Functional Life Skills Approach

1. Educating children with special and/or behavioral needs effectively demands respect for individuals and for individuality. Not all persons with special needs have the same needs. The students come from a variety of backgrounds, demonstrate a variety of talents, strengths, and weaknesses, and must be assessed and worked with on an individual basis. Children with special needs should also be educated alongside their average-needs counterparts, to the benefit of both.
When children with average needs are exposed to children with special needs, an atmosphere of tolerance, awareness, and compassion will be more likely to permeate the school environment. Children with special needs also benefit from integration, except in exceptional circumstances when behavioral problems require some degree of separation. Finally, children with special needs require patience and long-term attention. Ideally, children with special needs will work with the same team of specialists for a long period of time.
2. The most important issues to keep in mind when implementing a Functional Life Skills Curriculum Approach include attention to individuality. While the program principles: communication, personal management, social skills, career skills, and applied academics remain stable, these core principles will need to be addressed differently for each child. Moreover, the children’s’ needs will change over time and it is important for educators to adapt and to notice when their needs or abilities are changing and adapt the curriculum accordingly.

3. Family Support is ideally integral to the educational process. However, in many cases family support is insufficient or lacking entirely. Family support offers educators a wealth of information about each child. The child’s background, his or her behaviors at home, and other crucial information can be gleaned only from parents and others who spend a lot of time with the child. The home environment might also offer educators clues as to which programs, services, or practices to offer the child.
4. Outside agencies, organizations, and the private sector have an impact on special education and on the educational process in general. School funding is often inadequate to meet the needs of exceptional students. At those times, educators need to become aware of external options and introduce those to the parents and the students.

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