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Intrinsic Barriers: Unique In Every Way


The old adage rings: “If you have met one child with Autism, you have met one child with Autism.” I want to generalise this statement by saying this applies to all children who experience barriers to learning.

Children who have been diagnosed with intrinsic barriers to learning (physical, sensory, and neurological and developmental impairments, chronic illness, psycho-social disturbances and differing intellectual ability) are often labelled by their diagnoses, but what we forget is that their diagnosis is only a small part of who they are. These children are so much more than their label and they each carry unique personality traits. As a learning support educator it is useful to have the correct diagnosis, but what truly makes one successful in planning the correct interventions, is considering the individual.

A few years ago I had a learner who was diagnosed with ASD and dyslexia. Teachers were mostly frustrated with him and felt that they could not get through to him. Some teachers even suggested that he had reached his ceiling. I had my work cut out for me.

I started the process of intervention by forming a relationship with this boy. I would go as far as to say that his academics wasn’t my first priority. Firstly, I had to fix the broken trust relationship he had with teachers. After a few lessons, his mind started opening for learning. I carefully considered interventions that would work for his diagnosis, but mostly planned a lesson that would engage my learner. To prepare a lesson like this I had to gauge his interests and understand what made him tick.

What I learnt from my learner is that his diagnosis only gave me the starting point for intervention, but that I needed to get to know him to truly unlock his hidden potential. What I also learnt is that his approach may not work for the next learner. I need to be flexible in my thinking and approach and value each learner that sits in front of me.

2 thoughts on “Intrinsic Barriers: Unique In Every Way”

  1. Our daughter had to leave school due to mental health issues. Home schooling has not been going great and she is behind. She misses being around peers and having structure. Mental health is good now but she cannot go back to school at her age (16) and start grade 9 again. It will be too humiliating for her and cause more anxiety than wanted. We live in robertson. Is there something u can recommend to help her finish school?

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