Strategies for Developing Functional Living Skills for Special Needs Students

Strategies for Developing Functional Living Skills for Special Needs Students
Strategies for Developing Functional Living Skills for Special Needs Students

Strategies for Developing Functional Living Skills for Special Needs Students

strategies for developing functional living skills in learner with special needs.


Functional living skills; Are skills needed by learners to be able to function well in everyday life. Such skills enable an individual to live an independently life. The following are examples: cooking, cleaning, bathing, brushing teeth, dressing and grooming.

Cronin (1996) defined life skills are those skills or tasks that contribute to the successful, independent functioning of an individual in adulthood” (p. 54). These skills may generally be grouped in five broad clusters (aligned with Halpern’s 1994 definition of comprehensive transition services): self-care and domestic living, recreation and leisure, communication and social skills, vocational skills, and other skills vital for community participation (such as post- secondary education) (Nietupski & Hamre-Nietupski, 1997, p. 38).

This review focuses exclusively on three of these five curricular domains – those curricular interventions designed to teach self-care and domestic skills, recreation and leisure skills, and personal competence in community living skills (Hendrick, 2002).

Learners with special needs; Are those learners who demonstrate a significant discrepancy between academic achievement and intellectual abilities in one or more areas of oral expression, written expression, listening comprehension, basic reading skills, reading comprehension ,mathematical calculation and reasoning or spelling.

The strategies that used to develop the functional skills to the learners with special needs are different accordance to the kind of disabilities such as hearing impaired learners, cognitive disability, visual impaired, speech impaired and physical disabilities learners and it explained as following:

The followings are strategies used to develop the functional skills to the learners with hearing Impairment;
HEARING IMPAIRMENT; this is the process in which a person has partially or totally inability to receive a sound from the environment which is caused by dysfunction of outer ear, middle ear or inner ear.

Teaching and Academic Accommodations

General classroom teachers, special educators, parents, and students themselves should identify and implement specific accommodations together. These accommodations may include having the student work with a peer in the classroom, providing the student with lecture notes and other written information before class, and sending written announcements of important events home.

Visual materials, such as pictures, charts, and graphs, should be used to allow students to see what they are learning. This strategy involves: accommodating the hearing impaired in general classroom, inclusion in language arts classes and physical education (Freud, & Rich, 2005). .

Communicating and using Sign Language

Children with hearing loss use different communication methods to send and receive verbal messages. Speech reading involves watching lip movement and observing facial expressions and body gestures to interpret what is being said.

Each country it has own sign language which is used by all types of students with different types of hearing loss, and it is often taught by both groups. Learning sign language can benefit those who are hearing impaired as well as students who can hear.

Activities and Assistive Devices

Specific activities can help children with hearing loss grow academically and socially. Students who pretend play, share classroom responsibilities, or sign words during story time develop communication skills and confidence. Games involving social skills and activities that encourage students to sign in public teach children that their hearing disability does not define them.

Assistive technology also allows students to see beyond their disability and accomplish what they thought was impossible (Dellmer & Thurston ,1999).

The followings are among of the hearing devices used to develop the functional skills to the learners with hearing impairment;

Alerting devices

These refers to assistive devices that connect with door bells, telephones, and other alarming devices. These devices add a specific alarm based on one’s disability, for instance a deaf individual can have a door bell that blinks a light instead of a noise to indicate someone is at the door (Marilyn & William 2006 ).

Alerting diagrams

Strategies used to develop the functional skills to the learners with speech Impairment;
It is important to implement strategies that address the needs of the individual in communicating. These strategies recommended to be used at home, school and community context, and can be applied in four ways:

Language; this refers by focusing on interactive communication by using active listening, use story books sharing in which story is read to student and response are elicited and the praise can be given for appropriate comment about the content and also use linguistics. Scaffolding techniques that involve use of questions. Through this teacher can reinforce communication attempt for example through using gestures, facial verbalization, when the student is non-verbal or imaging verbal (Birsh, 2002).

Speech; it refers to development and procedure for the student to ask for help and speak direct to the students. Teacher advised to use a good speech model so as to construct the speech language pathologist concerning with their assignment and activities which are being provided to the learner.

The teacher also should be aware that a student may require another form of communication, apart from that teacher should provide assistance and provide positive reinforcement when the student shows their ability to do something without any help (Birsh, 2002).

Academic and behavior; teacher should be near the student when giving instruction and ask the student to repeat the instruction and prompt when necessary. Also teacher advised to provide visual cues on the board or chart paper so as to redirect the student frequently by providing step by step direction through repeating when necessary. Also to allow student to tap lectures and modify classroom activities so as to make learners be less difficult but have the same learning objectives.

Due to that fact teacher should establish communication goals related to students work experiences and plan strategies for the transition from school to employment and adult life (Birsh, 2002).
Strategies used to develop the functional skills to the learners with cognitive disabilities.

The learners with cognitive disabilities facing some difficulties in learning such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia and dyspraxia, attention deficit disorders, asperser’s syndrome among others which have been contributing much to the introduction of different strategies for the affected to gain cognitive skills.

Transfer of stimulus control; trial and error learning is insufficient and frustrating for students without disabilities. For students with mental retardation and learning problems, it likely to be a complete waste of time. Instead of waiting to see whether the students will make a correct response, the effective teacher provides a prompts (e.g. physical guidance, verbal direction, picture cues, prerecorded auditory prompts) that makes a correct response very probable.

Systematic feedback; instructional feedback information provided to the students about their performance fall into two categories: praise and other forms of confirmation or positive reinforcement for correct responses and error correction for incorrect responses.

Using feedback is one of the most important skills for teachers. Effectively teachers change the focus and timing of the feedback they provide as a student progresses from initial attempts at learning new skills through practicing newly acquired skills.

For example when praising a student’s correct response when reading the word corn the teacher might say, the word corn is vegetable, the vegetable is instructive feedback (Heward,2006).
Cooperative learning; Cooperative learning can be defined as an interaction strategies in which small group of learners are active involved in jointly accomplishing an activity.

The goals of cooperative learning are to foster cooperative interaction, to teach cooperative learning skills and to promote positive self esteem. However researches have proved how effective the strategy is in promotion positive social interaction between children with and without disabilities.

In addition cooperative learning use the social dynamics of the group to support social interaction and friendship, teaches children to encourage one another, and celebrates the success of peers. Cooperative learning operates under four elements of cooperative learning these includes; Positive interdependence, communication (or-face to face interaction), accountability of all members, and group process (with emphasis on interpersonal skills.)

Task analysis: is a process by which a task is broken down into its components parts. Task analysis simplifies a work which seem to be difficult and complex, thus for students with cognitive disability (processing disorder and difficult with organization) it is necessary to take much time to express different parts of the task until the student mastered the required task .

For example, telling a student to put his coat on to go home at the end of the day, it seems self explanatory, though there are several steps involved (such as where is the coat, how to put on the coat, and how to close the zipper or buttons) and teaching a learner on toileting (Heward, 2006).

Strategies used to develop the functional skills to the learners with physical impairment;
Environmental arrangements: Environment arrangements are one of the least intrusive steps that teachers can take to promote engagement of children within their educational settings.

To fulfill this, three strategies are involved which are; the arrangement of physical spaces, the selection of materials, and provision of structure to activities.

To arrange the physical space there are also factors to be considered which involves selection of a quiet area located away from noisy areas. Adequate space is provided for easy movement throughout the classroom; this is because too little space may result in increasing negative behaviors and too much space may result in reduced interactions among children.

In selection of materials, attention also should be considered in case of safety, multidimensional and developmentally appropriate for the children within the classroom.

Another environmental strategy that could enhance engagement is the provision of structure within the activity. Researchers have found that structured activities resulted in increased social interactions between children with and without disabilities. Example of structure includes setting rules for a specific activity and identifying child role within the activity (Gargiulo & Kilgo, 2005).

Promoting acceptance; promoting acceptance is a strategy that can be viewed as creating and preparing the social environment to be more accepting of child with physical disability. It is strategy that supports engagement with peers and one that is easily over looked when preparing a class for young children with disabilities.

The materials and equipments which help learners who face challenges to live independently in every day and to be able to perform different living skills which correlating with various daily living activities. These adaptive materials and equipments it includes:-

Wheel chair; is a chair with wheels, also this device comes in variations allowing either manual propulsion by the seated occupant turning the rear wheels by hand, or electronic propulsion of motors ( Heward, 2006 ).
There often handles behind the seat to allow it to be pushed by another person. Below are diagrams of wheel chairs:

Crutches; these are mobility aid that transfers weight from the legs to the upper body. It is often used for people who cannot use their legs to support their weight, for reasons ranging from short term injuries to lifelong disabilities.
. It is a good choice after a leg injury or surgery if you only need a little help with balance and stability.

Crutches diagrams

• Toileting chair; this refers to height adjustable chair for children can be used as commode chair, a potty or as standard chair. This chair has a wooden frame with height adjustable or fixed armrests for supports (Paciorek & Munro, 1998).

Toileting chairs diagrams.

Strategies which can be used to develop the functional skills to the learners with visual impairment.
Development of social skills; this includes skills for indecently completing school tasks classroom jobs and using classroom materials such as glue and scission.

Encouraging independence should be stressed at this time. For example using verbal directions /prompts will facilitate independence much more than a hand over hand approach. Children need social skills of interacting with other children, such as sharing, taking turns and playing cooperatively.

Experiences outside of the classroom in the neighborhood and with community group’s helps children at this age establish friendships and foster the growth of social skills.

Language/literacy; the use of Braille and Print concept will help the children with low visual and visual impairments understanding print concepts and this will helps to translate into understanding the concept that Braille dots have and convey meaning.

It also means the acquisition of book skills such as knowing how to turn pages and track lines of Braille like other children they also need beginning phonics skills, such as identifying rhyming words and beginning/ending sounds. They also need to demonstrate the ability to comprehend stories read to them, such as recalling details and the sequence of events in the story.

By the end of kindergarten children are expected to identify their own name and read simple words and sentences. They should be able to write the letters of the alphabet and use invented spelling and some consonant and vowel sounds to write simple stories of several sentences.

Children are expected to have an understanding of number concepts. They should be able to count objects and identify numerals from 0-10. The Nemeth Braille code should be introduced real objects should be used to lay the foundation, but tactile graphics introduced early will help transfer the concept of a three-dimensional shape/object to a two-dimensional graphic for later math understanding (Cooper, 1990).

Physical development and health; these include gross and motor skills. Children are expected to move around the classroom, building and school playground independently.

Early orientation and mobility instruction will help them achieve this knowledge as it exposes them to Community environments. .Example the use of white cane should be used as primary mobility tool and as a courtesy to others, serving a slightly different need; it can be long cane or fold cane.

White cane diagrams
Obviously, orientation and mobility instruction is critical to have independent self-care skills in toileting, washing hands, hanging up coats, and eating. Children need to participate fully in all music and arts activities. Usually only small adaptations will be needed for full access to these activities (Gargiolo & Kilgo, 2005).


Once a curriculum has been prepared, formative evaluation is conducted by curriculum specialists to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the curriculum.

The aim of evaluating the curriculum is to modify and becoming adaptive to all learners with and without disabilities including conducive environment and availabilities of the learning and teaching materials.

Curriculum specialists and evaluators visit the selected school to observe how the learning materials are being used and obtain more data or information so as having reserve information for achievement or failure for the curriculum developer.

This evaluation enables curriculum developers to assess the relevance and suitability of the curriculum making decisions about whether this program should be adopted, modified or dismissed.

Strategies for Developing Functional Living Skills for Special Needs Students
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