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The Benefits Of Online Tutoring For Students With Special Education Needs

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benefits of online tutoring for students with special needs

In recent years, online tutoring has emerged as a powerful educational tool, revolutionizing how students access personalized learning. The University of Potomac states that almost 70% of students believe online instruction is as good or better than a traditional classroom environment.

For students with special education needs, online tutoring offers a plethora of advantages, fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment. Talking about special students, the National Center for Education Statistics states that over the last ten years, the number of students with disabilities has increased from 6.4 million (12.9 percent of all students) in 2011-12 to nearly 7.3 million (14.7 percent) in 2021-22.

This blog post will explore the significant benefits of online tutoring for students with special education needs, backed by relevant articles and studies, and present real-life examples to demonstrate its impact on their academic journey.

Personalized learning approaches

Online tutoring platforms use intelligent algorithms and adaptive learning technology to customize the learning experience for each student. This is great for students with special education needs because it creates a supportive environment where they can learn at their own pace and understand concepts better.

America’s Education News source posts the story of Maxwell’s children suffering from autism and anxiety. The Maxwells, who have three kids aged 9, 11, and 15, are among the many families in the U.S. who tried virtual learning for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic and are continuing with it now. Maxwell and her children mainly benefitted from the personalized online tutoring approach, which even their special schools failed to provide.

Example: Sarah, a high school student with dyslexia, struggled to keep up in her traditional classroom environment. With online tutoring, her tutor identified her learning challenges and customized a study plan, incorporating visual aids and interactive exercises to enhance her comprehension. As a result, Sarah’s confidence and grades soared.

Enhanced accessibility and flexibility

One of the key advantages of online tutoring is its flexibility, enabling students with special needs to access education from the comfort of their homes. This is helpful if the students have mobility issues or health conditions that make attending regular classes difficult.

Rosemary Garabedian, who heads Adelphi’s Student Access Office, said online classes might be easier for students with difficulty moving around (US News).

Example: Jake, a student with autism spectrum disorder, found traveling to a traditional tutoring center difficult due to sensory issues. Online tutoring allowed him to learn from the safety and familiarity of his home environment, easing stress and facilitating better focus during sessions.

Diverse communication channels

Effective communication is crucial for learning. Online tutoring platforms have different ways to help with communication needs. These platforms offer text chats, video calls, and instant messaging for students with speech and language trouble. This makes it easier and more comfortable for them to interact with tutors.

This blog from the New York Times tells an amazing story of how online tutoring can help special needs students. 

Example: Emily, a student with a speech disorder, struggled to articulate her thoughts during face-to-face tutoring sessions. The online platform allowed her to communicate through written messages, which gave her the confidence to express herself more freely and actively participate in discussions.

Extensive resource library

Online tutoring platforms often feature a vast resource library comprising multimedia content, interactive tools, and digital learning materials. These resources offer valuable support beyond the tutoring sessions for students with special education needs. It empowers them to reinforce their understanding and review challenging topics at their own pace.

Example: James, a student with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), often struggled to retain information from short tutoring sessions. With access to supplementary resources on the online platform, he could review lessons, watch instructional videos, and practice exercises to reinforce his learning, leading to remarkable improvements in his academic performance.

Tutor qualifications for students with special education needs

In 2018, Brittany Collins highlighted the need for online tutoring for disabled students. 

However, one of the most important steps is choosing a teacher who can satisfy the needs of the special students. 

Before hiring an online teacher, the parents or the special students must understand a few qualifications and experiences that online tutors should have:

The tutor must be a good narrator 

Before appointing any online tutor, make sure they can explain the topics clearly to the special students. 

Example: Jenny is blind and can’t see and understand a topic. Therefore, the teacher needs to be loud and clear so that Jenny can grasp the topic. The online tutor must inform Jenny of activities they are carrying out, such as finding a file to share or taking a pause in between the sessions. 

If it’s a group session, and Jenny arrives late, the tutor should still welcome them and let them know who else is in the room, who is speaking, and whether they need to wait their time. 

The tutor must be trained

The online tutor must be trained in tutoring students with specific disabilities. 

Example: Henry is deaf, and it’s difficult to understand and acknowledge what the teacher is saying. However, a professional teacher who knows sign language and can mimic things easily can teach the deaf student effortlessly. 

The tutor must be patient

Teachers should not shout at students, especially those with special needs, as it is unprofessional and inappropriate. Even accidental rude comments can be hurtful to the students. Special students can get emotional easily, so online teachers need to treat them kindly, speak gently, and maintain a professional demeanor.

The parents of the special students need to check thoroughly whether the teacher meets the requirements of their child or not.

Example: Nova takes time to understand certain concepts and struggles with poor memorization. He met an online tutor who explained the topic several times without getting agitated. The tutor also illustrates the topics using active storytelling methods to help him retain them for longer.

Besides, this article can help you find the best tutoring services.

Is online tutoring effective? [#10 proven studies]

Why should you believe in the effectiveness of online tutoring? Here are 10 strong proofs that prove the effectiveness of online tutoring.

  • U.S. Department of Education (2010): A meta-analysis of 51 studies comparing online and face-to-face instruction across various subjects and grade levels showed that students who received online tutoring performed slightly better than those who received in-person tutoring, with a small but statistically significant advantage for online tutoring.
  • Bramble Survey: This survey found that a staggering 84% of the students who participated reported that online tutoring surpassed the effectiveness of in-person tuition.
  • Duffin (2019): A survey revealed that 52% of graduate students in the U.S. believed that their online college-level education offered a superior learning experience compared to their classroom education.
  • University of Potomac: 70% of students said that online classes are a better alternative to the traditional classroom setting.
  • Bay Atlantic University: Over 63% of students at this university choose online learning because it suits their schedule better.
  • US News: Rosemary Garabedian, the head of the Student Access Office at Adelphi, mentioned that students facing challenges in moving might find online classes more manageable.
  • America’s Education News: This source posts the story of Maxwell’s children suffering from autism and anxiety. The Maxwells, who have three kids aged 9, 11, and 15, are among the many families in the U.S. who tried virtual learning for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic and are continuing with it now. Maxwell and her children mainly benefitted from the personalized online tutoring approach, which even their special schools failed to provide.
  • Information Systems Education Journal (ISEDJ): This journal published a study stating that online tutoring can benefit students with different learning styles by tailoring study plans according to their learning preferences.
  • Phys.org (2020): Oreopoulos and his colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 96 randomized controlled trials of tutoring programs that span three decades. They found that students randomly selected to receive tutoring in math or English outperformed their peers more than 80 percent of the time, and half the studies in the analysis revealed very large effects.
  • Scientific American (2020): Studies show tutoring is a highly effective tool. Preliminary evidence suggests that virtual tutoring models may produce the same benefits as in-person tutoring.


The rise of online tutoring has opened new doors for students with special education needs, fostering an inclusive and supportive learning environment that caters to their unique requirements. 

Personalized learning paths, enhanced accessibility, diverse communication channels, and extensive resource libraries are just a few of the many benefits that make online tutoring an invaluable tool for academic success. 

As technology continues to evolve, so does the potential for even greater advancements in supporting students with special education needs, empowering them to thrive in their educational journey like never before.


Where to find a qualified online tutor?

Special students must find a qualified online teacher who can satisfy their needs. They need to know the strategies and methods of where to find a qualified online tutor.
We find several posters and advertisements focused on education in our daily lives. Contact them if you see any online ads from teachers looking for special students to teach online. Inform them about your needs and get to know their teaching strategies.
Look for the best online tutoring platforms on Google offering personalized sessions, preferably one-on-one classes. Remember to browse the site’s reviews section. 
Once you’ve located the platform, visit their website and review their admissions criteria. Find the right tutor and schedule a demo session. If things go right, you can continue your lessons in the future.

What are 5 Tips to make the most out of online tutoring?

To get the best academic results from online tutoring, follow these tips:
1. Don’t hesitate to ask questions, especially about challenging topics. Clear your doubts during live sessions.
2. Special students should request personalized notes and study materials with clear handwriting.
3. Chat with your tutors during breaks to build confidence and discuss interests.
4. Ask your tutor to assign homework that builds your concept but does not drain you mentally. Taking care of your physical and mental health is most important.
5. Parents should talk to online tutors weekly to track their child’s progress. Check online portals for teachers’ remarks and grades to stay updated on your child’s academic performance.

How should special students read online?

To improve memory and understanding, students should read more often and actively. Before reading a passage or textbook, check headings, information, pictures, captions, and vocabulary items. The online teacher can also discuss the subject beforehand and ask the student to guess what the passage will be about. These practices can help enhance their skills.

What are the biggest learning challenges online we see in the various age groups with special needs?

The biggest learning challenges for people with special needs in different age groups during online learning include:
Kindergarten to Elementary School: Younger students may struggle with attention, engagement, and navigating online platforms due to reading difficulties and limited motor skills.
Middle School: Middle school students may need help organizing their work, understanding complex topics, and adapting to online social interactions.
High School: High school students may have difficulty coping with the fast pace of online classes, understanding advanced subjects, and managing independent learning.
College and Beyond: College students with special needs may face challenges accessing specialized support services, managing time, and handling increased academic demands.

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