One question that has come up is whether to use all content areas for all of the students. For example, some of my students do not typically use the phone due to difficulties with intelligibility. Is it appropriate to skip various portions of the Phone Skills lessons?
Great question! You do not need to use all content areas for each student. For a student who is unintelligible or difficult to understand, the Phone Skills section might not be appropriate. However, if your student uses an augmentative communication device, perhaps they can learn to make phone calls with their device. I had a student in the past, who used a Pathfinder to communicate. We taught her to make phone calls to schedule her own transportation and check the status of her rides. With the delay in programming her device in real time, she would consistently get hung up on. We quickly realized that we needed her to first pre-program a message that said, “I use a communication device to communicate. Please don’t hang up on me!” This allowed her the time she needed to be able to communicate using the phone. It took some time and creativity to get all the bugs worked out, but she eventually learned how to independently handle her own transportation. It also gave her mother the confidence and security to allow her to go places independently. Given her fine motor difficulties, we relied on voice commands (from her device) and speaker phone.
Another content area that is often skipped is Writing Skills. Some students may not be able to hold a pencil, and therefore should not be working on Writing Skills. That is, unless they are in early elementary school and may learn to hold a pencil or learn how to use an adaptive device to write. Before deciding not to teach a particular skill, you might consider other possibilities. For example, with a student who doesn’t hold a pencil, instead of teaching them to write, what about using assistive technology on the computer to accomplish a similar task?
On the flip side, some students have mastered certain content areas and therefore, don’t need to work on those skills; however, be aware of the Curriculum Flow Chart and look for sections that indicate Yes/No, which means those skills are still important to embed somewhere in the student’s day or week. Most of these skills are in content areas like Budgeting and Banking or Functional Reading. These are skills that, although we may have them, they are difficult to master! It can be helpful to continually practice different scenarios.
It is up to you as the teacher, together with your student’s family and the rest of the IEP team to determine which content areas are appropriate and which ones might not be a good use of your students time. It absolutely should be individualized!