Re: Disabled students
I have a 14-y.o. grandson who is low-functioning autistic. While I have not taken him on the mat for Aikido, I can tell you that he loves the sensory activity inherent to simple wrestling. He laughs and cackles the entire time, and constantly tries to get me to do it with him. Yet, he realizes that this is an activity that should only be done with "grandpa", and does not try to engage in the behavior with anyone else but me, either at home or at school. He is not big for his age, but is ape-strong and very flexible, so I have to stay on my toes, lest he jerk my ailing shoulder out of place.
What I have learned in working with him in all facets of his life would probably be good advice for anybody teaching anything to someone who is "challenged". This is just my $0.02, though, as I am not a trained professional, nor do I play one on TV.
1) Don't think of them as "disabled". Think of them as "differently-abled"
2) Identify and encourage their strong points, while helping them improve their weaknesses.
3) Every person is different, and the way you teach any one person may need to be different from the way you teach anybody else.
4) Be realistic in helping them to set goals that are attainable.
5) Be upbeat and nurturing. Reinforcement is important at all times.
6) And this is the most important one... Be patient. Progress is often measured in millimeters.
The very best of luck to you.