Importance of Life Skills

The World Health Organisation defines life skills as “abilities that help us to adapt and behave positively so that we can deal effectively with the challenges of everyday life”. (http://www.lifeskillshandbooks.com/2009/11/life-skills-definitions-ideas-resources/)

A study conducted in 2015 by Autism Speaks and Foundation of Hope found that the mastery of self – care skills such as bathing, dressing, cleaning and cooking were more important than language, intellectual ability or the severity of autism symptoms when it came to maintaining employment and achieving life satisfaction. (https://www.autismspeaks.org/sites/default/files/docs/ttk2_independent_living.pdf)

Two key policy documents produced by the Department of Education and Northern Ireland Executive also identify the importance of children and young people developing life skills.

The Northern Ireland Autism Strategy (2013 – 2020) has identified health and wellbeing (access to programmes and early intervention), education (capacity building of school staff and collaboration between involved agencies), transitions, employability (awareness of support and access to opportunities for employment, training, and life-long learning) and independence, choice and control (supported independent living options and guidance from other agencies) as some of the strategic priorities which need to be addressed.

The Autism Education Trust Professional Competency Framework (2011) advocates that schools and other educational settings review their inclusive practices and ensure that all staff have access to appropriate training to meet the needs of each individual pupil.