Tuesday, May 19, 2009

What's In Your Crystal Ball?

I need your opinions on something.

Once a child with disabilities reaches middle school and beyond, schools place a bigger emphasis on vocational skills - preparing the children for jobs once school is over. IDEA 2004 definitely supports that:

In “Findings” of IDEA 2004 (Section 1400(c)), Congress found that “30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by having high expectations for such children,” educating them in the regular classroom so they can “meet developmental goals and, to the maximum extent possible, the challenging expectations that have been established for all children and be prepared to lead productive and independent adult lives, to the maximum extent possible.” (Section 1400(c)(5)(A))

But how does a school district and an IEP team determine what are appropriate vocational skills for a student? I would like to know your experiences, and if your child is too young for you to have addressed this issue yet, what are you expectations for the time when your child is old enough to discuss transition and vocational skills?

Here are some examples:

Do you feel it is appropriate for students with disabilities to have jobs in the school such as wiping tables and chairs in the cafeteria - or delivering mail and newspapers to the teachers - or cleaning up a classroom at the end of the school day? How about sorting utensils or putting toothbrush holders together? Or, learning how to use simple tools like a screwdriver and hammer? Would you like to see your child take care of plants in the school building or clean up/feed pets like hamsters or fish in the school?

Has your child had a great vocational training experience while in school? If you child is older and out of school, did the skills taught in the school contribute to their success as a young adult? Or, did you feel like your child was set afloat at the end of his/her school career with no skills to support productive employment?

What are your dreams for your child as they related to adulthood, employment and independent living? Do you feel your school team shares and understands your dreams?

And finally, are you frightened what the future holds for your child with a disability? I am, and that is why I need help with all these questions...


mommy~dearest said...

I am extremely frightened about my child's future... which is why I'm glad you blog! My son is only 7, so I have much to learn from your experiences with your children!

I don't know how I feel about kids having their vocational training at school, doing things that may set them further apart from their peers. If GenEd kids don't wipe down cafeteria tables (even as favors to school staff), I don't know how comfortable I would feel if it were my child's "job", even for training purposes.

I do strongly believe (as I know you do as well) that the parents should be involved in determining what are "appropriate vocational skills". YOU know what your child is capable of. The school knows what the child is capable of at school. A child may be seem to be at one level, but you know that at home, they do their chores etc.

You've witnessed that yourself with Ashley's communication. You had to provide video proof that she is capable of Signing, and that's why it's important for her to have a fluent terp.

It's probably a good thing my lunch hour is over 'cuz now I don't have enough time to pull out my soapbox. ;)

Candice said...

I don't feel comfortable with doing things that general ed students are not doing. I would not agree with cleaning up after the general ed children for many reasons, the most poignant is probably the impression that it gives the general ed children and how that would make my child feel. If they are expected to clean up after people, if my child going to feel like that is all that she will be capable of doing?

I do believe in teaching them how to manage money and going on field trips to different jobs so that they can interview the person to find out how they got the job and what skills it required.

I think that it is our job at home to teach our children to clean and do those "jobs" so that they will not think that cleaning is their capacity.

Rebecca is only in 4th grade, but has went to the zoo to learn about being a zookeeper and we have taken her other places ourselves to learn about different jobs (mostly with animals because that is what she is interested in). Especially when we encounter a Deaf or blind person that is working, we stop to take extra time to talk to those people about their jobs.

I think a lot of the responsibility falls on us as parents to lead our children into their vocation. The school can teach them the skills that they will need and educate them about different jobs that may be available for them.

I think that janitor is shooting too low for my child and I would be upset if that was the only vocation that the school was teaching her.

Jane said...

I've seen too much unemployment with sped kids! They are not being prepared for adulthood, mostly because the IEP team never plans for it.

I don't think cleaning up after the other kids is appropriate. I don't think any jobs that are normally done by paid custodians should be done by the sped kids.

One of the best things I see done at the elementary school level is using public transportation to go on field trips. Most of the kids ride the school bus to school or are driven by a parent. Riding a public bus is a very real way to teach them a skill they will need.

At E's high school the sped kids run a balloon business during lunchtime. They take the orders and fill them during the last period of the day. I like the idea of them earning and managing their income and the service they provide is appreciated by the other students.

Mrs. C said...

Hello! I think that custodial work is noble, and that janitors should be proud of the work they do to help the community. But it is a "servant's" job, and my first reaction to reading your post was that they were setting the (hypothetical?) child up as a "servant" before his peers.

To me, IMO, the child is different enough without being told to wipe up after his friends. It opens him up to all sorts of teasing and purposeful messes. I don't know how to say what's on my mind very well, but it unsettles me to read this post.

My largest concern for my son G (autistic, age 14) is his ANGER. Hey, he could be a great bagger or a driver or landscaper or whatever if he were trained to do the job... IF he can keep his anger under control.

The school can't/won't help with this as much as I'd like, but then again, maybe I am thinking they can do something they can't? I don't even know so much what is available. Let's face it: it isn't as though they're going to tell us about the wonderful, expensive things that are available out there that they don't want us to have. We might get ideas in our heads that we're entitled to something. :]

God bless!!