Importance of Life Skills
The World Health Organisation (2020) defines life skills as ‘psychosocial abilities for adaptive and positive behaviour that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life.” Life skills education school handbook- WHO World Health Organisation 2020
A study conducted in 2015 by Autism Speaks and Foundation 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 characteristics when it came to maintaining employment and achieving life satisfaction.
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. Despite the development of a fully co-produced autism strategy for implementation in 2021 being significantly inhibited as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister of Health in Northern Ireland has approved an interim autism strategy highlighting key priority areas for implementation, throughout 2021 and 2022. This interim autism strategy continues to focus on improving support for autistic people, their families and carers in addition to those who are still waiting on an assessment, through ensuring collaborative partnerships with all departments, the health and social care sector and voluntary and community organisations. The framework for this interim strategy is based upon three strategic outcomes which reflects core priorities and the vision for person centred health and wellbeing as outlined in the Health and Wellbeing 2026- Delivery Together
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.
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