Preparing Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities for Life Skills

Authored by: Stacy K. Dymond

Handbook of Special Education

Print publication date:  April  2011
Online publication date:  May  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415800716
eBook ISBN: 9780203837306
Adobe ISBN: 9781136869624


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Prior to 1980, much of the curricula developed for students with significant cognitive disabilities (SCD) were based on a bottom up, developmental model. Skills were selected for instruction that matched the cognitive functioning level of the student. Prevailing theories of human development at the time suggested that all children must pass through the same developmental milestones in order to be capable of learning more advanced skills. As a result, students who failed to master skills at a particular developmental level were relegated to repeat those skills until they were mastered. Skills typically taught to students with SCD focused on cognition, self-help, motor skills, communication, and social skills. The drawbacks to this type of curriculum were that as students with SCD grew older, they did not learn the skills needed to function in settings with their same-aged peers or participate in valued adult life activities.

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