Pilar Gonzalez #7

Disability-Specific Characteristic Matrix
Directions: Use a variety of resources to find and create lists of the common characteristics of students with each of these six disabilities.


Specific Learning Disabilities













Academic
Characteristics
Affects skills in reading,
writing, listening,
speaking, reasoning, and
math
Difficulty learning simple
things like the alphabet
Trouble transforming
thoughts into written
words
Misreading math problems
Difficulty reading out loud
Poor reading
comprehension
Struggling to write papers
and essays
Trouble understanding
lectures
Difficulty holding a pencil
Poor memory
difficulty sounding out
words,
reverses letters,
places letters in incorrect
sequence,
difficulty understanding
words or concepts, and/or
delayed speech
development; immature
speech.
Verbal abilities













Social and/or Behavioral
Characteristics
Social skills deficits
performs differently from day to
day,
responds inappropriately in many
instances,
says one thing, means another,
doesn’t adjust well to change,
difficulty telling time and
knowing right from left,
May struggle to accurately
interpret non-verbal cues (e.g.
gestures, facial expressions)
May have low social status, few
positive interactions at school,
difficulty making friends, and
seem lonely
May not display appropriate
verbal and non-verbal cues in
conversations
Might misunderstand jokes,
puns, idioms, sarcasm, etc.
May not follow the social rules
of conversation, such as taking
turns
May stand too close to a listener
ADHD





Physical
Characteristics
Poor motor abilities
distractible, restless, impulsive,
General coordination poor;
awkwardness evident in
skipping, climbing, running,
walking, jumping, hopping, etc.
May fall or stumble frequently
or maintain equilibrium by
touching tables, chairs or desks
when moving about the room
May exhibit difficulty with fine
motor coordination tasks
May have difficulty
differentiating between right
and left;
may exhibit directional
confusion, mirror-writing,
reversals, inversions
or rotations of letters and/or
numerals
disorganized

Possible Strengths











perseverance
empathy
courage
assertiveness
Self awareness to connect
to the real world
Creative
Purposeful with their
action
Determined
Sensitive to auditory
Sports and physical
activates
Coping skills
NORMAL
INTELLEGENCE.

Pilar Gonzalez #7
Academic Characteristics

Emotional/Behavioral Disorders






An inability to learn that
cannot be explained by
intellectual, sensory, or
health factors.
An inability to build or
maintain satisfactory
interpersonal relationships
with peers and teachers.
Unwillingness to cooperate
Lowest gpa
Low dropout rate
Writing skills
Can be impulsive
Addicted behaviors


















Social and or Behavioral
Characteristics
Misread social cues 
Misinterpret the feelings of
others 
Not know when they are
bothering others 
Be unaware of the effect of their
behavior on someone else 
Be unable to take the perspective
of others or put themselves in
someone else’s shoes 
Acceptance by peers 
Difficulty making friends 
Being seen by peers as overly
dependent 
Being less likely to become
leaders 
Resolving conflict 
Managing frustrations 
Initiating or joining a
conversation or play activities 
Listening 
Demonstrating empathy 
Maintaining a friendship 
Working in groups 
Fighting or acting out 
ADHD

Physical Characteristics





Body manifesting signs of
sickness like fever, rash,
headache
Being absent
Substance abuse problems
symptoms like burnt fingertips,
shaking, or bloodshot eyes
Common/frequent crying
Poor coping skills
Can seem unhappy or depressed

Possible Strengths









Empathy
Thrive on routines
Thrives on consistency
Good listeners
Eager (bipolar)
Productive (bipolar)
Think of everything that
might and can happen
(anxiety)
Organized (ocd)
Artistic
NORMAL
INTELLEGENCE

Pilar Gonzalez #7








Academic
Characteristics
Can’t focus
Disruptive
Short attention span
Frequent errors on work
Forgets assignments
Procrastinating
Impulsive
Troubled taking turns
creativity








Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder
(ADHD)








Social and/or Behavioral
Characteristics
Get out of their chairs when
they’re not supposed to 
Run around or climb constantly 
Have trouble playing quietly 
Talk too much 
Blurt out answers before
questions have been completed 
Have trouble waiting their turn 
Interrupt others when they’re
talking 
Butt in on the games others are
playing 
Do not pay close attention to
details 
Can’t stay focused on play or
school work 
Don’t follow through on
instructions or finish school work
or chores 
Can’t seem to organize tasks and
activities 
Get distracted easily 
Lose things such as toys, school
work, and books 
Addictive behavior
Day dreams 






Physical
Characteristics
Fidget and squirm
Unable to sit still
Social tension
Hard time keeping and making
friends
Moves a lot
Lack of personal space

Strengths




















Acceptance by peers 
Difficulty making friends 
Being seen by peers as
overly dependent 
Being less likely to become
leaders 
Resolving conflict 
Managing frustrations 
Initiating or joining a
conversation or play
activities 
Listening 
Demonstrating empathy 
Maintaining a friendship 
Working in groups 
Willing to work with others
and try new things 
Outgoing 
Detailed orientated 
High energy 
Social butterfly 
Brave
Verbal
Good self esteem
Creative 
Innovative 
NORMAL
INTELLEGENCE

Pilar Gonzalez #7
Academic Characteristics


Speech / Language

Communication Disorder


improper use of words and
their meanings,
inability to express ideas,
inappropriate grammatical
patterns,
reduced vocabulary, and
inability to follow
directions
difficult talking













Social and or Behavioral
Characteristics
Hesitates or refuses to participate
in activities where speaking is
required
Is inattentive and has difficulty
with concentration
May not initiate or maintain eye
contact
May become easily frustrated
Has difficulty following
directions
Must be "shown" what to do
Has trouble understanding
information from what is seen,
heard or felt
May be embarrassed by speech,
regardless of age
Acts impulsively, and may
respond before instructions are
given out
May isolate themselves from
social situations
Talented in art
Withdrawn
introverts

Physical Characteristics




May be conditions in the
student's medical/developmental
history, such as cleft lip and/or
palate, cerebral palsy, muscular
dystrophy, brain injury or
disorder, aphasia, hearing loss,
ear surgery, facial abnormalities,
or congenital (present at birth)
disorders
Has frequent allergy problems
or colds
Has oral muscular coordination
slower than normal
Displays clumsiness or seems to
be uncoordinated
Can have a stutter

Strengths




Perseverance
Motivated
Patient
Unique way to express
themselves
NORMAL
INTELLEGENCE

Pilar Gonzalez #7

Autism

High-functioning

Academic
Characteristics
• Visual learners
• Modeling
• Hands on learners
• Can’t find
symbolism
• Fine motor skills
• Hard time
transitioning
(academically)























Social and/or Behavioral
Characteristics
Very little or no eye contact.
Resistance to being held or touched.
Tends to get too close when speaking to someone (lack of
personal space).
Responds to social interactions, but does not initiate them.
Does not generally share observations or experiences with
others.
Difficulty understanding jokes, figures of speech or sarcasm.
Difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation.
Difficulty understanding group interactions.
Aversion to answering questions about themselves.
Gives spontaneous comments which seem to have no
connection to the current conversation.
Makes honest, but inappropriate observations.
Seems unable to understand another’s feelings.
Can be alone, aloof or overly-friendly.
Difficulty maintaining friendships.
Finds it easier to socialize with people that are older or
younger, rather than peers of their own age.
Unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.
Talks excessively about one or two topics (dinosaurs, movies,
etc.).
Overly trusting or unable to read the motives behinds peoples’
actions.
Minimal acknowledgement of others.
Sensitive to sounds
Struggles to make friends
Easily frustrated











Physical
Characteristics
Myoclonal jerks,
sudden muscle
movements
Choreiform, jerky
and involuntary
movements
Poor eye-hand
coordination
Limb apraxia,
when it is difficult
to make certain
movements with an
arm or leg
Problems with
intentional
movements
Abnormal gait and
posture
Toe walking
Clumsiness
Difficulty with
sitting, lying,
crawling and/or
walking
Difficulty chewing
and/or swallowing
Unusual sweating
Abnormal reaction
to sensory stimuli
Rashes, dermatitis,
eczema and/or
itching

Strengths












Rote memory or
learning by heart
Remembering
information for long
periods of time
Visual learning and
thinking style
Ability to use visual
information
meaningfully
Ability to learn in
detail and in
“chunks”
Ability to concentrate
on narrow topics of
interest
Understanding rules
and using concrete
information
Kindness
Retains information
Honest
Asks questions
Non judgmental
NORMAL
INTELLEGENCE

Pilar Gonzalez #7
Academic
characteristics



(skeletal & muscular)

Other Health Impairments &
Orthopedic Impairments



Non-accessible
transportation
Trouble
maneuvering
around the
classroom
Difficulty
navigating school
hallways
Earning mandated
physical education
credit
Communicating
effectively
Accom. To access
classroom
Slow reading rate
Fatigued
Limited alertness

Social and or behavioral characteristics












Does not pay attention to detail and often makes
mistakes across a number of activities
Has difficulty maintaining attention during activities
Does not complete schoolwork or other assigned
activities
Has difficulty with organization of activities
Avoids activities that require mental effort or
concentration
Loses materials necessary to complete assignments
Easily distracted
Forgetful in many activities
Potential for being bullied
Poor self-advocates
Unable to relate to others
Learned helplessness

Physical Characteristics





Spastic (very tight
muscles occurring
in one or more
muscle groups that
result in stiff,
uncoordinated
movements)
Athetoid
(movements are
contorted,
abnormal, and
purposeless)
Ataxic (poor
balance and
equilibrium in
addition to
uncoordinated
voluntary
movement)
Mixed (any
combination of the
types)
May have handicap
equipment needed
Devices
Limited strength
Poor coordination

Strengths







Good communication
skills
Adaptability
Coping skills
Great perspective
Positive
wants to learn
NORMAL
INTELLEGENCE

Pilar Gonzalez #7
Academic
Characteristics

Mild Intellectual Disability














Low achievement in most or all
academic areas (e.g. reading
comprehension, mathematics, written
expression)
Short attention span and easily
distractible
Delays in speech development
May not be confident in school and is
easily frustrated
Difficulties with learning concepts
Academic difficulties last across the
school years
May seem to learn more slowly than do
other students
Difficulty with working memory tasks
(e.g. math facts or spelling words)
May seem to remember information one
day, and forget it the next
Difficulty using academic strategies (e.g.
note taking, memorizing definitions)
Difficulty with generalization of
information to other material
Difficulty generalizing material learned
in one setting to another (e.g., from
school to the community)
Difficulties with more advanced
academic skills related to content (e.g.
math word problems, identifying themes
and symbols in literature)
Delays in language may affect reading
May have difficulty comprehending and
summarizing what has been read
Weak vocabulary (knowledge of words)
May operate at a concrete rather than
abstract level of thinking

Social and/or Behavioral
Characteristics














Difficulty bathing, dressing,
grooming, and / or feeding one’s
self
Language may be slow to develop
Speech may be delayed, or there
may be no speech at all
Difficulty understanding and
using language (verbal and
nonverbal)
Social skills may be poor
(relationships with family and
friends)
May misinterpret the intentions of
others
May not understand how to pay
for things
May lack understanding of
personal safety or community
navigation issues
Has trouble linking actions to
consequences
May be clumsy
May use simple language with
short sentences
May need reminders about
hygiene - washing hands,
brushing teeth, etc.
Exhibits problem behaviors and
some immaturity
Displays some obsessive /
compulsive behaviors
Difficulty following rules and
routines

Physical
Characteristics


Difficulties
functioning on a
daily basis
Not being able to
live on their own
Severe cases:
seizures; vision
problems; hearing
problems

Strengths


Great relationship
building
Empathy