Secondary Issues Archive 2005
Priscilla Harvell, M.A., CCC-SLP
Priscilla Harvell's expertise is supported by over 20 years in the field of Special Education as a Speech and Language Pathologist, Special Day Class Teacher and eight years as a Secondary Specialist for the Northern California Diagnostic Center.
Click a topic below to expand the full question and answer.
How parents can guide and support transition.
Dear Ms. Harvell,
My daughter, "Brenda" (not her real name), suffered a brain injury a few years ago at the age of 13. She's now 17. The school is having a meeting to talk about transition and want me to bring her to the meeting. I know what's best for her and feel she doesn't need to be there. Do I have to bring her to the meeting? Oh and I plan to legally become her permanent guardian before she's 18 so no one will take advantage of her as an adult. Can you tell me how to go about doing that?
Thanks very much,
Question 1: Do you have to bring your daughter to a meeting that will discuss transition?
I assume you are referring to the development of your daughter’s Transition Plan. Since she is seventeen and at the doorstep of legally becoming an adult, I would definitely say, yes! The law requires that a student sixteen and older be “invited” to their IEP/Individual Transition Plan meeting. However, if your daughter is unable to attend, then collect and share his/her interests, strengths, challenges, etc. at the meeting.
Don’t you want your daughter to lead her own life to the best of her abilities? Yes? Then, it is important that she begin to experience the transition to adult living by attending and participating in her planning meeting and sharing information about who she is and who she wants to become. Give her the opportunity to learn through her teachers, in the community with you, and eventually in the workplace (supported, volunteer).
The easiest thing for you to do is “speak” for your daughter because you know her better than anyone else. Nevertheless, you need to answer the following questions before you take away or become her “voice”:
- Do you want her to speak for herself once she is an adult?
- Is she physically capable of participating in this meeting? e.g., walks, talks, uses wheelchair, etc.
- Will there be dissention at the meeting that you do not want her to hear?
- Are you afraid she will be uncomfortable and not know what to say?
- Does she talk about what her dreams are, even if they are unrealistic vocationally?
- Does she have a specific interests and/or talent that she constantly talks about?
- What are her strengths and challenges at school and in the community?
Who better to respond to most of these questions than Brenda? Discuss them with Brenda before deciding what is best for her based totally on your feelings.
Research indicates the importance of control of ones life as the key to successful transition to adulthood. Included in the concept of control is self-awareness/knowledge, self-advocacy skills, making decisions, and development of problem solving skills. All of these skills + control will allow your daughter to take charge of her life to the best of her abilities. This may mean you, a caregiver, or others who support her now and in the future, will serve as the support base that promotes Brenda’s independence.
I have just read an article that provided the following timely information to your question. Although it does not specifically address brain injury, apply these points to your daughter independence development.
How Parents Can Guide and Support Transition
“Because successful transition relies on a clear understanding of a young person’s interests, strengths, and areas of struggle, parents play a key role in helping to insure a successful transition for a young person with learning disabilities. With parents’ help, a child can:
- Become more aware of their learning strengths and needs, and use their strengths to overcome or bypass areas of weakness
- Learn to better advocate for themselves in school and work settings, by developing a clear sense of how their strengths contribute to school or work success, and which adaptations or technology increase their effectiveness
- Explore career interests and aptitudes in the “real world,” through volunteer, summer, and part-time work
- Learn to be flexible and persistent, not allowing an occasional set-back or disappointment to throw them off course
A young person’s career path may not always be as direct or smooth as parents would like. When parents are open and flexible, it provides a young person a valuable opportunity to figure out, through trial and error, which pursuits he’ll find personally satisfying…”
Linda Broatch, Writer/Editor, M.A. in Education, with a focus in Child development; read the entire article at http://www.schwablearning.org/articles.asp?r=970&g=2
In response to your second question, the best way to know about a subject is to gather as much data as you can. Get proper legal advice and learn about the various degrees of guardian and conservatorships (shared, partial, and total). It may be that you want to have input before your daughter makes any binding agreements. To help you begin your research, read the information at the following web sites that will link you to additional resources on the subject.
When You Become 18 discusses all aspects of “Age of Majority” issues using student friendly language. This guide includes an area dealing with conservatorship.
Age of Majority: Preparing Your Child for Making Good Choices
Look under Conservatorship.
Parent Information Center . Article on Planning a Successful Life: Transition Tips for Parents. The following is a pertinent quote from the article dealing with the importance of self-determination:
“One aspect of transition planning the family must consider is how much independence and self-determination is realistic to expect of the individual.
Parents must also decide how much they are willing and able to let go, and allow independence and self-determination. If parents have been thinking and planning for transition, they will have been giving their child opportunities to make choices, to reach decisions and to experience consequences – the forerunners of independence and self-determination.”
Best of luck to you and your daughter.
I am a great believer and user of your transitional program. I attended your two transitional presentations (moderate to severe) at SCOE in Santa Rosa last year. Yesterday, while perusing your resource section, I came across a resource for which the web site address was no longer working. I was wondering if you could tell me about this resource and how I might access it now.
You listed it under "Accommodation self-assessment. The website was listed as: http://www.1dinfo.com/self-vocacy_chapter_5.htm#top
This is an area of importance to me -- and resources on accommodations self- assessment, even if different from this one would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks for your support. Transition is so, so important for our young people in today’s changing world.
Another thank you for bringing this to my attention. This resource has been available for some time at this site and has changed its format. You can access the site at http://www.ldinfo.com/sa2.htm and can link to an order page if you want to do this activity with your students. I am not suggesting that you purchase this survey; however, it is one of the best accommodation web sites I have come across. What I like about this survey tool is that students get to self-evaluate their accommodation needs in the following areas:
- In the classroom (more visuals, examples, hands on tasks)
- On assignments (extra time, work with a partner, knowing what is expected
- On tests (extra time, visual cues, take home test)
I always suggest that you tell students that this is a “wish list” so they do not expect these accommodations to appear in their IEP. It also gives students some feeling of self-advocacy, e.g., being able to share the results at their IEP meeting.
It is important to know what the California Department of Education (CDE) says about accommodations for special education students. There are test variations, accommodations, and modifications guidelines displayed on a matrix for various tests administered in California. Compare the accommodation self-assessment survey with the matrix. You can access the CDE web site at http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sa/documents/matrix5.pdf.
An additional accommodation resource:
- Transition Portfolios for Students with Disabilities (2002) by Mary Ann Demchak & Robin G. Greenfield. Published by Corwin Press, Inc., Thousand Oaks, CA 91320, 800-818-7243
This book has a chapter on Adaptations and Supports that include checklists for AT, Instructional and Environmental accommodations, visual impairments, hearing impairments and a "do's/don'ts" list.
One last point, always ask the student if the accommodation works for him/her. This lets them know that their opinion is valued and that you support/validate their input.
I will let you know if I discover other worthwhile self-assessment accommodation checklists and/or surveys.
New IDEA 2004 law and transition.
Dear Ms. Harvell,
I am very confused by the new IDEA law. My daughter attends a California middle school and is in a special day class. She will be turning 14 this year and I don't know if she is to have a transition plan in her IEP? What I read in the new IDEA is that now, transition does not start until the child's 16th birthday. Is this law in effect now? Should I not consider transition for my daughter until she is 16?
A confused Mom
Dear confused mom,
Let me attempt to clarify IDEA 2004’s statement on Transition Services. The Schwab Learning Internet site provides a complete parent friendly interpretation of the IDEA 2004 changes at IDEA 2004 Close Up: The Individualized Education Program (IEP) and includes the following statement regarding the changes in Transition,
“Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child is 16, and updated annually, the IEP should include appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills, and the transition services the child needs to reach those goals. IDEA 2004 eliminates the requirement to begin consideration of a student’s transition service needs at 14 and adds a new requirement for measurable postsecondary goals. This requirement aligns more closely with the process for determining academic and functional goals and then delivering the special education and related services needed to meet those goals. The addition of appropriate transition assessments also helps clarify that transition planning should be based on, and driven by, data as well as the student’s interests.”
Although California is among several states that maintains this age focus (14), it will comply with the change. However, key for educators and parents to remember is that even though the law changes the timing, “best practices” dictates addressing Transition before age 16.
What does “best practices look like to a parent? It means that you definitely should consider Transition for your child, but differently. In a previous “Ask a Specialist” question and answer, I offered activities/options parents to do to prepare your child for life after high school. These activities will help you develop an awareness of your child’s, e.g., strengths, challenges, learning style, etc.
The following are some activities to do with your child:
- Attend IEP meetings and discuss ways to include Transition “talk” (world of work, vocabulary of work) into their goals.
- Complete various surveys, e.g., personal values, learning styles, decision making surveys, career interest (see http://www.dcn-cde.ca.gov/dctrain/Units/4pgs.htm)
- Find out what your child knows about “transitions”. Talk about changes that occur for everyone, everyday and that sometimes change is scary; however, change is good. Let your child know you are available when he or she has questions or concerns about next steps.
- Attend transition fairs.
- Ask to share your job title/responsibilities in your child’s classroom.
- Explore community resources and activities of interest.
Remember do not panic! Put these ideas into operation and let me know how things work out.
Good luck, Priscilla
How do you write measurable transition goals that show the needed linkages?
How do you write measurable transition goals that show the needed linkages?
I am not sure whether your reference to, “needed linkages” is a reference to Internet links or something else. Therefore, I will answer with my perception of your question.
The important components to remember when writing measurable Transition goals and objectives in students Individual Education Plan might be:
- Who – relates to the student
- Does what – observable behavior
- When – relates to a specific point in time
- Given – what conditions
- How much – mastery, criteria
- How will it be measured – performance data
These “tips” to goal writing are from CALSTAT. You can read more at http://www.calstat.org/iep.
In addition, make sure your Transition goals connect to the California State Standards. Let me give you an example of how this information might look in the area of Mathematics – 7 th Grade (modified from SEACO Special Education Alternate Curriculum).
Standard: 7.1.2 (number sense)
- Add, subtract, multiply and divide rational numbers (integers, fractions, and decimals) and take positive rational numbers to whole number powers.
“Linda” will add, subtract problems of rational numbers at her instructional level
by performing correct calculation functions with correct responses
when using a calculator for cost pricing of food items for meals
in 3 out of 4 trials
within 7 out of 10 trial days
as measured by student work and teacher data sheet.
**Achievement to move on to new objective
As you can see, the mathematics standard and transition goals are both addressed in the same goal, thereby meeting our state standard and transition requirements.
If you wanted to “link” your objective to an Internet web site, you could list the site for the California Standards referencing Mathematics – 7 th grade athttp://www.cde.ca.gov/be/st/ss/mthgrade7.asp. and the National Career Development Guidelines (NCDG) at http://www.acrnetwork.org/ncdg.htm#Using. Both of these web sites provide grade level compensatory information for California Standards and Transition. I have found the NCDG very helpful and so have educators who teach special and general education.
I hope my “perspective/translation” of your question was on target. If not, the information should prove useful regardless.
Up-to-date information on transition laws and practices.
I love the web page and all the info you have. I am currently interested in up-to-date info on transition laws and practices! Great info.
Do you still provide training in transition?
It was great to see you at the WorkAbility I Conference in San Diego last month. I hope your Transition presentation went well on April 29 th.
As you know, President Bush signed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (Public Law 108-446), on December 3, 2004. This signing constituted a major reauthorization and revision of IDEA. To summarize, the changes in the area of Transition focus on the following:
- Transition was amended to clarify the services as a results-oriented process vs. an outcome-oriented process.
- The focus is on improving academic and functional achievement.
- Timing of the requirement, e.g., statement of “Transition Services is changed to “not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child is 16… (614(d)(1) (A)(i)(VIII)). The current IDEA speaks to Transition needs beginning at age 14 and/or earlier is needed. California maintains this age focus, but will comply with the change once the amended IDEA becomes effective in July 2005. Remember that even though the law changes the timing, “best practices” dictate that educators continue to address Transition before age16.
- Language continues to reflect post-secondary goals for appropriate education, training, employment and independent living skills based on the student’s strengths and interest. (614(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)(aa)).
This chart, from The National Association of State Directors of Special Education 16
November 2004 at
http://www.nasdse.org/documents/IDEA%20Part%20A%20112204.pdf, compares the changes in vocabulary between IDEA and IDEIA 2004.
(Blue – old vocabulary) (Red – new vocabulary)
IDEA ’97 – P.L. 105-17
H.R. 1350 as Passed by Congress
(30) Transition services. The term ‘transition services’ means a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability that—
(A) is designed within an outcome -oriented process, which promotes movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational training , integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(B) is based upon the individual student's needs, taking into account the student's (added strengths) preferences and interests; and
(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
(34) TRANSITION SERVICES.--The term `transition services' means a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that--
(A) is designed to be within a results -oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education , integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(B) is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths , preferences, and interests; and
(C) includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation.
(35) UNIVERSAL DESIGN.--The term `universal design' has the meaning given the term in section 3 of the Assistive Technology Act of 1998 (29 U.S.C. 3002).
(36) WARD OF THE STATE.--
(A) IN GENERAL.--The term `ward of the State' means a child who, as determined by the State where the child resides, is a foster child, is a ward of the State, or is in the custody of a public child welfare agency.
(B) EXCEPTION.--The term does not include a foster child who has a foster parent who meets the definition of a parent in paragraph (23).
SEC. 603. OFFICE OF SPECIAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS.
(a) ESTABLISHMENT.--There shall be, within the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the Department of Education, an Office of Special Education Programs, which shall be the principal agency in the Department for administering and carrying out this title and other programs and activities concerning the education of children with disabilities.
(b) DIRECTOR.--The Office established under subsection (a) shall be headed by a Director who shall be selected by the Secretary and shall report directly to the Assistant Secretary for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services.
Mary Anne Nielsen, the Diagnostic Center North’s (DCN) director, shared a new reference web page that includes several links that provide more information between IDEA and its 2004 reauthorization. She says “A reference web page for the re-authorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA),http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/lr/ideareathztn.asp, was created with links to some important research and training references and resources on the new law. The IDEA is the primary federal program that authorizes state and local aid for special education and related services for children with disabilities”. Be sure to link to sites listed in the resource for additional information, i.e., CEC, No Child Left Behind Guide, and other question and answer sites.
Regarding the second part of this question, I have addressed resources that include best practices in a previous Ask a Specialist. Go tohttp://www.askaspecialist.ca.gov/archives/2005/transition/Mar_2005.htm.
Now, for your last question. Yes, we still provide trainings on Transition topics. Ms. Nielsen is now taking requests for 2005-05 trainings, so you need to contact her if you have a specific interest. Go to:
Hope this information is helpful.
Advice on planning to transfer from a community college to a state university.
I am currently a high school senior with a learning disability and plan to graduate in June 2006. My plans are to enter a community college and transfer to a state university after two or more years. My resource teacher is helping me gather information about different community colleges and recently attended one of your trainings. She suggested I ask you for help and some direction. This assignment is part of my research and writing grade in English. Thank you for any ideas you can share with me.
What a great assignment! I am impressed that your teacher is encouraging you to participate in planning your transition to what we call “post-secondary education.” In addition, not only are you completing an English assignment and gathering information about your future aspirations, but also you are developing self-determination/self-advocacy skills.
Use the following questions to help gather information:
- What are the differences between your high school and your future community college’s environments, class schedules, expectations, and direct support from teachers? You now live in a protected and supportive environment with a resource teacher, parent and Individual Education Plan (IEP) team back up.
- What is the number of students in your high school resource program, 10, 20, etc? Many community college classrooms may have up to 100 or more!
- How much and what kind of study time is available for each of your community college classes vs. what you have now? Right now, you may be able to work on assignments in a study hall or the resource room for one class period.
- Does your future community college offer the same accommodations written in your Individual Education Plan (IEP), e.g., extra time to rewrite lecture notes, read materials, and use technology like a calculator or spell check? If not, know that many students with learning disabilities who attend community college have a 504 Plan. No idea what that is? Visit this web site with your parents and/or teacher for information on 504 Plans, http://www.dcn-cde.ca.gov/504/504_index.htm.
- How does the community college provide support services when compared to your assistance from your special education resource teacher? I do not know which community college you are considering, however, here is a website with a list of community colleges http:www.cccco.edu/find/alphabetical.htm. Click on this website to find information about the Student Disabilities Support Services Programs.
- How often will your community college teacher provide you feedback on your assignments and grades? Remember, college teachers or professors have a huge number of students and may not be available when you need them!
- What is your learning style (auditory, visual, hands-on, or a combination of two or all three of these)? Well, college teachers typically lecture non-stop and expect students to analyze information on their own. You may have to feel your way through class material unless you get help from the college disability support services center.
- Finally, can you balance your personal life with the academic demands of college? This can be one of the biggest challenges you face! You will now be responsible for managing your time day and night!
I hope I have not scared you with these questions! You will have help from your IEP team as you plan for post-secondary educational options. Remind your IEP team that you need a realistic transition plan that helps you describe:
- Which community college you plan to attend after high school;
- What you need to do now to reach your goal;
- Who the key persons are involved in developing YOUR plan;
- Who will apply and check the transition activities and review your progress with you.
Your resource teacher may want to take a look at a book titled A Timetable for Transition Planning for Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD(Brinckerhoff, McGuire & Shaw, 2002) for ideas on how to help you develop more responsibility for your learning and academic outcomes. It includes ideas from many people who have helped motivate students like you. Please share this resource with your resource teacher.
I wish you the best in your life after high school (and on this assignment)!
Additional website for your teacher, parents, and you:
Updated resource list.
This month none of you had any pressing Transition questions, so I thought it would be helpful to provide you with an update to my resource list. In my last few trainings and classroom projects, I have shared with educators ideas and resources related to connecting California Standards and Transition activities. The participants have found the list very useful and I hope you will too. Please use and share this information with your colleagues, administrators, families, and most of all your students!
Updated Resource List for Middle and High School
COIN Series (http://www.coin3.com/special/default.asp)
Coin Educational Products 1-800-274-8515
- Career Targets ( Middle-High School levels)
- CLUE (Careers, Learning, Understanding, Exploring) (High School level)
- Basic Skills and Career Interest Survey
- Interest Assessment for Planning Post Secondary Education
Linguisystems 1-800-PRO IDEA (776-4332)
3100 4th Avenue
E. Moline , IL 61244
- Life Works: A Transition Program for High School Students (High School level) green
- Life Works: A Transition Program for High School Students (High School level) blue
(note: both of these books are more teacher-focused resources)
Meridian Education Corporation 1-800-727-5507
Children¹s Dictionary of Occupations , Hopke & Parramore
- Use at elementary school levels; also good for SH population at middle and high school.
- Appropriate for all age levels, although the pictures are geared for younger students.
Transition Series (5 books in series) :
8700 Shoal Creek Blvd.
Austin, TX 78757-6897
- Infusing Real-Life Topics into Existing Curriculum
- Self Determination Strategies (teacher strategies)
- Transitions from School to Young Adulthood
- Family Involvement in Transition Planning and Implementation
- Assessment for Transitions Planning see page 35 - good for grades 7-12;
(Lists assessment instruments and target groups)
Young Persons' Occupational Outlook Handbook
Career Kids-FYI 1-800-537-0909; Fax: (916) 624-7267
Jist Publishing, 2003, 4th edition
- Descriptions for more than 260 top jobs ( Middle-High School levels)
Transition and Standards based curriculum
SCORE – Schools of California Online Resources for Educators
(CA Web based classroom resources – connecting California’s classrooms to the world) - http://www.score.k12.ca.us
State Workplace Skills and Language Arts Standards (uses Career Choices curriculum) - http://www.academicinnovations.com/standards.htmlDevelopmental Guidance Classroom Activities
(Provides samples of grade level competency goals and objectives - Middle-High School levels)
Center on Education and Work
University of Wisconsin
964 Educational Sciences Building
Madison , Wisconsin
1-800-446-0399 or 608-263-2929
MC Comics: The Action Files , Grades 4-8 http://www.pearsonlearning.com/mcp/mc_comics.cfm
- High interest/low vocabulary books
- Accommodations Self-Assessment
(Scroll down to the accommodations worksheet)
- Disability Awareness – http://www.doe.state.in.us/exceptional/speced/independence/pdf/2004-01/TEN_WAYS_TO_SUCCEED.pdf
- National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY) http://nichcy.org
- Parents Helping Parents – http://www.php.com
- SCANS – The Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (U.S. Department of Labor) http://wdr.doleta.gov/SCANS/whatwork/whatwork.pdf
- SRI-NLTS2 (latest research in progress) - http://www.nlts2.org/gindex.html
- Transition to Adult Living: A Guide for Secondary Education http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/sr/documents/transitiongde.pdf
- When you become 18 - http://www.foundationstatebarcal.org
Finally, do not forget to visit the Diagnostic Center Northern California’s homepage at http://www.dcn-cde.ca.gov and our Ask a Specialist website athttp://www.askaspecialist.ca.gov. (look in the Transition archives for a previous question and answer –http://www.askaspecialist.ca.gov/archives/2003/transition/Dec_2003.htm - on Transition related resources)
Information on what students need to know as they transition through school.
Hi Ms. Harvell,
I am a Program Specialist/WorkAbility I Coordinator in a small school district and am collecting information that to help special education teachers prepare their students for future adult responsibilities. Can you provide some information on what students need to know as they transition through school? Thanks for your help.
I am impressed but pleased that you are taking time out of your busy schedule to do this collect this information. Realizing time is of the essence, I will get to the point. There are three basic areas which, if addressed appropriately, should help prepare students for the future. Each area is based on grade and age levels.
1. Career Awareness – focus is on what younger children (elementary school) need to learn about work. Examples include:
- What work is (produce a service or product through gainful employment to support themselves and/or a family, and contribute to society)
- Kinds of job family members perform (paying/nonpaying jobs)
- Developing good work habits (follows directions, responsible and on time, learns to work with others)
- Developing good work skills (learns organizational skills, responsible for self, takes care of materials, uses assistive devices, learns academic skills that include speaking, listening, recognizing letters, counting)
- Becoming aware of various jobs within everyday experiences (home chores, gardening/yard work, pet care)
- Learns the role of chores (teaches responsibility, working together, developing self esteem and necessary life skills)
2. Career Exploration – focus is on what middle school students need to learn about work. Examples include:
- Increased demands (organizing time for family, community and religious activities, balancing school and community activities)
- Increased responsibilities (home and community – volunteer work, paid work)
- Understands meaning of work (jobs performed by family, extended family and friends, community workers)
- Exploration (identifies vocational interests through reading, interviews, job shadowing, listening to guest speakers, going on field trips)
- Continue to develop work habits (being on time, cooperation, follows complex written and spoken instructions, manages time and space)
- Develops communication skills (articulates interests, abilities, challenges, and possible accommodations)
3. Career Preparation – focus is on competencies high school students must acquire. Examples include:
- Well developed academic skills (language arts, mathematics, communication, science)
- Understands personal values (impact on involvement with others and on the job)
- Ability to set goals (personal and vocational)
- Understands resources and how to use them (allocate time, materials, money, etc.)
- Established interpersonal skills (teams with others, sociable, works with difference kinds of people)
- Seeks acquisition of information (evaluates, uses, organizes, and maintains information and data; communicates with and uses computers)
- Respects equipment and materials (selects, uses, maintains low to high technology)
- Developed thinking skills (can think, problem solve, and make informed decisions)
- Flexible, self reliant (average to high levels of self esteem)
- Correlates interest with academic and career options (aware of skills, abilities and values necessary for success and future independence)
- Developed job seeking and work experience (search skills and volunteer and/or paid work)
Some of these competences, if you will, may seem unrealistic but should be used as a gauge or yardstick so students acquire the necessary skills to be successful in their adult lives. Refer to the following web sites for further competences that support academic standards and career learning.
Introducing disability awareness as part of developing self-advocacy skills.
I teach a high school special day class and am focusing on developing self-advocacy skills. As a part of this process, I would like to introduce the subject of disability awareness. Could you give me some tips on how to proceed?
Thank you for asking about this area. I have had up close and personal experiences engaging students and teachers on this topic and will gladly share what I know with you.
I like to begin by asking students to respond to different questions about the term “disability.” Brainstorming is an effective way to help students share what they know without worrying about being right or wrong. Make sure to establish a few ground rules for the brainstorming activity, e.g., comments must be focused on topic, no laughing at others, etc. I usually ask a series of questions to start the brainstorming process. NOTE: Always capture those instructional moments, such as use of unfamiliar vocabulary. After the brainstorming, ask someone to read the definition of the word disability from the dictionary for more clarification.
The following questions have generated interactive discussions, but you can definitely add others:
- How would you describe the word disability?
- Do you know anyone with a disability?
- Do you have a disability? What is it called?
- Can you name other types of disabilities? (responses could be used in the activity below)
- What are accommodations? Do you have any and what are they?
- How do they help you in succeed in class, at work, and in other environments?
You will find that your students will offer very profound comments. For example, one student shared with his classmates that “He did not like the word disability and if he had to describe himself, would use a more positive word like ABILITY”. This certainly provided a teachable moment for me as the class expanded on this statement.
After your discussion, you might want to have your students complete the following activity: Good disability vs. bad disability. This is an exercise where your students are encouraged to ”choose” which disability they would most prefer, and which they would least prefer. A general discussion (vocabulary, directions, etc.) should occur prior to your students completing this activity. After the activity, discuss student responses.
A chart could include (you could change):
|Severe and Multiple|
Once you completed various activities on disability awareness, have the students write a short essay about their own disability. Hopefully, your students will now have the “facts” for this writing task. You could use this as a writing assignment in which you address your Language Arts standards and the area Transition simultaneously.
Just remember during your activities that, if you take the role of “facilitator” rather than “teacher”, your students will be more comfortable and open during the discussion on disability. I have included a few disability resources for you to explore.