Book Title: Life Skills Speech and Language Enrichment Activities: Volume 1: English and Spanish Lesson Plans for Children with Significant Impairments
Publisher: Speech Therapy for the Life Skills Classroom
Author: Patricia Villarreal
Freeing Ourselves from the Challenges of the Life Skills Classroom. For those of us who have had the opportunity to work in a life skills classroom we know that it can be the most rewarding and most challenging experience. However, serving children with severe impairments is almost always heavily weighted towards the challenging end of the spectrum. But does it have to be? What makes life skills intervention so difficult? It is the fact that we can rarely produce therapy materials that can be used again and again because each activity has to be individually modified for each individual student. The degree of severity across clients differs so radically due to augmentative communication, hearing loss, low vision, and reduced mobility. Let’s change the way we do therapy. In this book you will find powerful therapy materials that can be re-employed each year by maintaining the curriculum based theme and adapting the modifications and augmentative communication support. We need to collectively make a pact to retain resources and improve upon our intervention so that our field can move forward. That is what this book is designed to do. In our work as speech-language pathologists, we have found great challenges in working with the students in life skills classrooms. These classrooms, also referred to as Functional Life Skills, Functional Communication Classes, Structured Learning Centers, and Low-Incidence Classrooms, are generally self-contained classes in which students are segregated from the general education population for a portion or all of their day in order to receive the support that they need to be successful in their community. Students in elementary life skills classrooms are generally between the ages of 6 and 12 years of age and they have one or more of the following disabilities: orthopedic impairment (OI) other health impairment (OHI) intellectual disability (ID) emotional disturbance (ED) learning disability (LD) speech impairment (SI) autism (AU) traumatic brain injury (TBI) auditory impairment (AI) visual impairment (VI) Although these children have a severe level of impairment, it is our responsibility as professionals to expose them to age-appropriate material and content regardless of their level of functioning (ASHA, 2010). The seeming disconnect between the rigor of the academic curriculum and the overall communication levels of these children can be overwhelming. Language skills are the foundation of learning and it is our job to bridge the gap between a student’s current language skills and the way academic material is presented so that students are able to learn new concepts and participate to their fullest potential in the academic setting.