Students with disabilities and readiness to successfully complete activities of daily living skills: the effects of direct instruction and peer modeling

Tim Lemke


Do direct instruction and peer modeling in the area of independent living skills increase a student with disabilities' readiness for self-sufficient life upon completion of high school? How to treat and educate individuals with disabilities has been a heated debate throughout every era of our special education history. The United States has gone from the extreme of institutionalizing individuals with disabilities on one end of the spectrum to full inclusion in a regular education setting on the other end of the spectrum, with every other combination of the two falling in between these two polar opposites. This debate has continued through modem times and right through to today. Currently a divide exists in special education, which splits the opinion on to two sides. One side will note that individuals with disabilities should be integrated and mainstreamed in to the regular education classroom. Others believe that students with special education needs should be instructed in the areas of independent and functional living skills, which will prepare them for a self-sufficient life after high school. As a present day special educator, this debate has landed on my doorstep, constantly creating doubt and speculation as to which approach is more beneficial for the students themselves. Purpose of the Study Almost every special education teacher today has come across an individual with special education needs who is unable to perform daily living skills such as cleaning, cooking, paying bills, and the like. How to instruct these individuals in these deficit areas is the problem that needs to be addressed. The purpose of this study was to identify the effects, whether positive or negative, of direct instruction and peer modeling in the area of functional and independent living skills on students with special education needs.