Intellectual disabilities (ID) impose numerous challenges and limitations on people’s independent lives. For students in a classroom of a special education institution, training of such adaptive skills clothing, hygiene, or nourishment constitutes a significant part of everyday learning (Shireman, 2015). According to the American Psychiatric Association (2013), “adaptive skills are defined as practical, everyday skills needed to function and meet the demands of one’s environment, including the skills necessary to effectively and independently take care of oneself and to interact with other people.”
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The recognition of the lack of such skills can contribute to future opportunities for an independent life with effective interdependence and inclusion in the life of a society. Thus, adaptive skill training is an essential element in preparing students with intellectual disabilities for adult life and is a valuable contribution to their maturity (Papadatou-Pastou & Tomprou, 2015).
The opportunities for independent personal and academic life for all people including those with intellectual disabilities should be a priority for the societies of highly developed countries. To live a high-quality life and be able to establish proper self-care, students with ID should be specifically taught adaptive and academic skills. It is of the responsibility of government institutions, educational facilities, and non-government organizations to develop a framework of interventions to ensure the inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in the life of society as its independent members (Alsuhaibani, 2018).
Al-Mousa (2010) agreed that mainstreaming students with intellectual disabilities and their active inclusion in the educational environment provides a variety of positive outcomes. According to the studies analyzed by Al-Mousa (2010), the presence of students with disabilities in regular schools improves their “independent living skills, linguistic growth, physical development, self-orientation, vocational activity, and social responsibility” (p. 21). Mainstreaming positively influences the educational process for exceptional students and imposes no limitations or discomfort for normal students, thus proving the necessity of such interventions.
Students with ID who enter elementary public schools show the lack of adaptive skills necessary for independent living. Primary skills that seem to be acquired effortlessly by most adults become a challenge for the individuals suffering from intellectual disabilities who need more time and effort to learn them. In many cases, these students’ simple routine task completion greatly depends on their caregivers’ assistance that imposes a limitation for children’s independence (Mays & Heflin, 2011).
Teachers who work in Saudi Arabia elementary public schools lack knowledge about the strategies and approaches obligatory to teach adaptive skills to students with ID. Almutairi (2018) recognizes such a gap in teachers’ competencies in this area. The researcher agrees that the work with ID students requires more specific and more effective training courses for teachers to guarantee their competent assistance in such children’s adaptation to adult life.
The issue imposes a variety of risks and adverse consequences for the future of children with intellectual disabilities. Deppisch (2013) states that if adaptive skills are not taught and trained properly, exceptional students are endangered to fail in conducting an independent life in adulthood. Consequently, such individuals might face personal and social challenges adjusting to life in society on their own (Klepp, 2017). As Wynkoop (2016) stated, these disabilities emerge as a failure to act according to society’s requirements which determines a disability as such. The promotion of independence in disability students depends on the development of teachers’ training programs, facilities, and advancement in the research of the issue related to ID individuals’ life in the society (Hausman, Ingwarsson, & Kahng, 2014).
This study will address the issue of elementary school special education teachers’ knowledge about adaptive skill training and the current situation of this knowledge’s application to work with ID students. Also, the researcher will investigate teachers’ perception of the inclusion of adaptive skills into the classroom work and will address the level of current comfort regarding the evidence-based teaching of adaptive skills to students with ID.
Al-Mousa, N. A. (2010). The experience of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in mainstreaming students with special educational needs in public schools. Web.
Almutairi, R. A. (2018). Teachers and practitioners’ perceptions of transition services for females with intellectual disabilities in Saudi Arabia. Web.
Alsuhaibani, A. (2018). Arabic version of the Arc’s self-determination scale for female adolescents with intellectual disabilities, learning disabilities, and multiple disabilities in Saudi Arabia: Validation study. Web.
America Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric.
Hausman, N. L., Ingwarsson, E. T., & Kahng, S. W. (2014). A comparison of reinforcement schedules to increase independent responding in individuals with intellectual disabilities. Journal of Applied Behavioral Analysis, 47(1), 155-159.
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Mays, N. M., & Heflin, L. J. (2011). Increasing independence in self-care tasks for children with autism using self-operated auditory prompts. Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders, 5, 1351–1357. Web.
Papadatou-Pastou, M., & Tomprou, D. M. (2015). Intelligence and handedness: Meta-analyses of studies on intellectually disabled, typically developing, and gifted individuals. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 56, 151-165.
Shireman, J. F. (2015). Critical issues in child welfare (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Columbia University Press.