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Disability-Specific Characteristic Matrix:

Academic Characteristics

Specific Learning Disabilities

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders

Behavioral Characteristics

Difficulty learning how to read,


write, as well as mathematics.
Poor academic performance.
Require accommodations (e.g.,
more time to take test).
Displayed more off-task behavior
and distractibility.
Require more of the teachers
attention.
Difficulty recalling information
learned.
Struggle with processing
information.
Deficits in attention
Language difficulties

Some children may also have


learning difficulties not explained
by having an intellectual disability
(i.e., below grade level).
High level of absenteeism.
Trouble focusing and staying on
task.

Social Characteristics

Display maladaptive behavior


patterns and conduct
problems in the classroom.
Withdrawn-overly dependent
behavior.
Display hostility and
distractibility.
Introverted
Emotional issues
Can display challenging
behaviors in the classroom in
response to feeling illequipped to handle the task
at hand.

Hyperactivity
Self-harm
Tantrums
Inappropriate emotions for a
given situation (i.e.,
inappropriate crying or
screaming).
Struggle with chronic
unhappiness and depression.
Mood swings.
May have multiple cooccurring disorders (e.g.,
depression, anxiety, OCD
etc).
Classroom disruptions (e.g.,
getting out of seat, talking,
being argumentative etc).

Strengths

Poor social skills.


May not have as many
friends.
Poor self-esteem and selfconcept.
Trouble communicating.

Good work ethic,


works hard to
achieve something.

Aggressive behaviors towards


others.
Can be withdrawn depending
on the diagnosis.
Struggle with forming
interpersonal relationships
with others.
Struggle with verbal and nonverbal communication.
Cursing or name calling
Trouble with understanding
social cues.
Struggle to play fair with
others (e.g., turn taking).
May have legal issues
because of theft or injury.

Can identify the


emotions they are
feeling.
Individual can
communicate which
emotion they are
feeling with
someone.

Academic Characteristics

Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder

Mild Intellectual Disabilities

Poor school performance due to


inability to pay attention and
control their behaviors.
May need assistance in school in
order to get assignments
completed.
Visual schedules may assist child in
organization and on task behaviors
in class.
Have trouble staying in their seats
during class.
Poor visuospatial tasks that effect
planning and organization.
Struggle to organize their thought
which makes it hard for them to
recall information.

Behavioral Characteristics

Lower academic performance.


Need extra assistance and
accommodations in order to be
successful in school.
May need to be placed in a
resource room for part or all of the
day.
Trouble with working memory
(e.g., figuring out math problems).
Delays in language, which will
interfere with reading and writing.
Need repetition to assist in
learning.
Trouble remembering directions

Social Characteristics

Trouble paying attention.


Hyperactivity.
Impulsivity.
Struggles to pay attention,
does not follow instructions,
trouble organizing, and a
tendency to lose things and is
easily distracted (Inattentive
type).
Struggles to stay seated in the
classroom. Tendency to talk
excessively, cannot wait their
turn and struggle to play
quietly (Hyperactive-impulsive
type).
Prone to outbursts and
tantrums.
Low self-esteem

Can be disruptive in class.


May display inappropriate
behaviors (tantrums).
May become aggressive,
physically or verbally.
Trouble controlling behaviors

Strengths

Tendency to interrupt
others during a
conversation (Hyperactiveimpulsive type).
Can be isolated and lonely.
Deficits in social skills and
communication.
Trouble forming
interpersonal relationships.
Trouble maintaining
appropriate personal space
with others.

Increased energy.
Has the ability to focus
on one thing and can
usually excel in that one
thing.

Low self-esteem
Poor self-concept
Isolated and lonely at times
Rejected from peers.
May struggle with some
social situations.
Socially awkward
Can be extra friendly
Lacks social skills to get the
attention of the teacher
Dependent on others for
help

With proper guidance,


they can understand
that they have a
disability and are
therefore more
receptive to assistance.

Academic Characteristics

Other Health Impaired


(other than ADHD)

Orthopedic Impairment
(muscular / skeletal)

Behavioral Characteristics

Absent from school due to


hospitalizations and or illness.
Decreased academic performance
due to missing school.
Trouble concentrating due to side
effects of medications.
Poor organizational skills.
May need to be in a resource
room if they encounter perception
problems.
May require a reduced work load
in class.
Could have a learning disability.
Normal or higher IQ

High absenteeism due to frequent


doctors appointments,
hospitalization.
Lower grades because of
absenses.
Due to problems with motor skills,
individual may struggle with
writing.
Pain may cause them to not be
able to focus in class.
Medications may make them
drowsy in class.
Physically weak
Visible physical attributes (e.g.,
walk differently, hands may be
curled, etc)
Quiet in class

Depression
Anxiety
Trouble with fine and gross
motor skills.
Get tired easily
Chronic pain
Isolation

Social/Mobility
Characteristics

Depression
Fall down often.
Irritable.
Feel helpless
Withdrawn

Strengths

Social isolation
Coordination difficulties
Muscle weakness
Lack of physical endurance
to move around.
May be ashamed of their
disability and not want to
make friends.
Difficulty communicating
with others

Adaptive, learn to
live with their
disability.

Limited mobility.
Need to use wheelchairs,
cane, or orthotics for
mobility.
Social isolation.
Spasticity in muscles.
Uncoordinated.
Limited to complete
mobility, depending on
severity.
Trouble with motor skills
Dependent on others for
help

Adaptive, they learn


to live with their
disability.

Academic Characteristics

Hearing Impairment
(Deaf/Hard of Hearing)

Visual Impairment
Blind / Visually Impaired

Behavioral Characteristics

Deficits in language and


communication skills.
Struggle to learn vocabulary,
grammer, word order and other
forms of verbal communication.
May need an interpreter if the
individual uses sign language.
If student can lip read then they
may need to be placed in the front
of the class.
May need captioning.
May require the assitance of
another student to take notes for
them.
Struggle with literacy
Speech problems
Feel lost in school

Use Sensory Learning (i.e, touching


objects, using other senses).
Individual needs to be taught how
to move around their enviornment
(O&M).
May require the use of assited
devices.
Learn to use Braille in order to
read books.

Often needs things to be


repeated.
May turn up the volume on
the TV in order to help hear.
Does not respond when
someone calls their name.
Withdrawn

Social/Mobility
Characteristics

Shy away from tasks that


require vision.
Holding object close to face.
Clumsiness.
Eye movements (i.e., squinting
and blinking).
Individual may rub eyes.

Strengths

Use ASL to communicate


with others.
Problems with balance and
coordination.
May struggle forming
relationships because of
barriers to communication.
Friends may consist of
others who are part of the
Deaf Culture.
Trouble understanding
social cues.
Social isolation

Remaining senses are


heightened.

May use a cane.


May use a service animal.
Social isolation.
Balance and coordination
problems.
Difficulty getting around on
their own
May miss instructions given
with gestures
Cannot read peoples faces

Can use other senses


to get information
about the world.

Academic Characteristics

High-functioning Autism

Primarily visual learners.


Difficulty transitioning from one
activity to the next.
Difficulty with reading
comprehention.
Excellent rote memory in some
areas.
Short attention span.
Require a structured.
IQ is average or higher
Trouble with speech
Rote memory
Need structure and predicitibility
in the classroom

Behavioral Characteristics

Focus on certain areas of


interest.
Lacks eye contact.
Trouble following directions.
Can display poor hygiene.
Gross motor skills deficits.
Ritualistic/compulsive
behaviors.
Difficulty waiting in line.
Tantrums
Aggression
Destruction of property
Sensitive to stimuli in the
environment

Social Characteristics

Struggle to relate to others.


Does not want to share
interests with others.
Lacks reciprocity.
Difficulty reading facial
expressions and body
language.
Cannot understand jokes.
May make comments not
related to conversation.
Prefers to isolate.
Cannot understand others
emotions.
May not like to be touched
or hugged.

Strengths

Can focus on one


thing and master it.