How to Work in the Classroom with Students with Special Needs

Welcome to our online course.  Our purpose is to provide some ideas, based on what we have found out over a number of years, to help with teaching students with special needs. The course is designed in a linear fashion and we have found concepts covered within this package to be most beneficial to the user if they move through the package sequentially. You will find little tasks along the way which, if you do them, will help you to have an understanding of the concepts within.

We are classroom teachers who have worked in an education support centre for many years with all sorts of students and who have implemented the practices contained within this package to help our ever-changing, unique and individualised students. We have found that the ideas and theory we outline in the following sections is really important to know about if you want to have more fun and less stress with your special needs students.  You might be surprised how well some things work and how they can change your situation.

Each area within this package has been scaffolded, giving you a basis of information first then moving into specific content. There are a lot of areas which are inter-related and overlap. We hope you find it useful.  You will need a printer attached to print out some resources.

Kaylene Allen and Julie Spargo (Teachers, MHESC)

Funded by a Grant from More Support for Students with Disabilities National Partnerships (MSSD)

Julie and Kaylene spent a considerable time constructing this short course.  It has been tried out on various primary school teachers in our area with success.  I hope it can be useful for you.

Alison Harman (Principal, MHESC)

The Sections to be covered are as follows and we do think they should be looked at in the following order. Click on each green title below to go to that section.

What is Behaviour and What is its Function?

This section contains the following components:

What is behaviour for

Working out the function of a behaviour:

High and low arousal states

Ziggurat Model

Emotional Regulation

This section contains the following components:

What is emotional regulation?

Meltdowns and tantrums

meltdowns vs tantrum activity

Emotional memory

Factors influencing emotional regulation

what does a meltdown (emotional dysregulation) or tantrum look like?

Understanding the behaviour you see

How to obtain emotional regulation

using an emotional regulation plan

overview and explanation of an emotional regulation plan

a completed emotional regulation plan that has a list of examples of strategies you may find useful

a blank emotional regulation plan that can be printed out and used as a working document to assist you with your individual students

Rewards and Reinforcement

This section contains the following components:

What is reinforcement and how is it different to reward?

Different types of reinforcement

Different types of reinforcement schedule

Visual Supports

This section contains the following components:

What are visual supports?


what for

how do we use them


This section contains the following components:

What is prompting for?

Types of prompt strategies

Sensory Issues

This section contains the following components:

What are sensory issues?

Hyper- or hypo- sensitivity

Sensory defensiveness

Effects of sensory overload

Problems integrating multiple senses

What are the sensory systems we are talking about and what to do about them

Arousal levels and what to do about them

Task Analysis

This section contains the following components:

What is task analysis

Creating a task analysis document

Individual educational plans

SMART objectives

An Australian Curriculum for all students

Inclusion is a Legal Requirement



Useful links

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