Teaching Social and Personal Skills to Exceptional Students Essay

Students who have learning or behavioural disabilities need and deserve special attention where it comes to the curriculum as well as academic training.

They need to be exposed to challenging learning which is within their scope and which will help them come at par with their colleagues. Our community school offers programs within and outside the classroom, where children and students with special needs are given special help and remedial lessons. The atmosphere is one of absolute support and there is a program of regular assessments, continuous vocational training and development and feedback to and from the parents (Heward, 2009).As part of the instruction of these students, a high level of expectations is developed so as to make them feel that they are capable of accomplishing big things if only they put in the required effort. They are provided with the right kind of support to enable them to enhance their skills of decision making, critical thinking and problem analysis and solving.

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They are first given tasks which involve basic numeric and language skills which are later developed into more advanced skills through more challenging course work. This enables these students to be able to handle complex situations within as well as outside the walls of the school (Hoffman, 2008).Previously it was though that students with special needs should be isolated from the classroom and just taught basic skills. However, this view has now changed with more and more critical thinking and learning courses being incorporated into special education programs so as to provide an all round education to these students to enable them to face the world.Also, in our school, it is understood that different students learn at their own pace and in their own style. For these students, the process of learning is constructed by their own skills and abilities. Students develop their own outlook on the things they are taught, and the teachers therefore play an active role in shaping this building process and providing a diverse and rich source of information from which a context can be developed (Alexander, 2006).Assessments are used at all levels to carefully judge and access a student’s needs and progress.

Specific training programs can then be developed to aid students with special needs. These initial assessments also help students deliver well in class which acts as a boost to their self esteem. They are made a part of the regular classrooms and are provided additional help and support.  They are also enrolled to participate in a number of extracurricular activities including sports, volunteer work and recreational activities (Heward, 2009).An emphasis is placed on how much a student has learnt rather than on how well he can take an exam. These include demonstration of skills through projects and exhibitions as well as developing a portfolio of work (Hoffman, 2008).

All challenging concepts are taught with the aid of multimedia devices etc in order to enhance experiential learning. Also, no program is rigid and applicable to all students. Flexibility in the program is a key feature as teachers are able to mould their teaching style and curriculum based on the abilities of the student.Any accommodations needs or special requirements are fulfilled by the Office of Disability services. These are also based on flexible services as each student is considered unique in his own way.As vocational assistance, special training is awarded from professional in the community who come together to provide extended support to needy individuals. Students are taught in a real world scenario so that they can gain maximum exposure (Alexander, 2006).

There is a school to work transition course which enables student to gain the right kind of training to step into a particular vocation and stand on their own feet in t his fast paced world. This focuses on enhancing productivity, boosting morale and developing the right skills needed to face the world. Vocational assessments are carried out to evaluate skills, and abilities. Students are allowed to rotate between different careers before choosing the one appropriate for them (Hoffman, 2008).In a hospital, choosing workers with disabilities is a means of providing good quality service as well as enhancing diversity in the workforce. Resources are located through vocational training for special needs institutes. Training programs are carried out to further develop the skills of young people chosen from such facilities. After initial training, workers were able to do jobs like placing supplied in the ER.

Other departments also started recruiting such individuals and they were hence trained and facilitated to carry out services like couriers, mail delivery and packaging etc. Career coaches are hired for specific training programs and students are given a thorough overview so they can meet their professional needs. At supermarkets and stores, individuals are chosen based in their abilities to navigate through stores, communicate with people, do simple calculations and keep the aisles clear. They are provided with special training which continues during the job as well and feedback is used to improve and provide further support and training (Hoffman, 2008).As ushers and waiters as well as for help in the kitchen, as well as in  bank jobs and many workers are chosen in from vocational training centres for people with special needs in order to enhance diversity and also to cater to customers with special needs (Ellison, 2002).In order to improve the role of disabled people in society and also to enhance the diversity of the workforce, my bank is looking to recruiting people with special needs as part of our workforce.

The main problem is finding these people with the right skills and decision making abilities. For this purpose we recently attended a meeting on Diversity Recruiting where we discussed issues related to diversity training, recruitment and selection. It was decided that the most suitable places for advertisement of our vacancies would be groups of professionals with certain learning or behavioural disabilities and on community based college programs (Ellison, 2002).However, the problem arises when there are very few professional groups and a very small number of universities and colleges which have organizations for students with disabilities. Hence, a large number of people are missing out on their chances of employment due to not being adequately represented through any organization.Our bank has therefore decided to take an active part in the establishment of organizations which will help these individuals come together, further develop their skills and enhance their role and participation in society.

Employment opportunities would then to advertise and announced in these various groups in different areas and suitable candidates would then go through an interview process and regular procedures before being recruited.This would help in the development of a network where resources can be shared and candidates can be helped through the recruitment process through career counselling and job search facilities.A major problem in recruiting disabled individuals is effective interviewers who can make them feel comfortable and welcome and at the same time assess their abilities to be a part of t he workforce. Interviewers need to be trained to acquire the relevant etiquette and communication skills in order to deal effectively with people. As most people have very little experience in dealing with people with certain disabilities, Training interviewers may sometime turn out to be a daunting task.Websites online can be used o guide interviewers about the legal issues involved in dealing with people with disabilities. They must use appropriate language, not come across as demeaning or discriminatory and they should give an equal chance to all employees alike. Sometimes, managers with disabilities are hired directly by the senior executives and these managers are then allowed to further the recruitment the process.

Questions related to the disability are not allowed to be asked clearly, and interviewers must be discreet while trying to obtain details about such issues. Also, some direct questions like ‘will you be able to perform the role of this job without any problems’ is a legal question.However, any questions regarding the performance of regular basic activities are not allowed. For example, it is illegal to ask, ‘can u walk’.In order to understand whether employees are capable of performing their jobs, we now offer conditional employment to such individuals. The employees are selected, allowed to work for a while, and are made to sit through various assessments. After employees have cleared these they may become a regular part of the workforce, however, such treatment is then used for all individuals alike to prevent any sort of discrimination. Also, all information about individuals is kept strictly confidential so as to prevent any breach of a person’s basic rights.

Functional assessments aim to highlight certain solutions to problems people face in their everyday lives due to learning or behavioural disabilities. It enables mentors and future employers to get a window into a person’s life and to understand what causes certain behaviour and how certain issues can be resolved. This in effect results in the establishment of a flexible support plan which can guide the individual through various stages of his life. These assessments basically aim at understanding why people carry out certain behaviours and the motives behind them. These could include attention seeking, or attention avoidance; the acquiring of the basic necessities of life like food and water; giving in to internal motivation which often proves to be self-reinforcing- this involve activities like rocking back and forth repeatedly or clapping the hands etc (Farrell, 2000).These particular behaviours are then recorded. Before carrying out the functional assessment the behaviour must be defined and effectively recorded.

This definition serves as e reference for future understanding of triggers which stimulate certain behaviours.  These are also effectively recorded and they can be developed further to understand the consequences of certain behaviours.Based on this understanding behaviour plans are developed which are aimed at forming programs, plan and strategies to help people develop the required skills for different vocations and to live a normal life in general (Farrell, 2000).While on one hand functional assessment provides certain benefits like better understanding and support, it may lead to greater discrimination as special treatment is being meted out to these individuals (Mitchell, 2005).

The school carries out an ABC assessment, which includes an antecedent, behaviour and consequence table for functional assessment. This is then used to gauge the specific needs of different children. These are carried out by experts from different support organizations.

Separate support programs are then developed from the results if these tests and they are used to provide better facilities and greater help to students with special needs (Seligman, Benjamin, 2009).Educating students with special needs involves not only going through books on  various subjects but involves a whole program to develop and enhance their skills and ability to perform well at work and at home. This helps them in developing the skills, and attitudes which enables them to deal with different situations and to integrate well into society (Haring & Schiefelbusch, 2006).Research has shown a high level of success for co-operative learning programs where group instruction, individual roles and accountability are assimilated into a team where members learn from each others’ mistakes and develop skills of social interaction. Co operative learning help improve self esteem as well as a reliance on a person’s own capability.Peer tutoring is a development of the co-operative learning program where teachers with disabilities are used to teach and guide students facing similar problems.

Also, students without disabilities are asked to play the role of a tutor to teach disabled students. This has enhanced learning as well as social interactions and acceptance (Mitchell, 2005).Team teaching enhances collaboration among individuals and helps in developing problem solving skills. Teachers from across different backgrounds come together to foster a collaborative learning environment which fosters socialization (Haring & Schiefelbusch, 2006).

Community based learning as a kind of learning in the actual circumstances and the general setting of the world. As many students have problems adapting to different and new situations, community based learning gives them an opportunity to learn in real life settings, for example using simple math while shopping (Seligman, Benjamin, 2009).Generally for students with certain special needs vocational learning as well as the development of certain basic skills helps them navigate their way through various stages of their lives and also enable them to provide for themselves (Bulgren, 2003).For many individuals, having a clear understanding of their disability is one of the first steps towards improving their lifestyle and towards developing the necessary skills required to face the world and to participate in everyday practices and activities.

Knowing their own strengths and weaknesses enables people to understand what all they are capable of and also what inhibits them from taking part in normal everyday practices. However, a disclosure of strengths and weaknesses also results in a great deal of misconceptions arising among many people which also need to be dealt with appropriately.Building strong social and personal relations is the key to developing high self esteem and in understanding one’s own self with respect to others. Also, many people face problems of planning and beginning tasks.

These prevent them from making effective decisions in their lives (Mitchell, 2005).In most cases, direct instruction can be used to enhance self determination. These training programs are affiliated with counselling Associations which enable students to undergo counselling sessions and training sessions. Academic support classes and career training programs are also an effective way to enhance understanding about one’s own self and achieve direction in one’s life.In addition to these, families and educators need to be partners in enabling students with special needs to gain the opportunity to understand themselves and to express themselves in various scenarios (Haring & Schiefelbusch, 2006).In order to teach students skills to deal with situations like placing an order in a restaurant, they are helped though video aids to guide them through the process and to train them.

The process is first defined and then divided into a series of steps. These include: wait to be seated, politely answer the hostess’ questions, follow her to the table, wait for the waiter and go over the menu, place an order, take part in a table conversation (Bulgren, 2003).Also, students are taught the meaning and reason behind carrying out each step and they are made to practice through interactive video games or real life situations. Each correct step is rewarded as a form of positive reinforcement and they are presented with different responses to guide behaviour in differing situations.

References:Hoffman A, (2008), Educational Resource Information Center (U.S. Department of Education), International Journal of Special Education Vol 23Haring N.G, Schiefelbusch R.

L, (2006), Teaching Special Children, McGraw-HillMitchell K, (2005), Cyber therapy conference, Interactive Media Institute. USABrinker R.P & Thorpe M.

E, (2004), Integration of severely handicapped students and the proportion of IEP objectives achieved. Exceptional Children, 51, 168-175.Bulgren J A, (2003) Examining the instructional contexts of students with learning disabilities, Council for Exceptional ChildrenDunlap G., DePerczel M., Clarke S.

, Wilson D, Wright S., White R., & Gomez A, (2004), Choice making to promote adaptive behaviour for students with emotional and behavioural challenges, Journal of Applied Behaviour Analysis, 27, 505-518.Ellison, L. (2002), Using multiple intelligences to set goals. Educational Leadership, 50, 69-72.Farrell, P, (2000), The impact of research on developments in inclusive education. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 4, 153-162.

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