Posted in Autism, Down syndrome

Blog #74~ Teaching to 21

Blog #73~ Teaching to 21
Last week, I was a guest lecturer at Northern Illinois University. The graduate level class topic was “Functional Communication and Social Skills” as it relates to autism. I presented a parent’s perspective.

How about those Huskies, what a football team 🙂

NIU logo

One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is teaching personal independence. It’s never too early to start working on these skills. One concept brought to my attention by Nick’s support teacher from elementary school is called, “Teaching to 21.” What skills will an individual with special needs require to lead a successful life after school is finished? Here is a list of skills that should be addressed both in school and at home for students with special needs:

 Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS)

Source: http://autismbeacon.com/topics/article/functional_skills_for_people_on_the_autism_spectrum

“Functional skills” are those skills that if learners cannot do for themselves, someone will have to do for them. Functional skills are immediately useful and important. They increase self-help and independence and are present in every setting and throughout every stage of life:

Basic skills:
Self-management
Basic Communication
Dressing
Toileting
Grooming
Bathing
Health, safety, first aid
Night time routines

Home Skills Module:
Meals at home
Dishes
Clothing
Laundry
Housekeeping
Chores
Household mechanics
Leisure
Kitchen
Cooking

Community Participation:
Basic mobility
Community knowledge
Shopping
Meals in public
Money handling
Phone
Time
Social awareness
Manners

School Skills:
School waiting and transitions
Classroom routines
Meals at school
Classroom people, places and objects
Classroom mechanics
Outside school
Functional academics
Classroom leisure and independence

The IEP team should address these skills in goal planning and daily schedules of the student. In addition, supports should be put in place that will assist the student in reaching these goals. Here are some of the supports that Nick has used in school. Since Nick has Down syndrome and autism, these tangible provisions give him clarity and focus in doing his tasks.

*Visual supports such as task strips, social stories, picture schedules and video modeling:
task strip
*First-then visual or app to remind student what they are working for:
first then

first then app
*Timed Timer clock or app and Picture Scheduler app:

timed timer

picture schedule app
*Physical prompting-teacher may do hand over hand to teach a school and fade back to just pointing to direct student.
*Guiding student with visual cues (putting stickers on washcloths to teach folding sequence, sprinkle hole punch paper dots on floor to teach vacuuming, using counting templates, etc…)

Nick packaging door knobs_Habitat_4 (2)

For students with autism, if they can see it…. they can understand it. In Blog #5~Ready, Set, Action (located in April 2012 Archives) I wrote about how successful video modeling was in teaching Nick skills around the house. He responds to and is motivated by seeing the footage in a video format. It also landed him a community job at a local elder residence care facility.

Nick hard at work 🙂
Nick vacumming_Tabor Hills (3).

Nick takes great pride in his jobs both in the community, school and at home. We continue to work on the skills needed for him to be as independent in all areas of his life so he is ready to manage things when he is finished with school. It’s all about starting early and teaching to 21! That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa

Author:

Teresa is the mother of two boys. Her youngest son, Nick is 23 years old and has special needs including Down syndrome, autism and verbal apraxia. She is a parent advocate, speaker and writer who is currently working on the memoir of raising her son, Nick. You can follow Nick world on our Facebook page and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice of Autism. Find Nick on Instagram@ #nickdsaustism, Twitter @tjunnerstall.

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