This month, our blog will focus on how to include strategies into a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) that relate to healthy relationships with oneself and others.
Upcoming posts will address the importance of teaching sex education during critical periods of adolescence, as well as social skill needs, to enhance relationships. Our posts are written by members of the HRC team who have first-hand experience (often family members) with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and/or co-morbidity as well as professional experience working within school systems and providers that support individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ID), ASD, developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges.
The IEP is the cornerstone of a student’s special education program and should reflect their strengths, needs, and progress as they move through school. An IEP should address academics, vocational planning, community engagement, domestic function, and recreation. Within the domestic domain, the IEP should examine skills needed for daily living. In this post, we would like to touch on self-care.
Hygiene, including proper self-care is critically important in preparing an individual to achieve independence within the community. Without consistently bathing or showering, dressing appropriately for an environment, maintaining good grooming and using the bathroom independently, it is unlikely that an individual will be successful at school, at work, or within their interpersonal relationships. Establishing proper hygiene skills as early as possible prepares a student for participation in the community and may help to prevent being bullied by others.
Teachers and parents should work together as a team with input from the student to the degree that they are able to participate and proactively assess the hygiene skills that are currently in place. Once the team has determined what skills are currently in place, the team can focus on what hygiene and self-care skills need to be added to help the student achieve optimal success. Hygiene and self-care goals in an IEP can include such tasks as:
• Using tissues after sneezing
• Teeth brushing and flossing
• Selecting appropriate clothing for school or work
• Communicating the need to use the bathroom
• Using the bathroom safely (for example, ensuring that boys using the urinal are not dropping their pants to the floor making them vulnerable to sexual harassment and bullying)
Teachers can utilize a combination of demonstration, visual aids, and social stories to educate students about hygiene. Involving caregivers at home to reinforce appropriate hygiene is also key to helping a student progress on the achievement of these IEP goals and promote generalization across environments.
The Healthy Relationships Curriculum is a valuable, comprehensive tool to help school districts and agencies educate individuals about good hygiene and assess the mastery of skills in this critical area of self-care. If you have questions about including hygiene and self-care goals into an IEP, or to learn more about our curriculum, contact a member of our team today!