What are the issues?
It is true that many students with significant and complex disabilities work harder and longer to learn skills needed for day-to-day activities such as tying shoes, telling time and going to the bathroom. However, there is nothing to prevent students from learning academics and necessary functional skills. Every student with disabilities, no matter what his or her individual needs and strengths, has the right to access the general curriculum with special education supports and services. Additionally, students with significant disabilities have the right to an IEP reflecting stated goals and objectives. This does not prevent the team from augmenting the IEP with functional goals and objectives if deemed necessary.
Some possible responses:
“I want Jane to receive excellent instruction and be included with her friends and classmates in all school activities. Jane needs an IEP that will provide her with both functional and academic goals. I would like to work together to identify the goals for Jane and then talk about how we can help her with her functional skills here and at home.”
“If we cannot provide Jane good quality instruction and access to the general curriculum, then we need to identify other options available for her. We need services that will support Jane’s functional skill needs while she is learning reading, math and the other skills that all students will need in the future.”