Independent Living Skills and Cognitive Disabilities: Reduce Anxiety, Solve Problems

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The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round

Many of us grow up riding the school bus, but when it comes to riding a city bus, there are a few adjustments to make. Here are some tips:

Planning Before the Trip

  1. Check out the routes. Study them to understand where they go.There may be a search feature that helps you identify the best way to get from point A to point B, depending on your location. Call the bus company for help if you are unsure.
  2. Bus schedules will usually have two charts showing northbound/southbound or eastbound/westbound. Figure out which direction you want to go and use the right chart.
  3. When checking out the routes, include the return trip. It’s no fun getting stranded and not having a ride home. if in doubt, call the bus company.
  4. Bus schedules may change every few months or so. The bus stops can also change. If you don’t go often, check for updates.
  5. Check the bus fare and be sure to have either a bus pass or exact change. If you buy a bus pass, you will probably get a better price per trip.
  6. If you take food on the bus, keep it wrapped up. Do not plan on eating on the bus. If you take something to drink, it should have a cap on it so that it cannot spill.
  7. Put the bus company’s phone number in your phone and in your wallet in case you get lost or confused and need help on the trip.

At the Bus Stop

  1. Be at the bus stop at least 5 minutes early. Be sure you are on the right side of the road, at the right stop. Ask others if you are not sure.
  2. If you sit on a bench, don’t take up all the space. If you see someone who looks like they need to sit, stand and let them sit down.
  3. Check your wallet and get out your bus fare or bus pass. You don’t want to keep other riders waiting in line while you’re looking for it. Keep your wallet in your hands; do not set it down on a bench. Keep track of all of your belongings while you get out your money.
  4. Have exact change. If you don’t have exact change, you will likely get a slip of paper with a credit on it instead of getting change back.

Getting on the Bus

  1. You have your bus pass or money ready. The driver will help you pay if needed.
  2. Tell the driver where you are going and ask if this is the right bus.
  3. If you need to get off the bus between regular stops, figure out where the pull cord is. Ask the driver before you sit down.
  4. Find a seat quickly. You might have to sit next to someone if the bus is full. Leave the front seats empty for elderly people or for people who have trouble walking.

The Bus Trip

  1. As you sit down, take up one seat. Put your belongings on your lap or on the floor. Leave room next to you for another passenger. As the bus makes more stops and more people get on the bus, they may need to sit next to you.
  2. If you listen to music, use earphones. If the driver is going to help you remember when to get off the bus, use one earphone so that you can hear the driver talk.
  3. Talk quietly.
  4. Do not eat on the bus.
  5. Look for a sign or poster on the bus with rules. Study them.
  6. Watch carefully for your stop. If you are getting off between stops, pull the cord just before you get to that spot to tell the driver to stop.

Getting Off the Bus

  1. Have your things gathered up and put away before the bus stops. The driver and other passengers do not want to wait for you to put away your earplugs, put on your jacket, and so on. Be ready to stand as soon as the bus stops. If they have to wait, it may throw off their schedule.
  2. If you find that you have missed your stop or that you got off on the wrong stop, ask for help. No worries: It happens to a lot of people. if you missed your stop, you will need to catch a bus going the other direction back to where you want to be. You might be able to walk if it’s not far. There are several people you can ask for help: You can ask the driver, call the bus company, or ask other bus company personnel that you see in the area. It’s best to ask someone with the bus company. You should also call someone you know to let them know where you are, especially if you are going to run late.

Return Trip

  1. If you are using cash for the return trip, put it in a separate pocket or spot in your wallet to be sure that you do not spend it.
  2. Check the return time and set a reminder on your phone for the time to start heading over to the bus stop. If you set the reminder for the actual time the bus is arriving, you could end up late. The bus will not wait for you, so leave early to be at the bus on time.

Whew, there is a lot to remember when using public transportation. With practice, it gets easier. If you take the same trip, you will probably get to know a few of the drivers and they will look out for you. What are other tips you’ve found to be useful?

Independent Living Skills: Going to a Movie This Weekend?

English: Arena Movie Theater in Sofia, Bulgari...

English: Arena Movie Theater in Sofia, Bulgaria Български: Кинотеатър “Арена” в София (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Going to the movies with friends is a popular activity for groups of friends or for dating. What if you’re used to going with family members and you’re not sure what to do? Let’s review.

Planning Ahead

First of all, figure out which movie to see and plan your budget.

  • Theater schedules change each week, usually in the middle of the week.
  • See what your friend(s) want to see and make a group decision as to which movie you will see.
  • Which theater is showing the movie? If you are meeting your friends there, make sure your friends are going to the same theater.

Plan your budget. What can you afford?

  • Check ticket prices.
  • If you are going to get popcorn or other snacks, add up the costs.
  • To save money, think about going on a Saturday morning or during matinee hours, or to an older movie theater.
  • Short on cash? Rent a movie and watch it at someone’s house.

At the Theater

Arrive at the movie theater at least 30 minutes before the movie starts, or maybe earlier on the weekends or when you think it might be crowded. This will give you time to wait in line for tickets, get popcorn, find your seats, and use the restroom before the movie starts.

At the Ticket Window

While you are waiting in line, check the schedule and get your wallet out. The cashier will want to know:

  • the name of the movie,
  • the time of the movie, and
  • the number of tickets you are buying.
  • If you qualify for a student discount, have your student ID ready.
  • Have your money ready.

Snacks

Popcorn and sodas are very expensive at the theater. Movie theaters may vary, but most do not like it if you bring in food. If they see you carrying a soda, they will probably make you drink it before entering.

  • You might share a container of popcorn if you’re with a group. This can be cheaper, especially if you get free refills.
  • You can also get a large soda and ask for courtesy cups to split the soda, if you think you can pour it without spilling.
  • Even better: Eat before you go and skip the refreshments.

During the Movie

During the movie, be comfortable, but respectful of the theater furniture and of other moviegoers:

  • If the theater is getting full, move to the center so that empty seats are closer to the aisle. If you sit on the aisle, be prepared for others to squeeze in front of you to get to their seats and again to get out when they need to use the restroom.  If you see a seat marked with a handicapped symbol, those are meant for people in wheelchairs and their friends who are sitting with them. Avoid those seats.
  • Feet belong on the floor: Don’t put your feet on the chair in front of you.
  • Take headphones to use if it’s too loud.
  • Put your phone on vibrate. No texting during the movie. Other moviegoers do not like the light coming from the phone and the click of the keys.
  • Speak to your friends using a quiet voice while you are waiting for the movie to start.
  • Once the movie starts, it’s best not to talk unless you whisper to your friend that you’re going to the restroom. Say “excuse me” if you need to step in front of people as you come and go.

After the Movie

It’s considered good manners to throw away your own trash as you leave the theater. If you are on a date, this will also make a good impression.

Enjoy the movie!  What other tips do you have?

(c)2013 Smart Steps, LLC

Independent Living: Going Shopping Today?

A picture of a wallet.

A picture of a wallet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being active in the community usually means that, if you’re going to be out for a few hours, you’re probably going to want something to eat or drink while you’re out. Here are a few ideas to consider before walking out the door:

Before Leaving Home

Fill a water bottle to keep hydrated while you’re away from home. Put it with your backpack or purse so you’ll remember it on the way out the door.

Put a nutrition bar, apple, or other healthy snack in your backpack or purse.

Check your wallet. Do you have a few dollars? It’s a good idea to have a little bit of money even if you are going for a short trip. If you are away from home  longer than you planned, you might want something to eat. If an unexpected problem arises, you may need to make a small purchase.

  • Some people like to fold their bills in half separately. This keeps the bills from sticking together when counting them out for a purchase.

If you’re planning to eat at a certain restaurant, look up the menu online and plan your meal purchase. Be sure to add tax. If you’re eating at a sit-down restaurant, add enough money for a tip. Is the total too high? Yes, those prices can add up fast. You might have to remove one item from your list.

  • Try not to spend all of your money on one meal. Order less food and then you’ll have money for a drink or other treat later in the day.
  • One rule of thumb I like to use is to order water at a sit-down restaurant in order to have enough money for a tip. It’s healthier, too.
  • Not a big appetite or short on cash? Don’t be shy about ordering from the children’s menu.  In my experience, restaurants are usually flexible in allowing anyone to order the smaller meals.

Have a great day shopping! It’s part of independent living.

(c) 2013 Smart Steps, LLC

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