Cognitive Impairment

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K-12 CAMS for Students with Cognitive Impairment

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Individuals with cognitive impairment may experience any of the limitations discussed below.  The degree of limitation will vary among individuals. Not all students with cognitive impairment will need 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 cognitive impairment.  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 cognitive impairment 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 cognitive impairment 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 cognitive impairment?

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.




Maintaining Concentration:


        Reduce distractions in the work space area

        Provide space enclosures or a quiet place to work

        Allow for use of white noise or environmental sound machines

        Allow the student to play soothing music using an audio player and headset



        Increase natural lighting or provide full spectrum lighting

        Assist the student with reducing clutter in the student’s work environment

        Plan for uninterrupted work time

        Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and steps

        Restructure tasks and activities to include only essential functions for teaching and mastery


Staying Organized and Meeting Deadlines:


        Make daily to-do lists and check items off as they are completed

        Use several calendars to mark activities, tasks, and deadlines

        Remind student of important deadlines via memos, e-mail, fax, or daily or weekly supervision

        Use a watch or pager with timer capability and electronic organizers

        Divide large assignments into smaller tasks and steps

        Assign a mentor or coach to assist the student with determining goals and provide daily guidance

        Schedule weekly meetings with teacher, coach, or mentor to determine if goals are being met


Handling Memory Deficits:


        Allow the student to record lectures

        Provide type written notes of each lecture or class discussion 2-3 days in advance

        Use notebooks, calendars, or sticky notes to record information for easy retrieval

        Provide written as well as verbal instructions

        Allow additional teaching and learning time

        Provide written checklists

        Provide environmental cues to assist in memory for location of items and supplies and for school and classroom expectations

        Post instructions over all frequently used areas


Handling Problem Solving Deficits:


        Provide picture diagrams of problem solving techniques, i.e. flow charts

        Restructure the task or activity to include only essential functions for mastery

        Assign a teacher, coach, or mentor to be available when the student has questions


Working Effectively with Staff:


        Provide positive praise and reinforcement

        Provide written instructions for tasks and activities

        Write clear expectations of responsibilities and the results of not meeting them

        Allow for open communication to staff and peers

        Establish written long term and short term goals

        Develop strategies to deal with problems before they arise

        Provide written agreements based on understanding and comprehension of expectations

        Develop a procedure to evaluate the effectiveness of the CAMS


Handling Stress and Emotions:


        Provide praise and positive reinforcement

        Refer to counseling and student assistance programs

        Allow telephone calls during work hours to doctors and others for needed support

        Provide sensitivity training to peers and staff

        Allow the student to take a break to  use stress management techniques to deal with frustration


Handling Change:


        Recognize that a change in the school environment or of staff may be difficult

        Maintain open channels of communication between the student and the new and old staff in order to ensure an effective transition

        Provide daily, weekly, or monthly meetings with the student to discuss school issues and productions levels


Maintaining Stamina during the Workday:


        Flexible scheduling

        Allow longer or more frequent breaks

        Provide additional time to learn new responsibilities

        Provide self-paced class work load

        Provide support for when the student needs to take breaks

        Allow time off for counseling

        Allow for use of supportive mentors and coaches

        Allow student to work from home during part of the day

        Provide for group learning opportunities

        Part-time school schedules

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