In the world of education today many middle schools and high schools are looking at alternative education programs that truly prepare students with severe disabilities for the “real world” after high school. Unfortunately, many high schools are so concerned with high school credits that they do not even look into better alternative education programs. Numerous high schools rely on computer programs that assist students in obtaining their high school credits without being in the regular school setting. There are many methods a school can begin to use to turn an alternative education program around. Some of these ways include the use of activity schedules, community involvement and summer employment, assistive technology, and the instruction of daily living skills.
Students with autism spectrum disorders and other students with severe disabilities respond better to stimuli and are able to complete tasks more successfully when these behaviors are predictable and presented sequentially in a step-by-step manner. Activity schedules allow students to visualize procedures and have a positive effect on generalization and social validity. Visuals are a very important part of everyday teaching when working with students in an alternative education setting. These schedules increase social interactions and assist students when completing job tasks and daily living skills. (Devender and Grimmett, 2008)
Not only does the integration of activity schedules assist students with severe disabilities in preparing for life after high school; community involvement and summer employment also has a positive effect. High schools and even middle schools start by offering a careers course and spring semester work study. This assists students in becoming more aware of the job and the tasks involved in being successful in the workplace. Teachers also play a key role in assisting students with finding summer employment. With the heightened emphasis on employment preparation due to the disappointing post school employment outcomes for students with severe disabilities, the fact that receiving work experiences during high school is among the most important predictor of favorable post school employment, and the fact that working during high school can contribute to the enhancement of students’ autonomy, identity, career awareness and aspirations, values, skills, knowledge, and development. Summer months offer time for students with severe disabilities to gain work-related experiences that could further their transition-related goals and prepare them for future careers. (Carter, Ditchman, Sun, Trainor, Swedeen, and Owens, 2010)
Many schools focus so much on post school employment that little focus is given to regular education courses that could assist students with disabilities. Assistive technology such as handheld computers and compatible software assist students at school and at home. Assistive technology can assist students in note-taking, animating...