Empowering Students With Disabilities

Empowering Students With Disabilities

Discover the tools you need to help any student who comes through your door. This course provides tips for fostering the reading, writing, and math skills of students with special needs and techniques for helping these learners behave appropriately and make friends in your classroom.

6 Weeks Access / 24 Course Hrs
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Teaching students with disabilities is a rewarding challenge, and this course gives you the tools you will need to succeed. No matter what grade you teach—from preschool through high school—you will learn powerful strategies you can put to work immediately in your classroom. In addition, you will gain the knowledge you need to understand and cope with the most common disabilities you will encounter.

You will start by putting yourself in the shoes of students with special needs as you explore a wide variety of disabilities ranging from autism spectrum disorder to cerebral palsy. Simulations and real-life stories will give you a firsthand look at what it's like to be a learner with special needs, and you will see how common disabilities affect classroom behavior and learning.

Then comes the best part: solutions! In each lesson, you will find dozens of tips for fostering the reading, writing, and math skills of students with special needs. In addition, you will master techniques for helping these learners behave appropriately and make friends in your classroom. You will also get the inside story on Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and transition plans, and you will learn the most effective ways to collaborate with parents and professionals.

By the end of this course, you will feel confident in your ability to help any student who comes through your door. You will also discover that while the challenges can be big when you're teaching students with disabilities, the victories are big as well.


Danny has a seeing-eye dog. Carmela needs extra help with math. Yoshi has autism. And they're all in your class this year! This first lesson will look at the growing numbers of children with special needs and talk about how you can welcome them to your classroom and set the stage for successful learning.

How do children get placed in special education? As you will discover, it's not a snap decision. This lesson will trace a student's path through every stage of the placement process and look at the role a teacher plays from start to finish.

It takes a whole team to help a child with special needs succeed. This lesson will address the roles of the support team, with a focus on collaboration between special education teachers and support staff. You will explore the roles of paraprofessionals, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers, and the specialists who support you.

This lesson addresses reading, writing, and math disabilities—the most common learning disabilities (LDs) you will see in the classroom. First, you will get a chance to see how it feels to have an LD. Then, you will learn about how memory problems affect students with LDs in the classroom.

Imagine how frustrating it would be if you couldn't speak clearly, understand other people, or express your thoughts and feelings well. This is what life is like for children with speech or language disorders, the subject of this lesson.

This lesson addresses conditions categorized as "Other Health Impaired" (OHI), with a special focus on ADHD. First, you will learn what daily life is like for children with ADHD. Then, you will explore ways to address the attention and organizational problems that these children struggle with.

Students can shine in many ways, and this lesson will examine how students with intellectual disabilities can be stars in your classroom. You will learn what life is like for students with intellectual disabilities and discover ways to help these students focus on both academic and adaptive skills.

Children with behavior disorders often present the biggest challenge to teachers. This lesson will examine the roots of behavioral problems. You will also learn three essential tools for handling behavior problems: behavior contracts, functional behavioral assessments, and behavior intervention plans.

Children with autism will give your teaching skills a workout with their unique combination of strengths and impairments. This lesson explores three areas in which these children need help: communication skills, social skills, and the ability to handle transitions.

This lesson will introduce you to children with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, hearing or vision impairments, developmental delays, and a host of other challenges. Then, you will take a closer look at the assistive technology—both high-tech and low-tech—that can help kids with these disabilities triumph academically.

This lesson addresses "best practices" for teaching children with special needs. And here's good news: Many of these ideas will work for your entire class! First, you will explore how to balance students' IEP requirements with your curriculum standards and investigate a great technique for helping students grasp difficult material: directed instruction.

While transitions can be scary for anybody, they're especially intimidating for students with disabilities. In this lesson you will look at ways to smooth three big transitions that students make: the moves from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school, and from high school to real life.



There are no prerequisites to take this course.


Hardware Requirements:

  • This course can be taken on either a PC, Mac, or Chromebook.

Software Requirements:

  • PC: Windows 8 or later.
  • Mac: macOS 10.6 or later.
  • Browser: The latest version of Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox are preferred. Microsoft Edge and Safari are also compatible.
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader.
  • Software must be installed and fully operational before the course begins.


  • Email capabilities and access to a personal email account.

Instructional Material Requirements:

The instructional materials required for this course are included in enrollment and will be available online.


Sara Hardin

Sara Hardin is an educator with a focus on special education and language studies. She has taught special education at the elementary level for over a decade. Sara holds a BA in French, and lived in France to study at the university level. In 2000, she earned her master's degree in special education.


I really enjoyed this class. I've taken another course under this same instructor, and this is the main reason why I took this class. She is an outstanding teacher. She explains material well, gives lots of examples, and her homework assignments and quizzes are relevant to the material covered as well as the real world. Thank you!

I really enjoyed this class mainly because it reminded me of my previous classes. I have been a SPED Teacher with an Endorsement of Students with Severe Behavior Problems for over 20 years. It gave me a lot of new material and teaching strategies for future classes.

Loved the course! It was very helpful to have some activities that made me understand how students with certain disabilities would feel/complete school work, etc. I was able to apply what I was learning the next day in my classroom. Thank you so much!

I have been a special education teacher for 14 years and found this brief and well-organized course extremely useful. Sara Hardin does a great job of explaining and defining topics. Her strategies were well-presented, and I picked up many useful and practical ideas. I would take just about any course she taught. I am very impressed by her skills.

I recently completed the four years of education required to receive my teaching certification, but I felt there was something missing from my university experience. Although I completed two courses regarding special needs education, I still didn't feel confident about creating my own inclusive classroom. I learned more in this course than I did in my expensive university classes. So thank you very much. I appreciate the work of this instructor and the ideas behind this course. Bravo!

I highly recommend this course to anyone who works directly with students with disabilities. The instructor has a passion for working with special needs children as well as extensive experience and knowledge. The lessons were not only highly informative, but insightful...It gave me a better understanding of the kinds of challenges students with disabilities may face in the classroom as well as numerous strategies to enhance their learning...This course was definitely well worth my time and I am eager to apply more of what I learned to benefit my students with disabilities.

This is the 2nd class I've taken from Sara Hardin. She is just amazing and her classes are so insightful. I always walk away with so much I can take into the classroom. Her lessons are well thought out and reasonable in length. She is always one of the first teachers I search for!

I really enjoyed the course! I could somehow tell when I signed up that this is a very inspiring and caring teacher. I was not disappointed! I have taken a pause from teaching special ed but I am now inspired to resume it in some fashion or another. The course made me miss my teaching experience and also gave me new ideas. Thank you, Ms. Hardin.

This course was absolutely inspiring! Sara Hardin is knowledgeable about the subject matter to empower students with disabilities. She incorporated a lot of her experiences not only from her role as a teacher but also from her role as a mother. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and learned a lot to help my students succeed. Thanks, Sara!

I loved this course! I am familiar with the terms, criteria, and processes, but was looking for practical application ideas and suggestions. I found them with this course. It felt like this course was written just for me and the students I currently have. I have been able to apply what I have learned right away. Thank you so much!

Self-Guided Course Code: T9276
Instructor-Moderated Course Code: tsd