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The Criterion of Ultimate Functioning

For citizens with severe disabilities to ultimately function as productively and independently as possible in integrated adult environments, the services provided to them as students must be longitudinal and continuous, as opposed to short term and episodic.

The overuse of one to one instruction, homogeneous groupings, and repeated practice strategies probably prevent many persons with severe disabilities from acquiring the skills, values, and attitudes necessary to interact effectively in a variety of settings and with a variety of people.

Artificial instructional materials and settings do not allow students with severe disabilities to solve real life problems or provide them with the skills needed for practical functions, as much as do natural and realistic settings, tasks and materials.

In other words, the teaching of any specific skill must be justified by its ultimate contribution to the functioning of the individual in society. Teaching people to "walk in line" or to make pot holders would not contribute to their lives in the community.

A person on a swing
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Dr. Charles Galloway challenged the role of non-public education settings in "supporting an exclusionary and isolationist community policy toward a segment of the population."

Dr. Burton Blatt talked about the importance of supporting each individual "to realize his gifts, while society seeks to trap him, tame him and standardize him to fit society's picture of itself."

Victor Baldwin emphasized some key components of curriculum:

  • The best curriculum in the world is worthless without a delivery system adapted to individualized student objectives.
  • Task Analysis. Program implementers must analyze the task to be mastered, break it down into small sequenced components, and build as many branch steps on that level as are needed until the desired behavior is achieved
  • When the teacher becomes a classroom manager, aides, volunteers, and paraprofessionals can play a key role in implementing the curriculum objectives.
  • Generalization Self care skills should occur in the most functional setting to insure generalization of the skills learned.
Children at a table
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.