Are you concerned that your child with a disability is not learning
academics at a grade and age level pace? Have you thought that your
child may benefit from a curriculum of functional skills? Would you
like to learn about a resource that can help you learn more about
functional curriculums for your child in special education? This
article will discuss functional skills, functional academics, why your
child with a disability needs them, and a resource for more
Functional skills are defined as skills that can be used everyday, in
different environments. Functional skills focus on different areas
such as home (cooking, cleaning etc) family, self help skills
(Bathing, brushing teeth, dressing, grooming), employment, recreation,
community involvement, health, and functional academics. All students
with disabilities will benefit from functional skill training, to help
them in their adult life.
Functional academics are also important for children with
disabilities, who may not be able to learn age and grade appropriate
academics. Functional academics are defined as academic areas that
will be used by the student for the rest of their life. For example:
Reading (read signs; stop, go, mens, womens, read a recipe). Math
(Money, grocery shopping, making change, budget). Health (grooming,
oral hygiene, plan healthy meals). A wonderful resource to learn more
about functional skills, and functional curriculums to help children
with special needs is the book entitled Functional Curriculum for
Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Age Students with Special Needs.
The book is Edited by Paul Wehman and John Kregal, and is a resource
that you will use again and again.
Your child with a disability needs functional skills because these
skills will have meaning for your child, and will help them be as
independent as possible, as an adult. For example: Every child eats,
and being able to cook or prepare simple foods will help them be more
independent. If children learn simple household chores, these skills
can be turned into job skills when they get older. For example: My
daughter Angelina, who has a severe disability, learned how to fold
towels when she was in elementary school. When Angelina entered high
school she had a job folding towels at the high school pool. Because
Angelina already had the functional skill of folding towels, the
transition to a job folding towels was pretty easy. Angelina also
learned that when she worked hard folding towels, she was paid. On pay
day, she was able to spend the money that she made at her job.
Learning functional skills that can be turned into work is critical
for all children with disabilities. They will gain pride by being able
to work, and will understand the connection between work and money.
By learning what functional skills are and why they are important,
will help your child as they grow into adulthood. Do not be afraid to
bring up functional skill training for your child, when you are
participating in IEP meetings. Your child is depending on you to help
them be a happy fulfilled adult!