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How to help students with learning differences succeed at school

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Students with learning differences often need additional help with school. Here's how to help students with learning differences succeed at school.

How to help students with learning differences succeed at school

Students with learning disabilities can succeed when presented with information in ways they can easily digest. Learning differences can be overcome in ways that support students by making subtle changes to their learning environments. Although sometimes challenging, students with different types of learning disabilities can succeed and thrive academically.

What are learning differences?

To better understand what types of changes to the learning process can better support students with learning disabilities, it’s important to know the different types of learning differences there are. Learning styles for each may differ; however, having an understanding of the basic types of learning differences is crucial for their success as students. Your school district most likely provides professional development that will give you strategies that will support students with learning differences.


Learners with dyslexia have difficulty understanding written words. They experience problems with reading comprehension and have issues understanding words they already know.


Dysgraphia is a learning disability that interferes will all aspects of writing. This can include spelling and difficulty with proper word spacing, sizing, and writing within a defined area.


Those with dyscalculia have trouble understanding the most basic concepts of arithmetic and difficulty performing mathematical calculations.


Students with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) have difficulty focusing and paying attention, have little control over impulsive behaviors, and can be especially active.

Autism spectrum disorder

ASD (autism spectrum disorder) is a developmental disability that causes students to have problems with social interaction and communication. Some experience compulsive, repetitive behaviors and multisensory processing deficiencies.

Helping students with learning differences become better at school

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy to help students succeed in school with learning disabilities. However, by recognizing what those learning differences require and with a hands-on approach, they can attain academic achievement. Many of the techniques we’ll outline help to support students overall, not just those with learning difficulties.

Allow movement

Children with ADHD have difficulty remaining still and focused, which creates a difficult learning experience. For students with ADHD in middle school or lower, incorporating some movement into the curriculum is beneficial. Instead of chairs, the students can be offered a bouncy ball or yoga ball to sit on. Gently bouncing on the ball can help to release the obsession to move around, allowing them to stay focused and more involved in the learning process. This can help to keep their hyperactivity under control.

Sensory breaks

Some students, especially those with autism spectrum disorder, can become quickly overwhelmed due to too much sensory input. Some learning environments can be a hindrance for them and their learning process. Sensory breaks can greatly improve their mental health.

During these short breaks, students on the autism spectrum can be given a sensory tool such as kinetic sand, water beads, or a calming coloring book.

Assistive technology tools

Middle school and high school students with dyslexia can greatly improve their academic achievements by using assistive technology tools. Text to speech tools such as Speechify can help them to read and retain information better by reading along while listening to a narrator read the text aloud.

Special education

Some students with learning difficulties require special education programs. This can be achieved by having them go to an independent school that focuses on students with learning disabilities or to a mainstream school with a special education teacher. Special education programs can help these students with their social skills, time management, problem-solving, and overall well-being. Special education programs can be for an entire school year or for a shorter amount of time. A special education teacher can work with an individual student or an entire class.

Parents of students with learning disabilities can look into IEP (Individualized Education Programs) and decide if in-person learning or special education programs are best for their child.

Other general recommendations

For optimal student achievement for children with learning disabilities, educators can implement small changes to their education system. Slight adjustments to learning environments can improve the mental health of all students, not just those with learning disabilities:

  • To help keep distractions and stress to a minimum, ensure your lesson plans are organized
  • Celebrate small victories for all students, including those with learning difficulties
  • Always maintain a positive attitude and outlook
  • Support students and help them to set goals they can achieve
  • Speak directly to the parents of students with learning difficulties to gain a better understanding of their competencies
  • Be more aware and educated as to how special education programs function
  • Spend time helping students succeed and improve their social skills

Boost learning with Speechify

For students with learning disabilities, text to speech tools like Speechify can assist with the learning process. Children diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia can greatly improve their reading fluency by reading along while listening to the words being read back aloud. Speechify is a wonderful and effective tool that provides different learning environments for more effective reading comprehension.

Users can adjust the narration speed to one that they’re most comfortable with. A fun option to get your child more interested in reading while listening to it being read aloud is changing the narrator’s voice to that of a celebrity.

Speechify is compatible with iOS, Android, and Chrome browsers. It’s easy to use and could help your child overcome their learning difficulties. Try Speechify for free today.


What are the three examples of effective teaching strategies for students with learning disabilities?

Allowing movement, multisensory breaks, and the use of assisted technology are three effective strategies for students with learning disabilities.

What should teachers do before they start dealing with learning challenges?

Teachers should first have an understanding of learning differences and learning disabilities. Professional development programs can provide teachers with tools that help with student success. Immersing themselves in strategies that support students with special needs is key. These students succeed with slightly different education programs.

Are there strategies to avoid for students with learning disabilities?

It’s important to understand that students with learning disabilities have much different learning styles than other students. Forcing them to sit still won’t eliminate their hyperactivity. If you set goals that are far from their competencies, it can cause frustration for students and should be avoided. Not allowing a student with multisensory processing difficulties the time to decompress isn’t beneficial to their academic achievement.

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman

Cliff Weitzman is a dyslexia advocate and the CEO and founder of Speechify, the #1 text-to-speech app in the world, totaling over 100,000 5-star reviews and ranking first place in the App Store for the News & Magazines category. In 2017, Weitzman was named to the Forbes 30 under 30 list for his work making the internet more accessible to people with learning disabilities. Cliff Weitzman has been featured in EdSurge, Inc., PC Mag, Entrepreneur, Mashable, among other leading outlets.