Supervisor of Special Education Programs
Email Christine
Office: 814-695-5643 Ext. 3325



Effective Instruction For Students With Complex Support Needs

Students who qualify for special education services in the areas of Life Skills Support as determined by their Evaluation Report and IEP team, demonstrate significant difficulties in acquiring academic and functional daily living skills.

Students in need of Life Skills Support have significant cognitive disabilities and require intensive instruction to learn. Students in LSS require extensive adaptation and support in order to participate meaningfully and productively in the everyday life activities of school, home, community and work. In addition, students in LSS require substantial modifications of the general education curriculum and their participation in the general education curriculum differs substantially in form and/or substance from that of most other students (i.e., different objectives, materials and/or activities).

Classrooms for students with Life Skills Support needs may include students who have autistic support and/or physical support needs. These students may require augmentative communication systems and assistive technology in order to access, participate and progress in learning.

Programming for Students in a Life Skills Curriculum

  • Life Skills classrooms have a higher staff to student ratio based on student need as identified in the student’s IEP.

  • Life Skills Programs are included in regular school buildings with many students participating with their peers in appropriate classes and school activities.

  • Positive Behavioral Support plans are implemented for students who have behavioral needs that impede their learning.

  • Direct Instruction is provided in the content areas of Reading, Math, and Science.

  • Functional academics such as money and time are taught as well as functional life skills including social skills, dressing, toileting, basic cooking skills, and following directions to complete other basic tasks of life.


PaTTAN develops and disseminates a wide variety of material to support those involved in educating students with disabilities and to support their families. These include print publications focusing on various disabilities, explaining special education law, rights and responsibilities, and effective research-based instructional practices.

Alternate Eligible Content represents a reduction in breadth, depth, and level of complexity of the Eligible Content such that it is appropriate for the students with the
most severe cognitive disabilities while still ensuring access to the general education curriculum. They are meant to help teachers plan instruction aligned to state
academic and content standards and complement the teaching of functional life skills. A series of webinars related to a statewide initiative to expand the knowledge
and skills of educators to support instruction of the AEC can be found on the

The Bureau of Special Education (BSE)is committed to educating students with complex support needs.

Council for Exceptional Children is the largest international professional organization dedicated to improving educational outcomes for individuals with exceptionalities.