair for mobility and has significant fine motor control difficulties. She can write with a pen or pencil but very slowly. She is quiet in class but friendly. She has difficulty expressing her thoughts verbally but can be understood when she speaks slowly. Her family is very supportive of her participation in all school activities.

Task/Assignment:

Actively participate in science and math classroom and lab experiences, including lab manipulations, field trips, classroom discussions.

Equipment: (lab equipment, furniture, protective clothing, chemicals, etc.)

A wide range of science equipment and materials are used in the science lab. Paper, pencil, chalk, chalkboard, and computers are used in the science and math classroom.

Environment: (facility, fumes, odors, dust, temperature, noise, lighting, etc.)

A field trip to a science museum is planned.

Physical Challenges

  1. Difficulty lifting objects.
  2. Limited fine motor skills make pinching and grasping difficult.
  3. Cannot walk or stand.
  4. Limited ability to turn head.

Potential Strategies / Accommodations

  • Provide extra room to maneuver her wheelchair and an accessible lab area and desk. She needs a large flat surface for experiments that is lower and that allows 29" of clearance underneath. Her chair should be facing the board so she does not have to turn her head. A mirror above teacher demonstrations may be helpful.
  • Provide a lap desk for microscope and a taller or extended eyepiece.
  • Provide a lab partner or assign her to a group. The group should be instructed on how to help her participate to the highest degree possible.
  • Take time to allow slower verbalization.
  • Provide assistance with manipulatives.
  • Sit to talk to her at eye level.
  • Allow extra time for lab setup.
  • Allow more time for writing on tests and written assignments.
  • Provide a scribe or note taker for some tasks.
  • Provide a computer with adaptive technology and a printer for writing tasks.
  • Assure that field trip locations are wheelchair-accessible.

Resources

  • Explore options for accessible transportation. Get information on lift equipped vans from district.
  • Find vendors of modified lab equipment and furniture and make purchases as appropriate.
  • Purchase speech recognition software or other adaptive technology.
  • Explore computer software and hardware to assist in computer use and work.
  • Explore AccessSTEM site at http://www.washington.edu/doit/Stem/ for information on accommodation and assistive technology.

Sensory Challenges

None.

Potential Strategies / Accommodations

None.

Resources

Not applicable.

Cognitive Challenges

  1. Long-term memory difficulty.
  2. Difficulty completing complex tasks.
  3. Low reading ability.
  4. Writes very slowly.
  5. Poor spelling skills.
  6. Low self-esteem.
  7. Poor self-advocacy skills.

Potential Strategies / Accommodations

  • Talk to Merri about learning conditions that work best for her, try her suggestions, and together evaluate the results; encourage self-advocacy efforts.
  • Break down assignments into smaller components.
  • Allow extra time on tests.
  • Allow use of a computer with spelling and grammar checkers.
  • Hold expectations high and praise accomplishments.

Resources

  • Consult the special education teacher, IEP team members, or parents about strategies that maximize success.

Physical, Sensory, and Cognitive Issues and Challenges 

Physical Issues

Think of the required physical aspects of the task. What will make the environment accessible, keep the student safe and allow him/her to be an active participant? What lab equipment must be manipulated?

Physical Challenges

  1. lift / carry
  2. stamina / endurance
  3. push / pull
  4. kneel / squat
  5. reach
  6. repetitive tasks
  7. fine motor: pinch / grasp
  8. fine motor: manipulate / maneuver
  9. gross motor
  10. sit in chair
  11. walk / stand
  12. balance
  13. bend / twist
  14. stoop / crouch
  15. other

Sensory Issues

Think of room temperature, noise, fumes, dust, odors, and allergies. Also consider the ability to speak and/or communicate, and the visual aspects of the task or assignment.

Sensory Issues

  1. vision
  2. hearing
  3. touch
  4. smell
  5. taste
  6. oral communication
  7. temperature
  8. fumes
  9. external stimuli
  10. lighting
  11. other

Cognitive Issues

Is the assignment done with a group, partner or individually? What memory and communication skills are needed? What is the level of complexity of the task.

Cognitive Challenges

  1. short term memory
  2. long term memory
  3. task complexity
  4. reading
  5. writing
  6. spelling
  7. string of numbers (math)
  8. paying attention
  9. visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner.
  10. self-esteem / advocacy issues
  11. behavior issues / acting out
  12. other