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Adapting Lessons to Support Students with Severe Disabilities


Lessons typically require that children water plants or feed a class pet in some way. For most children this will be accomplished through a physical interaction. For children who can’t use their upper/lower extremities due to significant physical difficulties, you can help them water/feed something by using one or more of the following approaches.

  • Use hand over hand assistance and allow student to have experience. With this approach, the teacher, assistant, or student partner takes the students hand and assist them in performing the task requested (i.e., help student hold onto the watering can or cup for feeding and help them pour)
  • Use adapted pour cups from enabling devices or other adapted materials.

Simple Voice output devices:

The student can utilize simple voice output devices to respond, answer questions, and participate in classroom discussions. The teacher can program messages into the simple devices and the student can activate the device at the appropriate time in the activity, to answer a question, etc. These devices can be borrowed from various resources such as North Carolina Assistive Technology Project lending libraries, school assistive technology teams, speech and/or occupational therapy departments, or purchased from vendors.

Websites for devices:


Put instructions on a simple voice output device and let the student direct another student on what to do and the other student perform the physical part of the activity.