Does your child have a moderate to severe disability? Are you concerned about your child with autism’s life after school? Would you like your child to receive vocational services so that they may be employed as an adult? This article will discuss importance of vocational skills for all children with disabilities, so that they can be employed as an adult.The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) states that 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.So according to IDEA it requires that students be given services that will prepare them for…employment. As an advocate for over 15 years I have had many special education personnel deny children vocational services, that I was advocating for. I have also heard from many other parents whose child was also denied vocational services.The first place to start is to request, in writing, a Functional Vocational Assessment. This assessment will help to determine what particular skills that your child has, and how those skills can be used in a work setting. This assessment should be done by a person that has experience performing these assessment, and should have experience with children or adults with disabilities.The information to be gathered is to include the child’s work and school history, learning style, work related skills, work endurance, academics, or functional academics, and the ability to follow directions. Information that is also important is your child’s communication skills, social skills, interaction skills, behavior difficulties, mobility, medical needs, fine and gross motor skills, transportation, and your child’s functional skills.Another important area to be determined is your child’s preferences and strengths. You may have to figure out what your child enjoys, if they are not able to tell you themselves.The information is received from as many different people as is possible, so that the assessment will be complete. The person performing the assessment should also observe your child in their school environment. This is to allow the person to get to know your child, and make their report more effective.After the vocational assessment is complete, the person who conducted the evaluation should write a detailed report. Also, have the person participate in the Individual Educational Plan (IEP) meeting to discuss the results, by telephone. That way, you and the special education personnel can ask any questions to clarify what skills your child needs to be taught to be able to get a job.At the IEP meeting you should write up specific Vocational services, that your child will receive to help them prepare for a job. Also to be discussed, is what skills your child has or needs to be taught, to be job ready. Don’t forget to write vocational goals also. The skills should be in writing, with goals on teaching the skills.Remember to consider skills that your child already has. For example: If your child knows how to do some minor housework that can be used to get a job in a restaurant or hotel. My daughter Angelina was taught to fold towels, in her high school community based functional curriculum class. The next year she had a job folding towels in the high school pool area. Another student I know used to take out the garbage at home, and was given a job in the school emptying the garbage.Vocational skills are critical for children with disabilities, no matter how severe the disability. Children or adults with job skills, can work in their community, as well as become an active member of that community. My daughter Angelina has a severe disability, and works at a local college part time. She loves her job, and the students at the college love her too! She is an active and happy member of our community.
When it comes to your child’s education, you should be thinking about putting together the money they will need for college at birth. College tuition is only going to go up over the next seventeen to eighteen years, and you want to have a plan in place to pay for your child’s education. Here’s a simple option you can use to get started.You can begin by opening an educational savings account. You can deposit up to $2000 annually per child into such an account. This is a combined total, so any money from grandparents or other interested parties is placed in this account and cannot exceed $2000 a year. The money is not pre-tax, but it can be withdrawn tax-free as long as it is spent on educational expenses.Educational expenses are determined to be books, fees, supplies, tuition, room and board, and anything directly associated with your child’s education as long as he or she is at least a part time student.If, for some reason, all of the funds in the account are not used, you can have the account pay out to the beneficiary up to age thirty. Penalties and taxes will attach to this accommodation. Your other alternative, should you not use up all the educational funds, is to roll over the account to the next child coming of college age.If you begin this sort of plan upon the birth of your child, you should realize more than enough growth from your investment to put your child through school and tap out the rest of the fund as a fine graduation present. While the money you deposit into this type of fund is not tax- deductible, its growth is. As long as the funds are all used for educational expenses, none of the profit your account realizes through investment is taxable. This is a nice way to prepare for your child’s future.There are credit card programs that pay bonuses into children’s college funds as a promotion and often companies and corporations will make donations into an employee’s child’s fund as well. Anything you can do to help your child’s education fund grow now will be a savings and security for the future.To help you gainfully secure that future, you might want to talk to a financial planner about preparing the way for your child’s college education. It is never too early to start saving for your child’s future.
The US educational system is run like a government entity. In reality, it resembles the services industry. In a business that provides services, there is a deliverable for the customer. In public schools, the customer is the student and teachers are the front line workers who provide the service. If schools adopted business practices, they would ask the customer: what would you like? In business, when clients do not believe they received what they paid for, they take their dollars elsewhere. As taxpayers, we pay for a service from the school districts. Therefore, we should ask: what is the deliverable for our children?The deliverable is success, not retention of information. The teacher’s number one job is to make students successful. In a business, teachers would be responsible for understanding what resources are needed to ensure they make customers happy. However, in today’s schools, the politicians dictate what resources are needed to make students successful. In fact, politicians even tell school districts what subjects to teach and when certain subjects should no longer be taught. For example, in the state of Florida, English grammar is no longer taught after the fifth grade. Is the fifth grade sufficient time for a student to have command of their native language?As you can imagine, as in business, the front line workers become frustrated when leadership does not listen to their requests for appropriate resources to service clients. In school districts throughout the nation, the frustration continues to escalate.While teachers may temporarily have their hands tied because of government policies, there are a number of effective tactics that can be introduced to the classroom to ensure the success of their students/clients. Changing the approach of forcing students to memorize other people’s ideas. Instead, help them bridge the gap between book knowledge and practical application. This will force them to think through problems and situations, instead of choosing multiple choice. One way to do that is to organize students in roundtable discussions. Create case studies from examples in books and have them apply what they learn to real time situations. More importantly, the teacher should only facilitate the discussions. Empower the students to take turns leading the conversations. It would be the teacher’s job to prepare each student the day before for the lesson. If the students lead, they will have to read. And their peers will pay attention. This approach fosters innovation and leadership.In addition, bring professionals to the classroom. They should not be motivational speakers. They should talk to the students about how to bridge the gap between what they learn in school and how that knowledge is utilized in the workforce. This helps students become better decision makers for career choices.In well-run businesses, leadership creates the direction and the vision. From there, they get out of the way and allow employees to do their job. As conditions change and requests for different resources are made, leadership makes it available. To enhance success, leadership brings all stakeholders together to discuss how to increase the value proposition. In schools, that would mean teachers, students, parents, legislators, and suppliers of educational materials would come together and talk about how to make students more successful.For those schools that are already taking this approach, thumbs up to you. For the rest, it is purely a matter of changing the mindset for why schools exist.As other countries become developed, they will make it increasingly difficult for nations to compete without citizens with a world-class education. To avoid this dilemma, it is time to have a single-minded commitment that focuses on making students successful.