Steps to Independence: Teaching Everyday Skills to Children with Special Needs / Edition 4

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Now in its fourth edition, this step-by-step guide to teaching everyday skills to children with special needs has been a popular resource for more than 20 years. Steps to Independence stems from the authors' belief that that parents are their children's first and most influential teachers. Based on years of work with parents, the book offers an easy-to-read, explicit program for teaching children with special needs the skills that will help them progress toward living as independently and happily as possible in the community.The strengths of the earlier editions-reader-friendly, well-organized, and stepwise presentations of potentially complicated subjects through illustrations, forms, and vignettes, and a touch of humor-are still reflected in the fourth edition. Section I cover the basics of teaching, while Section II address teaching skills in specific areas (get-ready skills, self-help skills, toilet-training, play skills, self-care skills, home-care skills, information skills). Section III breaks down the often difficult topic of dealing with behavior problems. Section IV addresses the "computer revolution" and the critical topic of partnering with teachers. The five appendices serve as reference guides for teaching specific skills.

"...expanded section on behavior problem management... written for parent of children with special needs, incorporating teaching tools such as activities, inventories, and illustration so children learn everyday"

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Editorial Reviews

Susan Fitzgerald

A wonderful book that breaks down skills . . . into manageable steps. Really helps us develop the building blocks towards independent living.
Beneath the Wings blog
Support for Families
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557666970
  • Publisher: Brookes Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Edition description: 4TH
  • Edition number: 4
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 283,011
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bruce L. Baker, Ph.D., has been Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, since 1975, where he formerly chaired the clinical psychology program and presently conducts research on the development of mental disorders in young children with developmental delays. Dr. Baker received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Yale University in 1966, then taught at Harvard University for 9 years. During his career, he has developed many intervention programs for children with mental retardation and their parents. He is presently a consulting editor to five journals concerned with mental retardation and/or families, and he is involved with a number of professional and service organizations that focus on children and families. Dr. Baker lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Jan, and their two children.

Alan J. Brightman, Ph.D., Founder, Apple Computer's Worldwide Disability Solutions Group, Saratoga, CA. Dr. Brightman created Apple Computer's Worldwide Disability Solutions Group as well as the Teenage Division of AT&T labs. He received his doctorate in education from Harvard University and received an honorary doctorate in science from the University of Massachusetts. He has produced a wide variety of media to combat the stereotypes associated with children with disabilities and children with chronic illness. Presently a private consultant working with education organizations around the United States, Dr. Brightman has served on the Board of Directors of Steven Spielberg's Starbright Foundation as well as Microsoft's Access Advisory Panel. He lives in Northern California with his wife, Melissa, and their two teenage sons, Alex and Jesse.

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Read an Excerpt

Setting Out

The 21st century is truly a new era for children with special needs, a time when parents and professionals together determine the educational course of each child. It is an era, too, in which the roles of parents and professionals require them to reconsider their individual responsibilities. Who decides what a child will learn? And who takes action to see that the learning happens? Simply stated, this new era for children with special needs requires parents to reexamine what it means to be a parent and requires teachers to reexamine what it means to be a teacher.


There is no one "correct" approach to reexamining roles. Teaching is a natural part of being a parent. Virtually every time you interact with your child, you are teaching him or her something — whether you realize it or not. Many parents of children with special needs have decided to become more intentional teachers; some parents are conducting daily teaching sessions in their home. Other parents, after considering their full range of responsibilities at work and/or at home, have realistically decided that an everyday teaching role would be impractical. Their teaching will have to take advantage of opportunities that present themselves throughout the day or on the weekend. In either case, the child gains, particularly when the parents have participated actively with their child's teachers in shaping an individualized education program (IEP). We talk more about working with your child's school in Chapter 20.


One of our basic assumptions in writing this book was that no matter what decisions you may have made about your role as a teacher, you will be better able to fulfill that role if you understand firsthand what good teaching is all about. Put another way, once you know how to teach your child a skill systematically — from beginning to end — and once you know how to manage behavior problems, then you will be a much better collaborator with others in your child's educational world.

A related assumption is that the only way to learn about good skills teaching is to do good skills teaching. Of course, you have already taught your child many skills. (Take a minute and think about all of the things your child has learned to do with your help.) For most readers, this book primarily will strengthen teaching skills they already have and suggest new ways to use them. But whether or not you have been teaching already in the systematic way we suggest, while you read this book we urge you to find some time, somehow, during which you will teach your child another new skill. We're not suggesting that you find additional teaching time to spend with your child. We're simply suggesting that you take some of the time you already spend and direct it toward what we believe will be a rewarding and long-lasting experience for you both. Like most parents, you'll probably be delighted at how good you are at teaching. But, just as important, you'll be much better prepared to be a partner on your child's educational team.


"Okay," you might say. "Teaching certainly makes sense. But there seem to be a lot of ways to go about this. What's the approach in this book, and how do I know whether it will work?" Good questions. The disability field has more than its share of different approaches, each with very vocal cheerleaders. It is very difficult to be an informed consumer, to separate the various philosophies about education for people with developmental disabilities from sound evidence about what works.

Because we want to help children with intellectual and related disabilities, we are particularly aware of new fads and philosophies. Some of these will be found to have merit and will survive to become the common practices of tomorrow. Others will fade,

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Table of Contents

I. Basics of Teaching (STEPS TO...)
  1. Setting Out
  2. Targeting a Skill
  3. Establishing Steps
  4. Picking Rewards
  5. Setting the Stage
  6. Teaching
  7. Observing Progress and Troubleshooting

II. Skill Teaching

  1. Get-Ready Skills
  2. Self-Help Skills
  3. Toilet Training
  4. Play Skills
  5. Independent Living: Self-Care Skills
  6. Independent Living: Home-Care Skills
  7. Independent Living: Functional Academic Skills

III. Behavior Problem Management

  1. Identifying Behavior Problems
  2. Examining Behavior
  3. Beginning a Behavior Management Program: Part One: Consequences
  4. Beginning a Behavior Management Program: Part Two: Antecedents and Alternative Behaviors

IV. Supporting Independence

  1. Computing: Now It's Personal
  2. Partnership With Your Child's Other Teachers

A: Get-Ready Skills
B: Self-Help Skills Inventory
C: Self-Help Skills Programs
D: Play Skills Programs
E: Functional Academic Skills Programs

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2006

    Great Book

    I found this book a wonderful tool to use when planning lessons for students. The book uses individulized catagories for easy access to specific topics. The steps for teaching tasks are broken into easy step-by-step methods. This is a 'must read' book for special education teachers working with MR students and is also worth sharing with parents.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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