Multiple Disabilities


  • Due to their multiple disabilities, students often have extraordinary needs and are considered a distinct group in IDEA.
  • The needs of these students are similar to those with moderate and severe intellectual disabilities the difference being the degree and complexity of the disabilities.
  • A big issue with these students is that the number of special service providers that come to the classroom to work with the students with multiple needs can cause somewhat of a distraction. Examples of special service providers that they might need are a special educator, paraprofessional, speech/language therapist, or an occupational therapist.
  • A specific example of a student with multiple disabilities is deaf-blindness. A student with deaf-blindness can be educated in a school in different ways. This student may spend most of the day in a separate classroom and part of the day in general education classes. Regardless, a student with multiple disabilities will need extensive supports.


  • Making sure that a wheelchair, computer equipment, other therapeutic equipment, and specialized materials for a student with multiple disabilities are seamlessly integrated into classroom practices without much attention being diverted towards them.
  • A way to communicate with students who struggle with this is by using AAC systems or augmentative and alternative communication. This can help students to convey their messages.
  • If having a student with multiple disabilities, it would be important to meet with the special educator to learn about expectations for this student and what my role should be in the student's education.
  • It is important to communicate regularly with the student's parents. It's also important to give some positive feedback to the parents rather than continually informing them about all of the challenges their child faces.
Understanding Multiple Disabilities