Giving Kids with LD & ADHD an Equal Opportunity to Learn

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What is Universal Design for Learning?

“Universal design calls for planning for the needs of the broadest possible range of users.

Within an educational framework, universal design refers to a similar approach in designing and delivering products and services, such as curricula, instruction, and evaluations.

Application for Special Education

For students with LD and ADHD, who may struggle with traditional teaching methods, UDL offers the opportunity to access learning in ways that utilize their strengths rather than focusing on their deficits.

Students’ individual learning styles are taken into account, in order to take advantage of the different ways in which they are able to learn.

Brain research tells us that lecturing to students and then asking them to repeat the information or using standard textbooks are not the best ways of getting the message across.

Rather, a student must be engaged in order to learn.

Teachers are encouraged to vary the ways in which they present information, regardless of a student’s learning abilities. For example, material may be presented orally, visually in images, as in videos or DVDs, in song, through music, in Braille, and kinesthetically in hands-on activities.

Because students learn better when they are motivated and engaged, teachers need to allow students to explore their own interests, and consider developmental and cultural concerns. Some need repetition; others thrive on novelty and surprise.

In an environment that applies the principles of UDL, students are given choices, for example, a menu of activities from which to select their preferences. The amount of support and challenge is also varied, again depending on the student’s abilities.

Students are also encouraged to demonstrate what they have learned in a variety of ways. For kids who can’t express themselves well in writing, a traditional written assignment may be a poor measure of their learning.

While the need for students to take written exams cannot be ignored, it should not be the only way to determine what they know.

Simply put, UDL allows all students to access information and be evaluated in ways that take advantage of their abilities—rather than requiring them to learn in ways that allow their deficits to become barriers to success.”

This post contains excepts from an article by Eve Kessler, Esq., President of SPED*NET Wilton (CT) based on a presentation by Kathleen Whitbread, Ph.D.

Go to SMARTKIDS with LD for the complete article – Universal Design for Learning: Opening Doors for Students with LD and ADHD

More About Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Wrightslaw Assistive Technology page at

National Center on Universal Design for Learning at

  1. Rachel, I am not sure if you have had an evaluation done by the school or not. If not you need to request an evaluation via letter to the school & then you MUST sign the school’s consent form. The 60 day time frame to get the test results start after you sign the school’s consent form. They are not legally obligated to provide you with anything until then. AFter you get the results (you can request a copy ahead of time in DRAFT form so you can go over the results with your professionals ) After the test results you will have a meeting to discuss results & services. If you do not agree with the school than you may opt to get an outside evaluation done at the school’s expense. Again you send a letter & you do not have to detail why only that you do not agree. Once you get the eval you meet again. Due process is an option.

  2. I have a question about getting an IEP and a Para. I have a 6 year old son who has ADHD, ODD, OCD, ESP, and seizures. I requested an IEP and a Para before school started and was told he doesn’t meet the reuirements for one. We live in Oklahoma. Can you tell me what the requirements are to get him an IEP and a Para? I have repeatedly asked the school for this and they won’t even do a 504 for him. I am really frustrated and he is missing a lot of class-time because of his health concerns and they are not sure how to handle him. Please help. Thanks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Please help us defeat spam. Thank you. *