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UK Coaching Team
Supporting Specific Needs

Effective Communication: Coaching People with a Learning Disability

Practical tips for including people with learning difficulties in your coaching sessions

People with a learning disability may find difficulty in learning some skills to the same level or at the same speed as their peers.

The level of success will  be unique to each individual and you should not make assumptions about an individual’s ability.

When coaching people with learning disabilities, remember the following:

  • For any specific information, ask the participant. Sometimes, people with a learning disability may be unable to supply this information themselves – only then would it be appropriate to speak to a parent/carer or personal assistant.
  • Treat people by their age, not by their apparent level of ability. Never assume based on appearance.
  • Use simple, straightforward language, free of jargon. Use gestures and changes in the volume or tone of your voice to draw attention to what you say.
  • Use demonstrations given by yourself or other participants.
  • Check the person understands and is not merely copying the demonstration (eg, ask “What should you do now?” rather than “Have you understood?”).
  • Give time for skills to develop and repeat them often and in a variety of ways.
  • Break skills down into easily learnt steps.

You might be interested in

Inclusive Activity Programme eLearning Module

This online training module will help you to learn about making physical activity inclusive and accessible to everyone. Learn in your own time and at your own pace.

Take the course now

Related Resources

  • Coaching People with a Learning Disability

  • Practical Strategies to Use When Coaching People with Autism

  • Coaching People with Asperger Syndrome


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UK Coaching Team