Learning style and Intellectual Disability

It is often said that people with an intellectual disability need to ‘learn, learn and overlearn’. This means that they may require many opportunities to practice concepts and skills in order for them to understand and retain the information to draw upon into the future.


Depending on the degree of the intellectual disability, explicit teaching will generally be required in order for the child to learn the required information. Generally children with an ID are visual kinaesthetic learners. This means they learn best when they have visual imagery to help them process concepts and when they can touch and feel objects- kinaesthetic. Where the disability is more severe the student may require an adult to do the activity with them and to provide many opportunities to practice the task- ‘learn, learn and overlearn’.

Providing structure within what is being taught with systematic instruction on the component steps of the academics or social adaptive skills, will aid learning. Using a visual schedule will assist in providing the child with an explanation of what the expectations are.

Providing and teaching the use of concrete supports such as visual or written schedules, to do lists, mind maps will assist the children and adults to focus and become self-managers of their learning.

The learning style of students and older people with ID will be variable depending on the level of their disability. Generally however, they will have a preferred visual kinaesthetic learning style; they learn by seeing and doing. To assist with learning and understanding you need to consider presenting information in this way.

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