Essential Life Skills For Students With Disabilities: Course Description And Teaching Methods

Essential life skills for students with disabilities are important to learn and are frequently addressed in special education high school courses. Students with varying levels of independent functioning, from those who will live in group homes as adults to those who may live on their own, can be encouraged through exposure to basic life skills.

Life After High School

Though a number of people with disabilities continue to reside with their parents after graduation, the mastering of routine daily tasks in early adulthood may increase a person’s likelihood of living independently in the future. Depending on the severity of one’s disabilities and the types of programs available to students who are in the process of receiving post-secondary transition services, life skills practice can be applied to:

group home living, through which a person with moderate to significant challenges can perform tasks to the best of his or her ability with assistance from professional aides.

living with parents or roommates, through which a person can manage a number of tasks on his or her own or with assistance from others.

independent living, through which a person with disabilities is capable of functioning to the degree that he or she can perform routine activities with little to no assistance.

Essential Skills

The types of life skills that special needs students are typically introduced to range from personal hygiene tasks to effective communication skills. Examples of essential tasks that can be learned through school instruction include:

grooming and bodily care. A person with disabilities can practice life skills such as bathing and showering, brushing teeth, styling hair, and choosing weather-appropriate clothing.

performing basic household chores. Students can learn to help maintain a clean household by wiping down countertops and appliances, making beds, vacuuming, and disposing of garbage.

using public transport. People who are able to travel independently can learn life skills such as buying and using a bus pass, changing buses, using a taxi, or driving a car to specific destinations.

interacting with other adults. Adults with disabilities who seek employment can receive instruction on applying for jobs, handling job interviews, and communicating with co-workers or customers.

Implementing A Life Skills Course

School districts can implement life skills courses for special needs high school students through hiring trained teaching staff and offering a reputable and effective curriculum. Methods of teaching essential skills to students include:

modeling a skill. The teacher engages in role-play with the student in order to demonstrate a certain task.

rehearsing a skill. The teacher and student practice a certain skill and work toward mastery goals.

discussing a skill. The teacher advises the student on how to improve on the task, and the student shares any concerns that he or she has in regard to mastering the task.

Teaching essential life skills for students with disabilities is beneficial for young adults who are planning to either live independently or with assistance. By learning the daily living skills that are necessary for a healthy and productive home and work life, students with disabilities can prepare for a post-high school transition.


1) Life Skills For Vocational Success–

2) ERIC Digest–

3) Life After High School–