What is functional about functional skills?

For many children with disabilities, learning life skills is a vital part of their education. Patrice Thompson and colleagues tell us why

WHILE MOST CHILDREN successfully make the transition into adult life, many are at risk of experiencing difficulty during this period. Even greater difficulty has been reported for young people with disabilities. Therefore, students with disabilities, and particularly those identified as having an intellectual disability, should be taught functional skills within school to help them make the transition. Functional skills are the skills set needed for individuals to function independently in their environment, for example, independent living skills, daily living skills, and vocational skills. Mastering these skills is important in becoming successful and independent adults.

What we know
● Functional skills help individuals become successful and independent adults.
● Functional literacy allows access to other academic areas.
● Teaching self-determination includes teaching skills essential for potential success.
● Employment and recreational skills can help children with disabilities learn skills necessary for successful adult outcomes.
● Functional skills may be viewed as a subset of transition which is necessary for successful post-school outcomes.

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October 2013