Blog Tutors Tutoring Tips 6 Ways to Communicate to Your Students with Special Needs

6 Ways to Communicate to Your Students with Special Needs

Every child is unique.

Especially for children with special needs who need extra help to showcase their full potential.

Some of these children need more help than others because they are experiencing more than one disability. This is one reason why some tutors may find it hard to accept taking on students with special needs.

But there are actually ways to communicate with them better and make it easier for you to teach them.

Here are some things you need to know about communicating with students with special needs and how to do it properly:

1. A need for connection

When dealing with students with special needs, it is important that we take note that they too, need connections to be able to feel loved and acknowledged by the people around them.

However, many people tend to ignore their needs because they do not understand what these children are going through. Some are even afraid to be associated with children with special needs because of the negative stereotypes connected to them.

It is actually quite easy to communicate with them even without the use of words. These children actually are more sensitive than others and if they see that you are making the effort to learn ways to reach out to them, they will definitely appreciate it and do their best.

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2. Don’t Assume

Since every child is different and every disability will cause different problems, don’t immediately assume that what’s right to do with one child is the right way to do for other children.

Always ask their parents how they speak to their child rather than immediately jump to what you know. You’ll be surprised that many parents homeschooled their special needs child. You can find out from them what are the receptive teaching methods they have used in the past.

You can also speak to the student directly and find out what is easier for them when it comes to communication.

3. Talk in an Age-Appropriate Manner

It is also important to take note when speaking to a child with special needs is that you should speak to them in the same way you speak to children of the same age.

Regardless of their condition, there is no reason why you should change your language when reaching out to children with special needs. Some children with special needs are actually very smart and it’s only their inability to speak or communicate that is hindering them from showing their skills and thoughts.

For example, a dyslexic student will struggle when comes to reading and understand content however, he will be able to communicate very well.  If people around them would speak to them in baby language because of their condition, they may be emotionally hurt by it and feel as if you are disrespecting them.

If you are going to have a student with special needs, you need to show to them that you will treat them like how you treat other children.

If they can speak, mimic their vocabulary because it can tell you what level their vocabulary is. If they can’t talk, you can use gestures and other non-verbal means to reach out to them.

4. Be Open and Honest

You should also be very open and honest when it comes to speaking with children with special needs.

Let them know if you are unable to follow their thinking and ask them gently to repeat what they said. Show to them that you are willing to wait for them to repeat what they said and be curious about the things they are doing. Be prepared to tailor lessons according to their needs here.

When they see these gestures, they will definitely feel that you care.

5. Don’t Judge

When you speak to a student with special needs, don’t judge them because of it. Even if they have a disability that disables them from having a normal life, they are unique in their own way. Instead, try to motivate the reluctant learner with these methods.

They may find it hard to reach out, but with their actions, you can see that they are more than what meets the eye.

6. Understand alternative methods of communication:

If you do have a student with special needs, here are great alternative forms of communication that you can teach them or use for your classes.

  • Gestures and Nonverbal Communication

Gestures are one of the best ways tutors can communicate with students with special needs, especially if they have auditory problems.

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There are certain gestures that can correspond to certain words like “yes”, “no” or “maybe”. You can also teach them sign language, which also use gestures for certain words and sentences.

  • Music

They say that music is a language everyone can understand no matter where they are located in the world. If you are teaching children with special needs, using music can definitely help because it is available in both verbal and non-verbal formats.

Music can also be a form for these students to express themselves and even reach out to others. It is also a great medium for these students to use if they feel sad.

  • Art

Like music, art is also a great medium for children to try out if they wish to share their thoughts without using any words. If your student is non-verbal or very limited in their verbal skills, you can introduce art to them as a creative way to release their anxieties and emotions.

They won’t even have to worry about failing or completing their work because in art, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Your students will also learn new textures such as paint textures and art materials.

They can also practice their motor skills as they create their own interpretation of art.

  • Movement

For children with special needs, they need motivation to be focused with their lessons and the best way to do it is by letting them move. It improves their attention span and controls their impulses.

Some children may also use movement to express themselves, especially if they cannot do so verbally. You can teach them new ways to move around like new dances and even movement exercises they can do to convey certain emotions.

  • Technology

Technology is also a great way to communicate with children with special needs.

There are now apps like these which they can use to learn non-verbally and even communicate verbally with the help of voice output applications. Some apps even teach these children how to become socially active and even make sentences with the help of pictures.


It is undeniable that teaching students with special needs is difficult, especially when it comes to communicating with them. It will take a lot of time and effort, especially as these kids will differ when it comes to how they can communicate with you.

Don’t hesitate to try various alternatives to reach out to them because once you do and with a little patience, you can definitely make a difference and show to them that learning is fun.

For further assistance on teaching special needs students, here are some:

7 Ways Home Tutors Can Support Students with Special Educational Needs
Teaching Tips: 5 Effective Ways TO Help ADHD Kids Learn


Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.