Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Understanding Functional Skills And The Role They Play For A Special Needs Child

In this article I am going to tell you how functional skills can be used to bring out the very best in your special needs child. The reason I am going to tell you about the role functional skills play is because eventually every special needs child is going to grow up to be an adult.
By equipping them with the necessary life skills at an early age will serve them well and help them to be as independent as they possibly can be and lead as normal a life as possible (within their developed capabilities).
In this article I am going to teach you
  • what are the main functional skills to be given when you are a special needs child and
  • why functional skills are important for special needs children
The main functional skills applicable for special needs children are communication, problem solving, time management and self-help. These skills apply to real life situations and so are very practical and important for your child to develop these life skills.
The communication aspect deals with verbal and non verbal communication. Listening skills also form part of communication. Understanding what was said or implied and the tone, expressions, gestures etc used all form part of the communication process.
By being able to communicate effectively and understand what is being communicated, the special needs child will be able to integrate better into society.
Problem solving skills can cover a diverse range of topics such as how to deal with conflict, how to prioritize etc. It involves breaking down problems into manageable information segments covering how to determine what the problem is initially, breaking it down into manageable portions, considering the ways to approach solving the problem and then implementing change.
Time management involves setting priorities and timelines to get different tasks accomplished. It is often the case for special needs children that they look in detail at one component and not see the bigger picture or what needs to be accomplished.
Learning to see the task as a whole yet comprising of parts needs to be learned, followed then by determining what needs to be done and how long it will take for each part.
Self help can cover a diverse range of activities such as bathing, dressing, cooking, going shopping, managing money, learning to say no, asking for help etc. The level of self-help skills that each person needs will differ and how long it will take each person to master will differ from person to person.
By mastering the above functional skills, a special needs child should be able to adapt well to everyday living and be equipped to meet most challenges.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Emotionally Disturbed Children May Significantly Benefit From Individualized Education Programs

Many emotionally disturbed children are eligible for special education if their emotional condition occurs over a period of time to a significant degree and it adversely affects their educational performance. According to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) a child with an emotional disturbance must exhibit one or more of the characteristics: " an inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors, and inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers, inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances, a general; a pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression and/or a tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems."
Each state in the United States has regulations of their own to carry out the policies in IDEA. Some parents find it confusing that each state is allowed to determine what to name their categories of disabilities. For example; children with emotional and/or behavioral disabilities may be categorized under many different names, such as; emotionally disturbed, behaviorally disordered, significant identifiable emotional disability, emotional/behavioral disability and likely others I am unaware of. Regardless of what the disability category is called, if your child qualifies he or she is entitled to an Individualized Education Program (IEP) with annual goals and objectives, services and accommodations and modifications.
I have worked with many children with emotional disturbances who were in a self-contained classroom setting or integrated into the general education population with pullout and/or inclusion support. The diagnoses of the children I have worked with most often over my career as an educator are children with bi-polar disorder, anxiety disorder, reactive attachment disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. Some children with emotional disabilities are stabilized through medication and private therapy and their emotional disability does not negatively affect their education for long periods. Other children with these diagnoses tend to exhibit many behaviors as well as learning difficulties because of their emotional disabilities.
If your child qualifies for special education under the category of emotional disturbance, many interventions may be used in either the general education or special education setting to assist your child in experiencing more educational success. Some of the most common are: individual psycho-educational counseling, general group counseling or topical group counseling such as anger management or social skills, classes or participation in curricula in social skills, study skills and life skills, having a check-in/check-out person, graphic organizers to help with organizational skills, a designated "cool down" place to can go if the child gets overly angry, anxious or emotional, designated seating, testing and/or instruction in a smaller environment and a regular home-school communication system.
If you have a child with an emotional disability who has experienced significant struggles with school for an extended period of time and meets one or more the criteria listed in the first paragraph of this article, you may want to request, in writing, a special education evaluation from your child's school to determine their eligibility.