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See our Bullet Point Newsletter - Including features such as: Disability Living Allowance, A Close-Up on Curriculum, Employment and Employability and Something for Teaching Assistants (Home Tuition)

Education: The Great Equaliser!

Hello and welcome,
The following points have been expanded in the books available via my web site. They contain much more about accessing learning and the development of valuable skills.

Rgds Clive.

If You Don’t Do It Who Will?

Books

Development and support: pre-school to employment

Considerations at the pre-birth stage may include:

  • Access to genetic testing where the possibility of predicting or diagnosing post birth disability, may be desired
  • Counselling for those with a condition that can affect the unborn child and lead to a possible or likely disability in the child

Etc

Pre-School Provision

You can achieve a huge amount at home before your child starts playschool or formal education. However, professional advice and support is important because your child may find it harder to learn than, for example fully sighted peers if s/he has a visual impairment.

Regular home visits should take place by a specialist with appropriate experience and knowledge but, don’t assume that specialist advice and support will automatically be given.

A specialist, ideally one named person, should address the following,

  • Support your family from diagnosis through to a pre-school which is likely to involve listening to, and addressing family concerns and anxieties

Etc

S/he should also,

  • Assess your child’s disability, for example functional vision in a learning environment, including the home, whilst ensuring that you are fully involved as parents or carers during both assessment and planning for the future

Etc

Information Accessed Through Sight

It is estimated that a very high percentage of information is accessed through sight. A huge amount is also learned through incidental learning via sight. Incidental learning represents an important foundation for more formal learning later.

Through sight, your child gets information about,

  • Him or herself
  • The environment

Etc

Issues to Consider

Issues you may need to consider include,

  • Early diagnosis and breaking bad news
  • Linking with services and understanding the role of the health visitor

Etc

You may need to gather information covering,

  • The disability, for example visual impairment
  • Services and specialist play materials for your child under 2 years

Etc

Also,

  • Access to services for parents of ethnic minorities
  • Benefits and income maximisation

Etc

Starting School

In most cases children with a significant disability, for example severe visual impairment, will have been identified before starting school. Those with a less severe disability might not …

Following is a list of issues you may find necessary to address when your child is aged below 5 years.

  • Consideration of an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment and plan
  • Access to a nursery school or specialist nursery provision suitably equipped and with trained staff

Etc

The gathering of appropriate information covering,

  • Age appropriate play/learning materials …

Etc

Also,

  • Mixing with other children

Etc

And,

  • Adaptations to the child’s environment

Etc

Early Years’ Specialist Support

To ensure that your child has full access to a pre-school experience specialist advice will be necessary before s/he starts. This will involve explaining to staff about your child’s disability ...

A specialist, for example a low vision teacher, can deliver staff training. S/he can,

  • Advise in order to help ensure that the environment is safe …

Etc

Working closely with specialist support can enable you to,

  • Make informed decisions

Etc

A specialist can also ensure,

  • The provision offered is flexible; for example, a joint pre-school placement in a special school or mainstream setting

Etc

And,

  • Identify key professionals to support and attend meetings at your chosen early years setting

Etc

Teaching Strategies and Behaviour

A specialist, for example in low vision, can raise awareness about the common characteristics of your child’s condition and how to address them. These might include,

  • ‘Stilling’ when your child is listening and analysing new sounds
  • Rocking
  • Eye poking

Etc

A specialist can also advise about,

  • The extra time often needed for explaining to your child about the environment and learning resources

Etc

Further advice to those working with your child could include,

  • Using your child’s name before giving instructions
  • Introducing themselves before touching or even sitting beside your child

Etc

Equipment

A specialist can advise about equipment. For example, if your child is visually impaired, s/he is more likely to enjoy toys which are brightly coloured and,

  • Feel interesting

Etc

Specialist equipment might not be necessary but you should avoid learning resources always made of plastic …

Water or sand may cause apprehension ...

Accessible Resources, Modifying and Adapting

Story time is enjoyable for all children. However, showing a picture as part of a story may mean little to your visually impaired child …

Nursery staff may need to find another way of making information accessible. For example by:

  • Explaining what is in the picture

Etc

Pre-school should be an exciting experience for all and every child should have full access to learning. However, by whom, how often and when will the above points be addressed?

For an adolescent disability can be traumatic. Adolescence is about learning to live with emotional and bodily changes. It is a time when young people are seeking their own identity whilst trying to make sense of their position and future in the world.

Low Vision and Image

We learn a great deal by copying others. With low vision however, issues arising during adolescence can be more complex …

Rebellion

Rebellion is a normal part of the growing up process. However, rebellion in dress can be very hard to achieve for someone who is visually impaired …

Aids such as a cane or low vision device which draw attention to the disability might be rejected …

Frustration and Tension

Adolescence can be demanding emotionally, stemming from frustration and tension. This can be compounded by a disability ...

Being unable to go out with friends as a result of a disability can undermine confidence and self-esteem. It disrupts friendships and builds isolation …

Many visually impaired people are dependent to some extent on family and friends. It can be hard therefore not expressing frustration with the very people you need to provide support.

However, not rebelling as a teenager could be storing up trouble for later. It is even less acceptable rebelling when 30, 40 or 50 years old.

Anger, Depression and Confusion

Feelings of anger, depression and confusion are often common ...

If suppressed, anger or its cause could lead to depression ...

Independence

It is hard for adolescents to accept support gracefully. By asking for support they are acknowledging that they have a problem and for some, this is very hard to do ...

Many families find it hard to allow disabled adolescents full independence. Over protection is a major risk and this prevents the young person from developing age appropriate skills …

Information from Others Similarly Placed

Finding ways of exploring and releasing feelings can be therapeutic …

Acceptance and Loneliness

If an adolescent has come to terms with his or her disability s/he may find it easier to keep friends and find new ones …

Fear of the unknown and fear of not being normal are common feelings during adolescence …

The Helper

It is not uncommon for an adolescent to be arrogant, rude and ungrateful. This can impede support ...

A helper may also face anger and rejection which presents at times of distress. Knowledge, understanding and the building of trust is therefore necessary …

Identity, Social and Emotional Skills and Independence

A disability, for example visually impairment, can stimulate anxiety and isolation. Sight loss later in life can also mean losing a sense of identity.

A disability can hugely restrict the development of age appropriate social and emotional skills along with independence.

For an adolescent disability can be traumatic. Adolescence is about learning to live with emotional and bodily changes. It is a time when young people are seeking their own identity whilst trying to make sense of their position and future in the world.

Low Vision and Image

We learn a great deal by copying others. With low vision however, issues arising during adolescence can be more complex …

Rebellion

Rebellion is a normal part of the growing up process. However, rebellion in dress can be very hard to achieve for someone who is visually impaired …

Aids such as a cane or low vision device which draw attention to the disability might be rejected …

Frustration and Tension

Adolescence can be demanding emotionally, stemming from frustration and tension. This can be compounded by a disability ...

Being unable to go out with friends as a result of a disability can undermine confidence and self-esteem. It disrupts friendships and builds isolation …

Many visually impaired people are dependent to some extent on family and friends. It can be hard therefore not expressing frustration with the very people you need to provide support.

However, not rebelling as a teenager could be storing up trouble for later. It is even less acceptable rebelling when 30, 40 or 50 years old.

Anger, Depression and Confusion

Feelings of anger, depression and confusion are often common ...

If suppressed, anger or its cause could lead to depression ...

Independence

It is hard for adolescents to accept support gracefully. By asking for support they are acknowledging that they have a problem and for some, this is very hard to do ...

Many families find it hard to allow disabled adolescents full independence. Over protection is a major risk and this prevents the young person from developing age appropriate skills …

Information from Others Similarly Placed

Finding ways of exploring and releasing feelings can be therapeutic …

Acceptance and Loneliness

If an adolescent has come to terms with his or her disability s/he may find it easier to keep friends and find new ones …

Fear of the unknown and fear of not being normal are common feelings during adolescence …

The Helper

It is not uncommon for an adolescent to be arrogant, rude and ungrateful. This can impede support ...

A helper may also face anger and rejection which presents at times of distress. Knowledge, understanding and the building of trust is therefore necessary …

Identity, Social and Emotional Skills and Independence

A disability, for example visually impairment, can stimulate anxiety and isolation. Sight loss later in life can also mean losing a sense of identity.

A disability can hugely restrict the development of age appropriate social and emotional skills along with independence.

Building on the support from pre-birth to 11 years the following may also need addressing,

  • Updating an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment and plan
  • Dependence and independence

Independent advice from a specialist may be invaluable regarding,

  • Secondary school to college transfer …
  • The full range of educational and training placements available

Etc

The development of computer skills should be ongoing ...

Independent specialist charities may also be able to advise about the following,

  • Counselling and support where necessary
  • Access to, and expression of, youth culture …

Etc

Once again, advice from a specialist can be useful regarding:

  • Careers advice…
  • Meaningful work experience

Etc

Age appropriate independence is crucial. The development of age appropriate independence regarding daily living skills, life skills in general to include mobility skills should be ongoing…

The list is long. The following issues though are equally important for you to consider.

  • Sexuality, sexual health and sexual knowledge
  • Personal safety

Etc

School and college should be an exciting experience for all and every child and young person should have full access to learning. By whom, how often and when, will the above points be addressed?

Issues to Consider

Building on the points raised in the sections above, the following issues should also be addressed. You should have an understanding of how to deal with the following:

  • Updating or renewing an Education, Health and Care (EHC) assessment and plan
  • Further preparation for age appropriate independent living…
  • Preparation for further or higher education…

Etc

Along with,

  • Income maximisation and managing finances
  • Housing

You may also value specialist advice in the following:

  • Counselling and in particular genetic counselling
  • Leisure options…
  • Identity, personal relationships, loneliness, making friends and social outlets
  • Availability of information in an accessible format to make an informed choice

And,

  • Preparing for interviews, support whilst in work, support if you are unemployed and additional training

Employability

A crucial period in the life of young people is the transition from education or training into employment. Developing independence and the pursuit of employment are huge challenges. For many, the transition into adulthood is often made more complicated by disability. Consequently, at this time it is a good idea to reconsider the often heard mantra ‘education, education, education’ but replace it with ‘employment, employment, employment.’

Of course, education is crucial but for most of us employment is the end game and not education.

Many young people often arrive at this transition stage without the necessary skills to find or sustain employment. They are without the skills employer’s demand. The skills under consideration here are,

  • Communication
  • Managing information
  • Using numbers
  • Problem solving
  • Attitude and behaviour
  • Working with others
  • Being responsible
  • Being adaptable
  • Continuing to learn
  • Working safely

You will note that these are skills we all need and not just disabled people in order to succeed professionally.

Blindness, No Barrier to Employment?

As already mentioned for most people education is not an end in itself. Therefore, construct an education programme better suited to seeking and sustaining employment and thereby see education as a functional exercise rather than an academic one and use it to assist along a road to employment.

Addressing Employability Skills

What can the individual do to improve employability and develop the skills we all need to find and sustain employment?

You might like to ask yourself four questions when considering the education or training planned or being delivered,

  • How well is the young person being prepared for life after education?
  • Is/was the lesson building towards life after education?
  • What does the young person want to do after education?
  • How well does the lesson help support the young person’s aspirations?

These issues apply to both the disabled and non-disabled communities.

What is Necessary?

The following will therefore be necessary,

  • Independence and employability skills …

Etc

Who Is Being Considered?

Learners under consideration here are not necessarily academic high fliers. Neither do they have to have learning difficulties with an IQ below 70. Some may have been through a mainstream education placement whilst others may have attended special schools. The common denominator being, they do not have the necessary independence and employability skills to secure and sustain employment.

Consequently, we find a disabled person needing to develop the same general skills as non-disabled peers …

By whom, how often and when, will the above points be addressed?

This subject is covered extensively within,

DISABILITY: NO BARRIER TO EMPLOYMENT?

Finding, Securing and Maintaining Employment

Visual Impairment and Other Disabilities

Books

Copyright 2021