Psychic deficit

Under this heading we will deal with the cases of students with mental disabilities and students with physical or functional abnormalities, innate or acquired, such as people with disorders related to growth, skin diseases, tics or strange movements, with diseases such as cancer and other rare diseases that affect the circulatory, renal, digestive, immune or respiratory systems. In addition, taking into account the increasing prevalence in higher education of other difficulties, this section also discusses the cases of cognitive and learning disorders such as Dyslexia, Asperger's and Attention Deficit with or without Hyperactivity.

Several studies have shown that more than 25% of individuals suffer from one or more mental or behavioral disorders throughout their lives, although many of them remain unidentified or untreated. Social policies are increasingly sensitive to these aspects and try to intervene with preventive and palliative actions in the highest fields of action. Together they are the leading cause of disability in the world. They account for 40% of chronic diseases.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD 10, tenth edition) defines Mental Disorder as: "the presence of a behavior or a group of symptoms that in most cases are accompanied by discomfort or infer in the activity of the individual."


General features

In general, people here included suffer from physical and/or mental fatigue and manifest a different rhythm of life and work than usual. Sometimes they require outpatient treatment, hospitalization and medication that affect higher mental processes. In addition, their participation in group exercises is deeply affected by the social repercussion of their symptoms, which is why it is of special care.

The limitations in the most frequent daily activities are:

  •  Lack of initiative
  •  Difficulty planning, organising and managing time.
  •  Deficits in social skills.
  •  Greater vulnerability to stress.
  •  Sensory alterations.
  •  Alteration of the wake-sleep cycle.
  •  Cognitive disorders, such as attention, memory, concentration, etc.

As teachers, during the school term we should take into account certain general recommendations, with the precautions of the particular case addressed:

  • Do not take into account the lack of class attendance.
  • Carry out group work individually.
  • Do not make exhibitions in public, do them only with the teacher.
  • Provide the necessary notes.
  • Adapted practices.
  • The support of fellow mentors will be convenient.
  • Specialized external help will be allowed in the classroom.

During exams:

  • Increase the time allotted in exams
  • Perform the exams in the classroom apart from their classmates or in the teacher's office
  • Accompaniment to the exam to transmit security to the student. This accompaniment should be done until the entrance of the examination to maintain the normalisation of the situation as much as possible. At other times, it is important to enter the exam with the student.


Special Education Needs: ASD - Asperger

Autism Spectrum Disorder is defined in the DSM-V and CIE10 around a continuum that is defined by two poles: autism in one extreme (more severe) and Asperger's Syndrome in the other (less severe).

According to Pichot (1995) these disorders are characterized by severe deficits and generalized alterations in multiple areas of development. It includes alterations in social interaction, communication anomalies and the presence of stereotyped behaviors, interests and activities.

Asperger's syndrome, specifically, is a neurobiological development disorder that affects social functioning (deficits in social interaction, communication, development and maintenance of relationships) and the spectrum of activities and interests (fixed interests and repetitive behaviors). In many cases motor awkwardness is also present.

Curricular adaptation strategies. The relationship in the classroom:

  1. Use of visual supports in any teaching process. Additional information.
  2. Ensure a stable and predictable environment, avoiding unexpected changes: set guidelines of daily life, autonomy and changing university dynamics pose difficulties.
  3. Encourage the generalization of learning.
  4. Ensure learning patterns without errors.
  5. Decompose the tasks into smaller steps. Well sequenced, with a clear beginning and end. Advance materials.
  6. Offer opportunities to make choices.
  7. Help to organise their time, avoiding inactivity (between classes) or excessive dedication to their special interests: even if the student does not seek interaction, it is positive that his colleagues help him with an agenda to organise the work; offer reference persons (peers and teacher tutors, administration staff, family members).
  8. Explicitly teach skills and competences that usually do not require formal and structured teaching.
  9. Prioritize objectives related to the nuclear features of the Asperger syndrome.
  10. Include topics of interest to motivate their learning of new content.
  11. Pay attention to the emotional indicators, trying to prevent possible alterations in the mood. They show problems to work as a team.
  12. Avoid as much as possible the criticism and punishment, and replace them with positive reinforcement, flattery and reward: observe and monitor especially the behavior and reaction of their peers.
  13. Once established the routines and reached a certain point of progress, work, with professional advice if possible, in the training of flexibility.


Curricular adaptation strategies. The examination tests

In addition to aspects already discussed in the previous section.

  • Provide more time for exercises, practices, evaluations.

  • Give guidelines to answer and organise the time in the exams.

  • Adapt the exam format and the place.

  • Possibility of combining the oral exam with the written one (due to his graphomotor difficulties).

  • Continuous assessment.



  • Asociación Asperger Alicante. Carta de una estudiante universitaria con Síndrome de Asperger. [Recurso en línea]
  • Asociación Asperger Andalucía. Guía para la atención del alumnado universitario con Síndrome de Asperger. Federación Andaluza de Síndrome de Asperger [Recurso en línea].
  • Asociación Asperger España, Equipo Deletrea. Un acercamiento al Síndrome de Asperger: una guía teórica y práctica. IMSERSO.
  • BELINCHÓN, M. (2009). Hacia un modelo de apoyos universitarios a estudiantes con S.A. Necesidades y Propuestas de Actuación. Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.
  • Confederación Española de Autismo. Autismo TEA [Recurso en línea].
  • Federación Asperger España [Recurso en línea].
  • MIGUEL, A. (). Trastorno del Espectro Autista. RUA. Universidad de Alicante [Recurso en línea].


SEN - Sepcial Education Needs: Dyslexia, ADHD

Dyslexia is a disorder of neurological origin that affects phonological awareness. The processing of sounds associated with the spelling is altered. Thus, it manifests itself in the difficulty of reading, writing, problems of spatial and temporal orientation, sometimes it can affect the calculation and mathematical logic and in the same way there are people with dyslexia who present problems at the motor level. There are three categories:

  1. Rhythm of slower evolutionary development: in terms of the pace of doing class tasks, difficulties in focusing attention and following instructions, selective attention is poor so the MCP, delayed lateralization.
  2. Difficulties in auditory processing: difficulties in spelling tasks, organising and sequencing auditory stimuli, verbal character and rhythms.
  3. Difficulties in processing and visual processing: difficulties in search and visual coordination (for muscular coordination in the movement of the eyes), problems of dominance of one eye over another due to problems in manual lateralization.

We can also talk about phonological Dyslexia (mainly using the auditory pathway) superficial (predominantly uses the visual route) and mixed (both ways tend to fail).

Dyslexia is independent of any intellectual, cultural and emotional conditioning, and therefore occurs despite adequate intelligence and conventional schooling. In the primary stage, dyslexic children need their particular "BRAILLE" method to access learning, since in schools, most subjects are taught through the pathways that dyslexics have altered, such as reading and writing. This way all children with dyslexia suffer a delay in relation to their other classmates and if there is no detection of the problem, the child can suffer very negative consequences that in most cases turn into anxiety problems, depression, low self-concept, eating disorders, sleep disorders, etc.

The related signs and symptoms are:

  • Reading: The student confuses letters, changes syllables, and substitutes some words for others. He reads without understanding. When reading presents repetitions, omissions/additions of letters or words. When doing literacy activities, he complains about feeling or perceiving movements that do not really exist. Low reading comprehension
  • Writing and spelling: The student has problems in writing and copying. Sometimes it makes investments, omissions, additions and/or substitutions of letters and words from previous educational stages. Often the writing varies and may be illegible at times. His spelling is phonetic and inconstant; often committing misspellings. The way to take the pencil is different, putting too much pressure on the paper. Tendency to careless writing, disorderly, sometimes understandable, even manifesting grammatical inconsistencies.
  • Psychomotor coordination: The stages of development such as crawling and walking were achieved sooner or later than usual. Often presents difficulties in fine/ gross motor skills (tie the shoelaces, skate, ride a bike ...). He keeps the balance wrongly. Difficulties of coordination, he is seems a little off when playing ball games, team games... etc. He gets easily dizzy with some movements. It can be ambidextrous and often confuses left/right and up/down.
  • Mathematics and time comprehension: The student can count using your fingers or other tricks to work the mathematics. He defends can understand the mechanics of arithmetic operations but does not understand problems. He has a hard time working with money. He has difficulty learning to understand the clock, control his time, and understand sequential tasks. Planning difficulty.
  • Cognition memory and language: To understand mainly uses images, icons and feelings, rather than sounds and words. The difficulty in the perception of language is shown, for example, in the difficulty of following instructions. Excellent long-term memory for experiences, places and faces. Bad memory for what he learned the day before, as well as for sequences, facts and information that he has not experienced. He has a very fine ear. Listen to things that would often go unnoticed to others. It is easily distracted by sounds. He speaks in broken sentences, leaving incomplete sentences, does not pronounce long words well, omits articles and stutters when stressed. Great difficulty in learning foreign languages.
  • Personality: Low self-esteem. Extremely disordered or compulsively ordered. Demotivation. Strong sense of justice and perfectionists. Emotionally sensitive. Appearance of disruptive behaviors or progressive inhibition. He has sudden mood swings. Aversion to reading and writing. Greater capacity and sensitivity to perceive the environment. Rapid intuition ability. Great curiosity and creativity.

It is a continuum in which not all affected people show all symptoms equally with the same intensity.


Curricular adaptation strategies. The relationship in the classroom

In the previous educational stages, the reeducation of the phonological path has to be worked on in order to acquire better awareness. Exercises are carried out to strengthen grapheme and phoneme associations. Afterwards, the fluidity and speed are worked. Subsequently, the lexical path continues to be reeducated to develop a vocabulary or visual lexicon

  • In the university, the value of visual support in the explanation of concepts and procedures is evident. Multimedia materials, rich, varied, favor the acquisition of knowledge. The oral presentation of information favors their comprehension (they usually use readers through computers or podcasts).
  • Anticipation of materials.
  • They benefit from clear and precise instructions, written and verbalized, in the realization of practices, exercises, projects, evaluations.
  • Support from peers-tutors for the keep up with the subjects, strengthening the acquisition of concepts, procedures, learning strategies, planning.
  • Motivational support.


Curricular adaptation strategies. The examination tests

  • Individualised support to ensure understanding of test instructions.
  • Increase time, help to organize it.
  • Offer oral exams.
  • Individualised support for the understanding of vocabulary, possibility of a person reading aloud the statements.
  • Individualised support to answer tests type exams, review at the end.
  • Avoid performing several tests on the same day.
  • Tolerance to spelling and grammatical mistakes, assess content rather than form or structure.
  • Use of support products, computers, calculators.




Attention Deficit, with or without ADHD Hyperactivity

It is a disorder that presents a series of symptoms

  • It is characterized mainly by a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity, which is more frequent and severe than that usually observed in subjects of a similar level of development.
  • Is present in the school, family and/or work environment, with clear evidence of deterioration
  • It is not associated with another pathology.


The APA differentiates three subgroups (graduates of mild, moderate or severe)

  1. Predominance of inattention symptoms.
  2. Predominance of symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.
  3. They present inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity.

Curricular adaptation strategies. The relationship in the classroom

  • Emotional support, motivation, admiration or recognition, reinforcement.
  • Discretion.
  • Allow exhaust valves, discipline.
  • Social relations susceptible of rejection; frequent eye contact
  • Clarify standards, specify objectives, help in planning.
  • Accommodating the task at the work space; short, structured and motivating tasks; varied and supervised.
  • Relaxed language, simplifying instructions, but animated, away from monotony.
  • Encourage visual and dynamic activities.
  • Creativity, fun, spontaneity and sense of humor.


Curricular adaptation strategies. The examination tests

  • Mark times for task settings.
  • Check that the student reads the statements carefully.
  • Frequent rest periods.
  • Divide the test into parts.
  • Avoid distractors.
  • Possibility of oral exams, they obtain better performance than in the written ones.
  • Use of support products.