What you need to know
It is important to have HIGH LEARNING EXPECTATIONS for children who have Galactosemia. Encourage use of the core educational curriculum and modify it in order to meet the individual needs of the child.
It is important to have high expectations for all children with galactosemia. Work collaboratively on reinforcing successful strategies in the classroom as well as at home.
In the classroom, some or all of the following challenges may be observed.
- Difficulty communicating:
- May ramble incoherently and erratically, but child may assume he/she is being understood (speech apraxia).
- Difficulty comprehending:
- May stare blankly
- Abstract concepts and opposites may not be understood.
- Poor motor planning/processing
- Poor sensory-motor integration
- Struggles holding a pen and with writing
- Becomes easily frustrated
- Difficulty remembering
- Lack of energy
- Desire to please and participate
- Motivated by praise
Parents may not want their child to be treated differently in school. School staff should try and be sensitive to this issue and convey a sense of normalcy. Parents may also experience their child’s frustration and may feel frustrated themselves. In order to keep strategies at home and school consistent, parents can relay to school staff what they have observed at home and what strategies they use.
What you can do
- Maintain a strict dairy-free and galactose-free diet
- Maintain a similar classroom structure/schedule
- Pace – break topics down slowly
- Pitch – change the tone of your voice when describing opposite concepts
- Pictures – use a visual aid, pictures, or sign language when possible. Provide a word bank if applicable
- Praise – provide positive feedback
- Patience – maintain patience. Present material in a slow sequential framework
- Packets – provide note packets for the week and distribute them prior to lessons
- Peers/Partners – place students next to peers or assign partners so they can emulate their behavior. One-on-one instruction if necessary.
- Prioritize – provide subject folders for assignments and an outline of expectations/goals
- Prompt – use preparatory teaching : tell the students when their turn is coming up
There are technological innovations that can be used in the classroom to help children with galactosemia progress along with other general education students.
- One example is the Kurzweil Educational System, Inc.:
- A computer system created for those with learning delays that adapts lesson plans based on the student’s needs
- Documents can be scanned into the program and modified for the particular delay or difficulty. Students have the ability to hear what they write via headphones and can work on the same assignment as general education students simultaneously.
(Source: Understanding Galactosemia: Resources for Educators)