What Are Functional Skills And Why Does My Child With A Disability Need Them?

Are you concerned that your child with a disability is not learning

academics at a grade and age level pace? Have you thought that your

child may benefit from a curriculum of functional skills? Would you

like to learn about a resource that can help you learn more about

functional curriculums for your child in special education? This

article will discuss functional skills, functional academics, why your

child with a disability needs them, and a resource for more


Functional skills are defined as skills that can be used everyday, in

different environments. Functional skills focus on different areas

such as home (cooking, cleaning etc) family, self help skills

(bathing, brushing teeth, dressing, grooming), employment, recreation,

community involvement, health, and functional academics. All students

with disabilities will benefit from functional skill training, to help

them in their adult life.

Functional academics are also important for children with

disabilities, who may not be able to learn age and grade appropriate

academics. Functional academics are defined as academic areas that

will be used by the student for the rest of their life. For example:

Reading (read signs; stop, go, mens, womens, read a recipe). Math

(money, grocery shopping, making change, budget). Health (grooming,

oral hygiene, plan healthy meals). A wonderful resource to learn more

about functional skills, and functional curriculums to help children

with special needs is the book entitled Functional Curriculum for

Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Age Students with Special Needs.

The book is Edited by Paul Wehman and John Kregal, and is a resource

that you will use again and again.

Your child with a disability needs functional skills because these

skills will have meaning for your child, and will help them be as

independent as possible, as an adult. For example: Every child eats,

and being able to cook or prepare simple foods will help them be more

independent. If children learn simple household chores, these skills

can be turned into job skills when they get older. For example: My

daughter Angelina, who has a severe disability, learned how to fold

towels when she was in elementary school. When Angelina entered high

school she had a job folding towels at the high school pool. Because

Angelina already had the functional skill of folding towels, the

transition to a job folding towels was pretty easy. Angelina also

learned that when she worked hard folding towels, she was paid. On pay

day, she was able to spend the money that she made at her job.

Learning functional skills that can be turned into work is critical

for all children with disabilities. They will gain pride by being able

to work, and will understand the connection between work and money.

By learning what functional skills are and why they are important,

will help your child as they grow into adulthood. Do not be afraid to

bring up functional skill training for your child, when you are

participating in IEP meetings. Your child is depending on you to help

them be a happy fulfilled adult!

Glassophobia- When Fear Is A Disability!

Fear is a natural human response and has, thus, been experience by each one of us at some point of time in our lives. It could be a simple fear of saying something wrong in public, fear of lizards or fear of unknown.

Fear basically arises out of distrust of people or situation. And distrust here is not simply a lack of belief but it is actually a sense of uneasiness borne out of the feeling that something might go wrong at an unknown point of time. This sometime makes one reach preemptively, which means that one changes one’s behavior too drastically and too suddenly. When the reaction is of a disproportionate alarm, the person might be said to be suffering from some kind of phobia.

Another form of fear is called terror, which is nothing but a fear of extreme kind. When one is struck by this kind of extreme fear the chemical response in the brain prevents the person from making a rational decision, and therefore, reacts without thinking in panic. It is possible that a person’s response might be far greater than what the situation demands. In other words, the person might overreact in panic.

Fear does reside in all of us in varying degrees but it becomes a problem when this fear takes control of our lives and prevents us from doing something that we want to do or make us do something that we don’t want to do. It is then that the fear becomes a disability. For instance, one is just too afraid to speak in public, which is to say if he or she is suffering from glassophobia, one might want to convey one’s point to everyone but his fear, over which he has no control, would prevent him from doing so. In this case it is a crippling disability. (Glassophobia is a fear of public speaking)

Since phobia is a product of mind, the only to way to fight it, is to make one’s mind stronger and immune to fear-thoughts. Identifying one’s fear is the first step and then facing it gradually is how one could overcome fear permanently. So, if you afraid of public speaking, start talking to a group of two informally, then with a group of three people. And then increase it to ten and more. You wouldn’t even know when you got rid of your fear.

Fear actually is not all that bad because it is our natural biological response to the situations that may endanger life. If it were not there, we would be far more inclined to put others and ourselves in danger. But excess of everything is bad; so when fear is excessive, it becomes a disability.

Disability Equipment to Restore Independence

A disability doesn’t mean that you are useless or have no other skills as well. Everyone has some special skills which are uncommon, if you are a good statistician and don’t know about chemicals then there must be some chemical engineers who are not involved in statistics. Everyone has some competencies and some lacking though is a disability. If you are having some disability challenge in life then you must have some other unique skills which are needed to be explored and polished. To keep the disable people in the life stream now a day’s many equipments and devices has been built. As it is often said that necessity is the mother of invention that is why the independence of these people can be restored using such equipments which has been invented time by time feeling the special needs of these uncommon people around us.

Disabilities can be of various types some people have blindness, some have listening and speaking deficiencies and some suffer with mobility challenges. Disability can be temporary, as well as permanent but in each case a person should not get isolated and there must be some helpful equipments and tools which can make the effected person active and independent. Disability equipments provides various benefits to its users, first of all these help them by decreasing the level of dependence on others, secondly give them self confidence and courage to do anything. These equipments increase the sense of dignity and can improve many areas of the life of a person who is having some physical challenges. These makes life easy and not only helps the handicapped but also of his / her care takers. Such equipments can be purchased from various suppliers and manufacturers which deal in healthcare and disability niche. Before going to purchase you must have a proper knowledge that what kind of equipments are available in the market and how can these improve your life. Secondly you also must know that which equipments can be covered through your medical insurance.

There are several types of disability equipments available in the market featuring certain functions and specifications. We have specified below the general categories and corresponding equipments to provide you an overview of these:

o Sport and Leisure

– Hand cycles

– Tandems

– Travel and Holidays

o Personal Care

– Dressing

– Toileting

– Eating and drinking

– Bathing

o Mobility

– Walking Aids

– Wheelchairs (manual and Powered, inc. ramps, accessories and scooters)

– Vehicles and modifications

– Stair lifts

– Platform lifts and step-lifts

– Through-floor lifts

o Seating and Beds

– Chairs and Seating

– Postural Support

– Beds, etc.

– Pressure relieving cushions and mattresses.

o Communication

– Communications Aids

– Accessible Computing

– Visual Impairment

– Hearing Loss

o Household

– Household equipment

– Kitchen Equipment

– Rails

– Switches, Environmental Controls, Alarms and Tele care

o Moving and Handling

– Moving and Handling

– Hoists

o Rehabilitation

– Orthotics

– Rehab equipment

o Pediatric equipment

– Play equipment

Is ADHD Protected Under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The answer to the question is somewhat long and complicated. So we will begin with writing that while someone with ADHD may qualify for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act, not everyone with the diagnosis of ADHD will qualify. And that may include you or your child.

The Americans with Disabilities Act was established by Congress in 1990. The purpose of the Act is to end discrimination against persons with disabilities when it comes to housing, education, public transportation, recreation, health services, voting, and access to public services. It also aims to provide equal employment opportunities for people with disabilities.

The ADA was written to offer protections to individuals with disabilities, not individuals with any particular diagnosis. The Americans with Disabilities Act seeks to protect individuals with significant impairments in function.

By the way, it is estimated that the population of the United States is over 300 million persons. And it is estimate that about 19% of persons have some type of long-lasting condition or disability. That would be somewhere near 60 million persons. This includes about 3.5% with a sensory disability involving sight or hearing, about 8% with a condition that limits basic physical activities such as walking or lifting. It also includes millions of people with mental, emotional, or cognitive impairments.

Since Congress enacted the ADA courts have had several challenges in defining the scope of the Act.

  • What exactly is a disability?
  • Who would be defined as having a disability?
  • Is having a diagnosis the same as having a disability?

These are some of the questions that the courts have had to wrestle with, not to mention the questions related to how schools, work places, public transportation agencies, and more, are to implement the Act in daily operations with both employees and customers.

So, to the Question: Is Attention Deficit Hyperactivity – ADHD – included in the ADA?

The answer is “Yes, No, or Maybe.”

The ADA defines “disability” as a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits

one or more “major life activities,” such as walking, seeing, hearing, or learning. Having a

diagnosed impairment, such as ADHD, does not necessarily mean that an individual is disabled within the meaning of the ADA.

The ADA does provide for “mental” conditions or mental illnesses, and potentially ADHD fits in this category. But as with physical impairments, the diagnosis of a mental illness or mental impairment such as ADHD is not sufficient by itself to qualify for protection under ADA. Again, having a “diagnosis” is not the same as having a “disability.”

We are not lawyers, and our readers probably are not either, but it is interesting to look at some of the recent court cases regarding the ADA that directly related to children or adults with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

These two cases seem to expand the definition of “major life activities” to include concentration and cognitive functions:

  • Brown v. Cox Medical Centers (8th Cir. 2002), where reportedly the court stated that the “ability to perform cognitive functions” is a major life activity;
  • Gagliardo v. Connaught Laboratories, Inc. (3d Cir. 2002), where reportedly the court held that “concentrating and remembering (more generally, cognitive function)” are major life activities.

But the courts have placed limitations on the scope of the Act as well, and have not just tried to accommodate everyone with ADHD. The court has its limits, and they have ruled that the ADA has its limits.

For example Knapp v. City of Columbus (2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 17081) is the story of three firefighters with ADHD who wanted the City to make accommodations for them in their jobs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit declined to extend ADA coverage to three firefighters who had Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Three firefighters had claimed that ADHD substantially limited their ability to learn, so the City should make accommodations for them. But the court held that the firefighters failed to establish that their ADHD met the standards to qualify as a disability under the ADA.

A very important limitation of Act involved a ruling from an earlier Supreme Court case with Toyota in 2002 which the Sixth Circuit Court used in this case with the firefighters. The Sixth Circuit applied the U.S. Supreme Court’s test in Toyota Motor Mfg., Kentucky, Inc. v. Williams, 534 U.S. 184 (2002).

Under the Toyota Motor ruling the courts must consider whether the person making the claim is unable to perform the variety of tasks central to most people’s daily lives, not whether the claimant is unable to perform the tasks associated with his or her specific job.

When applying this test, the Sixth Circuit wrote that when a person who is seeking protection or accommodations under the ADA can fully compensate for an impairment through medication, personal practice, or an alteration of behavior, a “disability,” as defined by the Disabilities Act, does not exist.

In other words, if a child, teen, or adult with ADHD can “get the task done” or “get the job done” by using medications, applying behavioral management techniques, receiving counseling, using biofeedback, using Attend, or other treatment interventions, then they do not have a disability that is protected under the ADA.

In this court case, all three firefighters testified that taking Ritalin controlled their symptoms, and that they were able to fulfill their family and work obligations. Thus, an ADA disability was not found.

So, it would follow that if you, or your child, could function pretty well at work or in school when taking medication or Attend, or using some other treatment, no disability as defined under the ADA would exist – at least according to the 6th Circuit Court.

Also, it seems that as a result of this ruling, employers under the Sixth Circuit do not need to make accommodations for employees with ADHD under these conditions:

  1. When the disorder has not been shown to substantially impair their ability to perform tasks central to daily life;
  2. When the ADHD symptoms can be improved by medication or other treatments.

Here is a pretty good list from a major university of the conditions that must be met for ADHD to qualify for coverage and protection under the American with Disabilities Act of 1990:

  • The ADHD must cause significant impact or limitation in a major life activity or function;
  • The individual must be regarded as having a disability;
  • The individual must have a record of having been viewed as being disabled;
  • The applicant must also be able to perform the essential job functions with or without accommodations to qualify as an individual with a disability under the meaning of the Act.

To establish that an individual is covered under the ADA, documentation must indicate that a specific disability exists and that the identified disability substantially limits one or more major life activities. Documentation must also support the accommodations requested.

  1. The evaluation must be conducted by a qualified professional, such as psychologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, or other medical doctor who has had comprehensive training in the differential diagnosis of ADHD and direct experience with an adult ADHD population. The name, title, and professional credentials of the evaluator should be clearly stated. All reports should be on letterhead, typed, dated, signed and otherwise legible.
  2. Documentation must be current. The diagnostic evaluation must adequately address the individual’s current level of functioning and need for accommodations. In most cases, the evaluation must have been completed in the last three years. A school plan, such as an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or 504 Plan, is insufficient documentation for a university, but can be included for consideration as part of a more comprehensive evaluative report.
  3. Documentation necessary to substantiate the diagnosis must be comprehensive and include:
    • Evidence of early impairment. Historical information must be presented to demonstrate symptoms in childhood which manifested in more than one setting.
    • Evidence of current impairment, which may include presenting attentional symptoms and/or ongoing impulsive/hyperactive behaviors that significantly impair functioning in two or more settings. In addition, the diagnostic interview should include information from, but not limited to, the following sources: developmental history, family history, academic history, medical history, and prior psycho-educational test reports.
    • Alternative diagnoses or explanations should be ruled out. The evaluator must investigate and discuss the possibility of dual diagnoses and alternative or coexisting mood, behavioral, neurological, and/or personality disorders that may confound the diagnosis of ADHD.
    • Relevant testing information must be provided and all data must reflect a diagnosis of ADHD and a resultant substantial limitation to learning.
    • Documentation must include a specific diagnosis. The diagnosis must include specific criteria based on the DSM-IV, including evidence of impairment during childhood, presentation of symptoms for at least the past six months, and clear evidence of significant impairment in two or more settings. The diagnostician should use direct language in the diagnosis of ADHD, avoiding the use of such terms as “suggests,” “is indicative of,” or “attentional problems.”
    • An interpretive summary must be provided that demonstrates that alternative explanations have been ruled out and that explains how the presence of ADHD was determined, the effects of any mitigating measures (such as medication), the substantial limitation to learning caused by the ADHD, and the rationale for specific accommodations.

Obviously, dealing with government regulations with their specific definitions can be very frustrating and difficult. It would be important to have realistic expectations in regards to the American with Disabilities Act and ADHD.

We would recommend getting legal advice from an attorney who specializes in educational law, or has expertise in the Americans with Disabilities Act, to learn more about how the ADA may apply in a specific case to a particular individual with ADHD.