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.
Our posts are written by members of the HRC team who have first-hand experience (often family members) with the different disabilities, as well as professional experiences working within school systems and providers that support individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ID), ASD, developmental disabilities and behavioral health challenges.
As the new school year is upon us, you are probably thinking about writing efficient IEP goals for your students. How you will teach them the skills needed to progress towards mastery of these goals? 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, recreation, and transition goals to help prepare them for life into adulthood. The IEP should examine skills and have goals for daily living so the students can be productive in all areas of their lives. 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, parents, and students (depending on their abilities) should work together as a team to 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 addressed to help the student achieve optimal success. Hygiene and self-care goals in an IEP can include, but not limited to, 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, repetition, direct instruction, 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 their IEP goals and promote generalization across environments.
The Healthy Relationships Curriculum is a valuable, comprehensive tool to help school districts and organizations educate individuals about good hygiene. The program utilizes evidence-based practices while continually assessing 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!
Upcoming posts will address the importance of sex education during critical periods of adolescence, as well as social skill needs, to enhance relationships.