At Latham School, one of the goals of our program is to help students prepare for adult living. In order to help this happen, we make an assessment of each individual’s understanding of basic community resources, such as using public transportation; reading a basic map; going to a local store. We then assess each person’s ability to read and/or understand street signs and basic rules of the road; their knowledge of how to navigate simple directions; and their ability to pay for a purchase and correctly manage change. A tip that has worked well for us is to pair trips into the community with the specific skills we are hoping to teach each individual. While this can require a lot of 1:1 support, we find that the most meaningful trips begin with concrete explanations of the goal(s) of the community trip, along with step-by-step advance notice of what the student can expect to encounter on the trip. Also, a concrete review of the skill(s) that the student will be practicing on the outing.
These steps, along with a staff person’s support and ongoing discussion and review of the skills being practiced will help to build the student’s ability to be as independent in the community as possible. The repeated practice and discussion of the trips serves to boost the individual’s confidence in his/her ability to successfully navigate basic community outings with fading staff support.
Submitted by: Pam Nolan Director of Children’s Services