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.
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)
“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:
Health, safety, first aid
Night time routines
Home Skills Module:
Meals at home
Meals in public
School waiting and transitions
Meals at school
Classroom people, places and objects
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 a dual diagnosis of 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:
*First-then visual or app to remind student what they are working for:
*Timed Timer clock or app and Picture Scheduler 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…)
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 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. 🙂
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