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K-12 CAMS for Students with MR/DD

Individuals with mental retardation or developmental disabilities (MR/DD) may experience any of the limitations discussed below.  The degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Not all students with MR/DD will need the same CAMS (compensations accommodations, modifications, strategies) to perform in school and many others may only need a few CAMS. Regardless, each student’s case should be evaluated on an individual basis with an Independent Needs Assessment Protocol done by an Educational Strategist & Consultant or a Special Educational Needs Consultant (SEN).  The following is a sample of possible CAMS for students with MR/DD.  Other CAMS solutions may exist so check with an Educational Strategist & Consultant or Special Educational Needs Consultant (SEN) for more information.          



1. What limitations the student with MR/DD is experiencing?

2. How these limitations affect the student and the student's school performance?

3. What specific activities or tasks are problematic as a result of these limitations?

4. What CAMS are available to reduce or eliminate these problems?

5. Are all possible resources being used to determine possible CAMS?

6. Has the student with MR/DD been consulted regarding possible CAMS?  Does the student know how s/he learns best?

7. Once CAMS are in place, would it be useful to talk with the student and/or team to evaluate the effectiveness of the CAMS and to determine whether additional or different CAMS are needed?

8. Do parents and school staff need training regarding MR/DD?

9.  Schedule time to meet with the Educational Strategist & Consultant or Special Educational Needs Consultant (SEN) to determine how to communicate needed CAMS with the school team and how to document.




Cognitive Limitations:



        Provide pictures, symbols, or diagrams instead of words

        Read written information to student or provide information on audio player

        Use voice output on computer

        Use Reading Pen on single words or phrases

        Use line guide to identify or       hi-light one line of text at a time



        Provide templates or forms to prompt information requested

        Allow verbal response instead of written response

        Allow typed response instead of written response

        Use voice input and spell-check on computer

        Use a scribe to write the student's response

        Provide ample space for providing written response

        Use voice activated recorder to record verbal instructions



        Allow use of large-display or talking calculator and use counter or ticker

        Make pre-counted or pre-measured poster or device

        Provide talking tape measure and liquid level indicators

        Mark the measuring cup with a "fill to here" line




        Minimize clutter and color-code items or resources

        Provide A-B-C and 1-2-3 charts

        Divide large tasks into multiple smaller tasks

        Use symbols instead of words and use print labels instead of hand-written labels


Time Management: 


        Provide verbal prompts or reminder

        Provide written or symbolic reminders

        Use alarm watch or beeper



        Use specific aids or devices to assist in understanding and increase productivity

        Arrange materials in order of use

        Use task list with numbers or symbols

        Avoid isolated work space

        Provide for an on-site coach

        Provide additional teaching or reteaching as needed


Gross and Fine Motor Limitations:  


Computer Use

        Use key guard

        Use alternative input devices such as speech recognition, trackball, and joystick


Telephone Use

        Use large-button phone

        Use phone with universal symbols (fire, police, doctor)

        Use phone with speed-dial, clearly labeled

        Use receiver holder

        Use headset


Workstation Use

        Place anti-fatigue mats at work space or desk

        Use motorized scooter

        Use stools at work space

        Move items within reach

        Provide frequent rest breaks


Tool Use

        Use ergonomic tools, handle build-ups, or other tool adaptations

        Use orthopedic writing aids

        Use grip aids

        Use special aid or device



Social Interaction:


        Implement a structure of positive feedback

        Use visual performance charts

        Provide tangible rewards

        Use a coach or mentor and provide sensitivity training (disability awareness) to all staff and peers

        Implement a Student Assistance Program (SAP)

        Provide a coach and use videos to demonstrate appropriate behavior at school and with peers

        Model appropriate social skills such as where to eat, when to hug, how to get lunch, and how to ask for help



Situations and Solutions: 


The student cannot remember to put away her school supplies after completing an assignment. She also forgets to turn in the completed assignment. The SENC suggested posting a reminder at the student’s work space and at the door, one with words and pictures that asks, "Did you put away your school supplies? Did you turn in your completed assignment?"



The student will sometimes get lost or becomes disoriented when going from class to class. The SENC recommended providing the student with a color-coded map of the building, identifying each classroom, restroom, and offices. The student could also use a walkie-talkie to communicate with a staff person in the event she was lost in the building.

2006 Claudia Lowe, SENC  ......  adapted from www.jan.wvu.edu