Muscular Dystrophy Facts and Teaching Strategies
Muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease that is characterized by a progressive muscular degeneration. The disorder is caused by a faulty or missing gene. Persons affected by this disorder experience muscle weakening and eventually death. There are two types of muscular dystrophy: myotonic and Duchenne. Myotonic muscular dystrophy is a condition where the muscles cannot relax after contraction. It is the most common adult muscular dystrophy. Persons with this disorder are usually diagnosed between the ages of 10 and 30 years. Duchenne is a type of muscular dystrophy where muscle tissue is degenerating and being replaced with fatty tissue. This is the most common form and quickest degenerative muscular dystrophy. This disease is linked to a gene that affects males and that females do not get affected by, but can act as carriers.
The following are helpful suggestions for teachers who have students with muscular dystrophy:
Parent/Student/Teacher Meeting – get together with the child and his or her parents so you may best figure out the student’s needs
Check into IEP or other special plan that may need to be administered
Work together with student, parents, counselors, etc to promote student well-being and offer support
Address muscular dystrophy in the classroom – educate other students about the disorder- be sensitive to how this will make your student feel and assess the situation.
Schedule bathroom breaks or allow student to leave class a bit early to maneuver through the building
Promote the use of muscles whenever possible and appropriate.
Try a variety of supplemental material that works best with the muscular dystrophy student to promote learning.
Make sure student has access to elevators and ramps (my school has NONE!!!)
Be cognizant of signs of depression or isolation and deal with accordingly – contact parents, talk with student, talk with counselor and other supports.
Encourage active classroom participation to help boost self-confidence. Reward student for a job well done.
Extended time for projects, assignments, and exams.
Seat student in an appropriate place in room so he/she can fully participate and doesn’t feel out of the loop.
Group student into cooperative learning groups that would be beneficial for all involved.
Keep an open and ongoing communication with parents, counselors, therapists on conditions and progress of student.
Submitted by: Hillary Mason
Muscular Dystrophy. British Columbia Ministry of Education site. 27 July, 2007.