6 Types of Multisensory Learning for Special Needs Students

Posted by Krystie Yeo on

Approximately 14% of all students enrolled in public school required special education. Special needs students are a large part of the school district. And need a multisensory approach to learning. 
 
Multisensory learning can help children catch up on reading, writing, arithmetic, and more. It can also-
  • help keep students engaged
  • help with managing behavior
  • improve social skills
If you have an interest in learning more about what kind of multisensory learning techniques to use with your child or students, then keep reading on...
 
Why Explore Multisensory Learning?
 
Multisensory learning is using more than one sense for learning techniques.
There are four main senses that people use for making sense of the world around us. 
 
These senses are also used for learning and memorizing information. They are:
  • Visual 
  • Auditory
  • Tactile
  • Kinesthetic
Visual learning involves using your sense of sight. Picture books, posters, and schedules are helpful for children who primarily use this sense.
 
Auditory learners learn best with their ears. This requires effective communication and providing audiobooks versus standard books. Music can also be a great tool for these children to use. 
 
Tactile learners work best with their hands. They have to be touching something for it to make the most sense to them. There are techniques and tools that teachers use in art and math that cater to someone who is a tactile learner. 
 
Kinesthetic learners work best when they are moving. If you have kids or students that don't sit still, then consider making a game of whatever it is you are teaching. 
 
Sometimes, the movement does not have to be a hindrance if you are using it in the right ways. 
 
As you can probably guess, multisensory learning incorporates more than one of these senses... A great benefit of multisensory learning is that it can work for many different children!
 
1. Get Dirty
 
One example of multisensory learning includes having children repeat a word or sound and then write it down. It doesn't have to be with a pencil and paper either. 
 
Instead, get creative and use your tactile learners. Have the children draw in the sand or with paint or glitter. You can also have them sound out the word while they are writing it to incorporate your auditory learners
 
2. Use Blocks
 
As children see a word or letter, have them grab a matching block to help spell it out. This can also be used for working through math problems. You can have the children sound out the letter or number as they are working through a problem. 
 
Don't be afraid to help them out with some visual cues on the board or by working with them one-on-one and moving their hand with the block. This engages many senses and can work for a variety of different learning styles. 
 
3. Adapted Books
 
A great multisensory approach to learning includes utilizing adapted books. These are specialized books that are modified for different learning styles. Adapted books work well with special needs kids or those who are struggling with reading and writing
 
There is a large realm of possibility with these books. You can incorporate physical objects into them, add braille, create moving images, and more
 
You can also cater to your students' grade levels and whether they are verbal or nonverbal.
 
4. Use Technology 
 
You don't have to resort to good old-fashioned books for learning. One of the many benefits of multisensory learning in today's day and age is that there are many forms you can pick from. If children are struggling with learning a concept, look at choosing digital formats. 
 
You can also have the children take part in interactive games through touchscreen technology. This incorporates visual, auditory, and tactile learning. You have the option of casting or projecting visuals, videos, and more, onto your screen throughout the day.  
 
5. Visual Instructions and Videos
 
Multisensory learning tools and strategies aren't limited to classroom settings. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic shed a light on just how critical it is to have these tools at home as well. 
 
Adapted books also work well as a supplemental learning tool or for homeschool techniques. There are also a few ways that can make it easier for homeschooling special needs children.
 
For starters - make sure there is some form of structure. Typically, special needs students do well in a classroom where there is structure, expectations, and rules
 
Use a multisensory approach to this with visual boards, removable items, and drawings that kids can use when they complete an item. Also, if you are a teacher, then work towards creating visual instructions and fun videos. 
 
Technology is a great way for engaging children and having them participate with you. If you want to encourage an activity, try having them mimic you on the screen. This appeals to your kinesthetic and visual learners. 
 
For even more dynamics, you can have the children repeat phrases, words, numbers, or rhymes. 
 
6. Scheduled Play
 
Some of the best examples of multisensory learning are oftentimes the most fun. While special needs children work well with structure, make sure you have time set aside for play. 
 
Colored play dough, Jenga, and playing outside are some great options for kids to burn off energy. These sensory activities can help manage unwanted behaviors like aggression, irritation, or hyperactivity. 
 
Additionally, you can turn it into a learning tool by having the kids use the playground, chalk, or soccer fields for learning activities. Create treasure hunts or even have the children sound out and identify the various sounds they hear in nature
 
Reap the Benefits of Multisensory Learning
 
There are many different tools that you can use for multisensory learning with special needs children. The main point is to use something fun and creative. Also, try and gear your searches to items that use almost every sense for catering to all your children.
 
If you want to tackle your school subjects in one go, then be sure and check out our site for new and improved task bins.
While you are on there, you can browse various multisensory learning items that work for your school or home set-up.