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Developing Curricula for Severely Handicapped Individuals

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Developing Curricula for Severely Handicapped Individuals
Sarah Bin Mahfooz
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In the article “A Strategy for Developing Chronological-Age-Appropriate and Functional Curricular Content For Severely Handicapped Adolescents And Young Adult”, the authors, Brown, Branston, Hamre-Nietupski, Pumpian, Certo, & Gruenewald, address the unsuitability of the typical bottom-up curriculum offered to severely handicapped adolescents and young adult. The authors’ propose an alternative approach to that curriculum that is to teach chronological age-appropriate functional skills in natural environments. Then it describes an empirical strategy that is a curriculum development strategy. Curriculum development strategy is a six phase strategy, and it is constructed based on the alternative approach.
I like the fact that the author use short narratives at the beginning.These stories give the reader a clear picture of what parents go through and how this valueless, time consuming, and old strategies that have been used for years without any positive outcomes. Although, if there is any effect it is subtle compared to the time, money, and efforts. From my experience in Jordan, I have seen many young adults learning how to sing and dance and how they roll their eyes like they are saying this is not for us. I support the fact that they have to teach a strategy with their chronological age prepared and in a natural environment. It is sad to teach a 22 years old to imitate foot stamping or to pass a bag of beans to the next person even if he was mentally upright at the age of 4 years old.
These activities are nonfunctional and artificial. Using a bottom-up sequence which means teaching skills occur first in normal development then proceed to skills that are more progressive at an older age is just waste of time. Also, it increases the differences between them and the non-handicap mates. Focusing on functional skills and how often those skills are required in a natural environment and if it enhances independence is critical.
The authors suggest that educational programs for adolescents and young adults should be minimized and teaching non-school, and post-school should maximize. I do not know where I stand on this because nowadays education is so important yet I understand that some of the parents do not want their children to write their names or to count to 20. However, these parents want the children to help them around the house; for example, cleaning the rooms, bathrooms, and themselves. Other parents might want them to count and learn about the number so they can be independent and work in the grocery store. The key point for the educational programs should depend on the parents perspective and the child’s need.
Another point that the authors mention which is the social skills they said that the props of teaching social skills are so that suitable social communications might occur in school or out school. I disagree that there is only two proposed for teaching the students social skills it is not just to be acceptable in a school or outside the school. There are many benefits for social interaction, for instance, it can help build confidence, learn new skills, and improve his communication skills. Social interaction can also develop your academic skills. Severely physically challenged adolescents can learn a lot from a typical teenager like them this is one of the reasons that special education advocate for inclusion.
Typically, individuals with severe handicaps have behavior concerns and minimal ability and mostly cannot perform or have not yet learned some of the basic self-help skills. We have to teach them in the natural and least restrictive environment. What happens is most of the time the teachers teach them skills in the institution or center and they might succeed and perform it correctly but when they are at home, they fail. What happens is that the center’s bathroom is more advanced than home. For example, the faucet in the center works when you put your hands, but at home it is manual you have to use your hands to turn it on and off. This small difference confuses severely handicapped students, so you have to be sensitive to those differences. Teaching must be in their current natural environment.
A unique idea from the assumptions of the curriculum development strategy that stood out to me that the phrase ''severely handicapped'' represent students with a wild variety of performance characteristics and ultimate capabilities. Most of the people have negative perceptions of any severe special needs, student. Also, having this positive statement could affect the teacher attitude. When you expect that they might learn something even if it was part of this skill it gives you hope. Furthermore, the curriculum – development strategy is in sequential steps that is very explicit and can guide teachers for better outcomes. Providing the major life demands into manageable units and even dividing each environment into sub environment delineating the activities that occur in the subenvironments and skill needed to engage in the activities. This strategy attempts to provide direct instructions and might require some changes in the educational program for severely handicapped adolescents and young adult. However, the reality is that these individuals have a right to be included into all aspects of society.
Until recently, the curriculum for handicapped individuals has been based on developmental stages or the "mental age" of the targeted individual. The components of this non-referenced curriculum has consisted of non-functional, age-inappropriate activities based in clinical settings. By examining the functional nature of the targeted skills and the generalizability of those skills across natural settings, the development of a more meaningful curriculum is possible. Emotionally handicapped adolescents who are facing transition require functional, age-appropriate curriculum to utilize their strengths in a community and work setting.

References
Brown, L., Branston, M.B., Hamre-Nietupski, S., Pumpian, 1., Certo, N. & Gruenewald, L. (1979). A strategy for developing chronological age appropriate and functional curricular content for severely handicapped adolescents and young adults. The Journal of Special Education, ll(I), 81-90.

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