Unit IV: Educational Program (Intermediate & Vocational)

1. Academic skills

2. Social and Communication skills

3. Self care and Domestic skills

4. Vocational skills

5. Leisure and Recreational skills





1. Academic skills

Special education is designed to prepare students for life beyond the classroom setting. The teaching of vocational skills is intended to set up the student for success after secondary education. Through vocational skills training, students will learn how to prepare for a job, find a job, apply for a job and excel at a job.

From as early as elementary school, a special needs student is preparing for future employment by learning pre-vocational skills. These job-readiness skills help students to focus on the tasks at hand, use their time to their benefit, interact with fellow students and faculty and follow directions.

Pre-vocational skills for students with disabilities include:


2. Social and Communication skills

Social behaviour of the students plays a vital role in their vocational habilitation. Limitations in social skills of the disabled students form the major barrier in the process of integration. During the pre-vocational stage, students are expected to behave appropriately in different settings, use public places appropriately, be able to seek permission for using belongings of others and should be able to participate in social functions independently. All these behaviours require studentís competency in language and communication.

In school, focus on:

Home activities can include:

In addition to developing appropriate social behaviours, we have to reduce the socially inappropriate behaviour through behaviour management techniques

Interpersonal skills that are required in the workplace include:

       Ability to apply for jobs, follow up with managers

       Capability to interact socially, or people skills

       Ability to communicate affectively

       Capacity to empathize with others

       Proficiency to manage stress, anger

       Ability to use technology

       Capability to follow instructions

       Capability to negotiate, handle conflict

       Ability to accept responsibility, criticism

       Ability to cope with change, adversity

       Understanding concepts like filling out paperwork, punctuality

       Ability to be assertive, cultivate confidence

       Capability to maintain organization, manage time

Functional skills that are required in the workplace include:

       Ability to communicate verbally, or by alternate means

       Physical capability to complete tasks

       Desire and proficiency to work with minimal help

       Ability to present oneself as professional, capable to work

       Capability to work independently, or as part of a unit

       Ability to commute to and from the work site, navigate sidewalks and crosswalks

Outside of the home and the workplace, all of these skills are vital. When it comes to participating in society from a social perspective, a new set of skills comes into play. Building relationships in the community, volunteering, and other activities require skills sets both functional and intellectual that for many people donít come naturally. People with special needs are often shy; developing confidence can also be a challenge that is not easily overcome.

If people with special needs develop skill sets that help them connect with others; they will participate in activities outside the home that are meaningful, and enjoyable. Studies show that people with special needs often report feeling isolated; this is a significant source of stress. Developing skills that encourage interaction reduces the chance of a person having to go it alone.

The interpersonal skills that are helpful in society include:

       Capability to choose friends

       Ability to choose activities

       Capability to contribute to conversations, activities

       Ability to listen, respond and react

The functional skills that are helpful in society include:

       Ability to travel to and from the homes, obtain transportation

       Capability to hold onto money, pay for goods or services

       Ability to navigate spaces indoors and outdoors


3. Self care and Domestic skills

Life skills range from those that are societal norms, such as self-care, to those that sustain life, such as preparing food. From a broad perspective, being adept at life skills with minimal assistance enhances a personís daily living, and overall quality of life.

The benefits of mastering essential life skills include:

       Greater potential for independent living

       Capability to obtain and maintain employment

       Potential for more satisfying relationships

       Acumen to manage a home, finances

       Ability to live a healthier life

       Proficiency to look after oneís personal needs without assistance

       Reduced dependence on government or social programs

Life skills are considered the fuel that powers life; without the ability to survive and thrive, it would be difficult to lead a productive life. Daily living requires that people complete certain tasks; these are physical in nature, intellectual, and theyíre related to a personís quality of life.

People with disabilities learn, from the time they are young, how to work within their physical and intellectual capabilities. This means two terms that many people of differing levels of ability learn to understand: Compensate and modify. When this is achieved, itís the beginning of the transition from childhood to adulthood.

Does mastering these skills mean that a person must learn to do everything on his or her own? No, it doesnít. However, a person that needs assistance must be aware of what tasks are a challenge, and be able to manage the situation.

The benefits of cultivating life skills include:

       Making friends

       Building social, professional ties

       Participating in employment

       Developing responsible behaviors

       Cultivating self-esteem, self-worth

       Fostering interests, hobbies

       Creating opportunities for independence, with or without supports

       Assuming an adult role in the community

At home is where most people take care of 90 percent of the tasks they need to complete. Itís where a person showers, sleeps, fills out an online job application, or ponders his or her next big move. In short, a personís home is their sanctuary, and a nerve center.

But managing a home is a process that requires physical skills, and intellectual acumen. Not only are self-care skills required to prepare for the day, there are the responsibilities of home upkeep. Financial obligations such as paying for repairs, paying bills, and managing money are also imperatives in terms of a functional household.

Some of the self-care skills that are required within the home, and outside of it, include:

       Personal hygiene

       Dressing and undressing

       Washing clothes, taking clothes to cleaners



At home, a person will also need to masters skills to maintain their health. These include:

       Meal planning and preparation

       Grocery shopping, choosing foods

       Eating and drinking

       Adhering to a medication schedule

       Committing to exercise, movement

       Using the phone to seek medical assistance, if needed

       Managing personal care assistants, if applicable

       Practicing first aid, safety measures

Physical skills that are needed at home include:

       Housekeeping, domestic skills

       Ability to keep up a home, or find providers

       Navigating a home, creating usability

       Entering and exiting a home

       Identify strange odors, sounds, situations

       Organizing all needed tools and objects in a way that works

Intellectual and psychological skills required to manage a home include:

       Money management, budgeting, banking

       Interviewing, interacting with attendants

       Implementing an emergency plan

       Emotional self-regulation coping alone or with guests

       Managing time

At work, many of the life skills learned will be immensely beneficial. However, interpersonal skills are an integral factor in building a successful career.

People with disabilities already face significant barriers when it comes to employment. Even if a person has worked hard to cultivate skills that are in demand in the marketplace, people with special needs still face a jobless rate of roughly 40 percent, according to several studies.

Appropriate life skills, in combination with job training and higher education, can mean the difference between making a living or depending on social programs. Because many people with disabilities are just as capable as others by using modified means to complete tasks, thereís no reason employment has to be an obstacle. The higher level of education or skill a person has, the easier he or she will find and keep gainful employment.

Techniques to promote self-care skill acquisition:

Rewards: Give rewards to the child each time they perform a self care task, or a part of a task. Rewards can be edible, social rewards, activity rewards, material rewards or even privileges. Tokens are another way to teach and reinforce self care skills. Make a chart where you add a star everyday if the child has completed the task independently. At the end of the month, the child gets a reward based of the amount of stars they got. Different children benefit from different rewards depending on their level of understanding. Use appropriate rewards. Researched-based rewards are individualized, age-appropriate, and naturally occurring in the environment. A naturally occurring reward for drinking from a cup is relieving thirst. When the child first begins to learn to use a cup, say, ďLook at you! You can drink from a cup!Ē

Forward Chaining: Forward chaining is the process where you break up a task into small steps, and teach the first step. Then you get the child to do the first step, and you complete the rest of the task. Then you teach the second step. After that, you make the child do the first two steps and you complete the rest of the activity. Forward chaining is usually used to teach tasks where the last step is very difficult.

Backward Chaining: Backward chaining is the opposite of forward chaining. Here you teach the last step first, then the second last step and so on. So, you do all the steps except for the last step and get the child to do the last step. Backward chaining is more fun for the child, because it helps them feel that they completed the activity. It is used quite often in training of self care skills.

Repetition: Repetition is one of the best ways to reinforce and learn a task. The best part about self care skills is that you need to do them every day, and often more than once in a day. Help the child practice his skills every single time he does that activity.

Shaping: Shaping is when you reward and appreciate the child when they are approximately able to do the task. It means that you donít look for perfection. If a child takes the comb to his head n moves the comb, you reward him and appreciate him for it. Itís ok if he canít completely comb his hair, or even if he ends up messing up his hair. Shaping is used in the earlier stages of training.

Grading: Grading is when you give a simple activity to start with, and slowly increase the complexity of the task. Some ideas for grading are Ė using a large comb, teaching buttoning on large buttons, teaching dressing with over-sized clothes.

Adaptations: Sometimes planning lessons or an independent living skills curriculum is not enough. Some children with special needs, especially children with physical disabilities may need to be taught an adapted way of performing the task. They may also benefit from some adaptive equipment.

Adapting the environment: Some adaptations in the environment that can help are a wheelchair accessible toilet, a bath chair, a low sink. Keeping the clothes and other belongings of the child at an accessible height will promote independence.

Adapting the technique: Sometimes, adapting the technique can help the child to be independent. For example, stabilizing forearms on the table before eating, or sitting down on the bed and putting on pants. An occupational therapist will be able to advise you on techniques based on the childís needs.

Adaptive equipment: There are a lot of different adaptive equipment that can help a child with special needs to be independent. Modified spoons, long handled reachers and modified clothing are some examples.

Select appropriate prompts. While teaching a child to eat with a spoon, for example, the teacher can move from full physical assistance to assisting the child only when moving the spoon directly into his mouth. You may need to use hand-over-hand assistance, but this support needs to be faded as the child becomes more independent.

Establish a routine. Routines pay a critical role in the formation of self-care skills. For example, putting on a jacket before going outside to play is a self-care skill that is routinely done prior to outdoor play. Brushing teeth after lunch is another self-care skill that is part of the daily schedule.

Learning, rather than time, should be the focus. It may take longer for a child with a disability to master these skills. Persistence and consistency are the keys to success.

Professionals: Get help from professionals as needed is important.

Expectations: Expect positive outcomes. Sometimes we do not attempt to teach self-care skills to children with cognitive disabilities because we have low expectations. If we expect children to succeed, there is a higher probability that they will.

Integrate: Integrate opportunities to promote self-care skills throughout the day and during play will provide needed practice for successful mastery of targeted skills. Having dress-up clothes in the housekeeping center, for example, provides an excellent opportunity to reinforce buttoning, zipping, snapping, and tying.

Responsibility: Child care providers can help young children become independent by allowing and encouraging them to take responsibility for themselves whenever possible. It can be faster and less messy to do things for children, but they learn so much more from doing things for themselves. When children practice self-care skills such as feeding and dressing themselves, they practice their large and small motor skills, gain confidence in their ability to try new things and build their self-esteem and pride in their independence.

Stories: Talk about various independent living skills through stories. Use stories also to talk about work, different jobs, and the value of money. All this will help the child be motivated to be independent, get a job and support themselves when they grow up.


4. Vocational skills

By the time the student has reached his final years of high school, he should have established a good set of vocational skills. Vocational skills examples include:

Beyond Vocational Skills

Once a person with special needs or disabilities is hired, she will be trained for the position, or she will train in a vocational school to excel in a chosen career field. Before someone slips the application into the mail or across the desk or counter, she should have been working on the personal skills that will make her an ideal candidate for the job she hopes to snag.

Vocational skills for special needs students can vary depending on what industry they hope to enter. Any position that requires the employee to interact with the public or clients will expect the employee to dress accordingly and present herself in a helpful, pleasant and informative manner. The more a special needs student can practice personal skills, such as greeting strangers appropriately and maintaining eye contact, the greater her chances of being hired.

Industries to Consider

Students with disabilities can offer a valued set of skills in a wide variety of industries, from retail to clerical. After students with special needs graduate from high school or reach the age to legally work, they should consider which industry they would prefer. If they have a penchant for fashion and folding, a retail job may be a perfect fit. Someone who is adept at arranging and sorting may find a clerical position to be highly rewarding.

Retail Skills for Employment

Retail industry jobs may require the employee to button shirts, fold towels or large items, match and sort bundles of clothing and arrange them by size. A vocational skill a special needs student can hone before applying is to learn the jargon of the industry and to practice basic requirements of the position, such as buttoning, hanging and arranging clothing.

Clerical Position Readiness

Vocational skills for clerical positions include stuffing and sealing envelopes, stapling and sorting packets of papers, folding paper neatly into halves and thirds, filing by a numerical and alphabetical system, labeling envelopes and preparing them for the mail.

Food Service Fundamentals

The food service industry requires its employees to sort, fold and bag napkins and utensils, be able to count out change, set a table or tray and arrange boxing or bagging materials among other food service tasks.

Jobs in the Grocery Industry

Students set on working in the grocery retail industry should be prepared to sort hard and soft items into different bags, separate cold and hot products, stock the shelves, open and tear down boxes and clean up wet and dry spills. This can be a physically challenging job involving a lot of lifting and standing.


5. Leisure and Recreational skills

You know very well that having a disability does not stop you from living your day to day normally. Whether you live with someone who monitors your needs, or if you are a totally independent person, it is clear that you have the right to find accessible options to make the most of your capabilities.

One of these ways to take advantage of your abilities is to carry out leisure activities for adults with disabilities. These activities are not only adapted for you to develop without barriers if you have physical disability or reduced mobility. They also allow you to interact with other people, which improves your social life, such as maintaining an active lifestyle.


Physical activity is undoubtedly very beneficial for you and any adult. It helps you maintain an active lifestyle, but also to interact with others. Even if you have reduced mobility, there are activities adapted for people with this condition so that they can enjoy the sport like everyone else.

What sport would you like to practice? There are people who are more adventurous and are encouraged to practice sports such as diving or water skiing, while people who prefer a quieter sport prefer to go on an excursion by land or sea.

Both in your locality and in many other places in Europe prepared for accessibility, there are organizations that have a special technical team that allows you to adapt the sport to your conditions, as you could also have the supervision of a monitor that will ensure that you live the experience to the fullest.


Art is a domain, a perfect way to express beauty, it is a creative work, a fun way to express yourself and turn an object into entertainment. This makes it a fascinating therapeutic activity that can be expressed in different ways since sometimes there are not even norms to create it. Art can give you the opportunity to express yourself and discover many creative qualities you have inside.

In your city you may find centers that specially prepare artistic activities for people with disabilities (whether it is mental / intellectual or if it is a physical or sensory disability), or in local communities or museums. Would not you like to discover the artist you have inside?


One of the best opportunities to feel more secure in yourself is to interact with new people who have your same abilities or not. Those activities in which you can be with people, communicate with them and socialize are the ones that will contribute most to your personal growth. Visit museumseventsconcertsdance performances, community gardens, cinema or theaters Ö there is much you can do! And all this in adapted places, so you will not have any kind of barrier to open yourself to new friends.


If you are one of the people who love to give help and love, surely there are organizations or other institutions in your city that are looking for people like you. How about sharing your stories with other people? Or listening to their own stories? Volunteering will allow you to do good deeds for others, but it will also help you open your mind and discover new accessible opportunities.