A recent article in the Washington Post reveals that the level of reading and math literacy is having a significant effect on the ability of patients to participate and understand medical decisions, and to carry out doctor's directions. A significant number of patients could not understand the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon.
There are efforts to simplify the jargon that only makes this literacy deficit worse. In addition, the drug company Pfizer has sponsored a program called Ask Me 3 which:
" Designed by the Partnership for Clear Health Communication, a coalition of national health and literacy groups, the program encourages patients to ask three simple questions and to be sure they understand the answers: What is my main problem? What do I need to do? Why is that important?"
For many students with special needs this article should be brought to your next IEP meeting. Issues relating to understanding the body, expressing pain and symptoms, and other necessary skills (e.g. tablespoon vs. teaspoon) can and should be made goals both in the IEP and definitely in transition plans. The Ask Me 3 reads like benchmarks under a health-related goal. Moreover, the key fact here is that being behind in reading and math literacy is more than an educational issue, it can be a matter of life and death.