Special Education: What Does IDEA Say About Functional Skills, and How Will It Help My Child?

By: JoAnn Collins

This article will help parents of children with disabilities learn IDEA regulations about functional skills. Also discussed is how to use these regulations to benefit your child's education.

Are you the parent of a child, with autism or some other disability,
that thinks your child may benefit from functional skill training?
Would you like to know what the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) requires in relation to functional skills? Would
you like parenting tips on using IDEA requirements to help your child
receive functional skill training? This article is for you; it will
discuss IDEA requirements, and how you can use them to advocate for
functional skills training for your child.

The purpose of IDEA is to ensure that all children with disabilities
have available to them a free appropriate public education that
emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet
their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment,
and independent living. Education is more than reading, writing, and
math; it also includes functional skills to help children with
disabilities live a full and rewarding life. This is especially true
for children with autism or intellectual disabilities.

IDEA requires each child's individual educational plan (IEP) to
contain a statement of present levels of academic achievement, and
functional performance. School personnel should give you objective
information (testing) each year, about your child's academic and
functional performance.

Do not accept teacher subjective observations and grades (also
subjective), to determine if your child is making academic and
functional progress. Around Christmas time ask that testing be
performed in the areas of academics and functional skills, in January,
so that these results can be used at the annual IEP meeting. Also ask
for copies of the testing at least 14 days before the meeting, so that
you will be able to be an equal participant in the meeting.

IDEA also requires that the IEP contains a statement of measurable
annual goals, including academic and functional goals. Since you asked
for testing at Christmas time, and hopefully have received the results
before the IEP meeting, you will have some knowledge of your child's
academic and functional needs.

Write a few academic and functional goals, and make sure they are
measurable. In other words, how will you know when your child has made
the goal? Bring the list with you to your child's IEP meeting. Share
your input on annual academic and functional goals with the IEP team.

By understanding what the federal law IDEA states, about functional
skills, you can use the information to ensure that your child is
tested in this area, and has annual goals developed for their IEP, if
needed. Functional skills will help your child become as independent
as possible as an adult, and live a more fulfilled life!

JoAnn Collins is the mother of two adults with disabilities, and has
helped families of children with disabilities navigate the special
education system, as an advocate, for over 15 years. She is a
presenter and author of the book "Disability Deception; Lies
Disability Educators Tell and How Parents Can Beat Them at Their Own
Game." The book has a lot of resources and information, to help
parents fight for an appropriate education for their child. For a free
E newsletter entitled "The Special Education Spotlight" send an E mail
to: JoAnn@disabilitydeception.com. For more information on her book,
testimonials, and a link to more free articles go to:

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