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

Archive for the ‘Strategies and Tips for Independence’ Category

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?

Can I Use My Phone at Work? It Depends.

Closeup of a female speaking outside on a cell...

Closeup of a female speaking outside on a cell phone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is it okay to use a phone at work? The answer to this question varies, so after reading this, you might want to ask your supervisor to see what is expected at your job.

When is it okay to use a phone or other electronic device at work?

When you are at work, you are expected to do your job, not to talk on the phone. Personal phone calls can be made before work, during a break, or after work. Texting works the same way; it is okay to text before work, during a break, or after work.

There are some times when it might be okay to talk on the phone, such as:

  • You are waiting for your doctor to call.
  • You have a child and your child’s school calls you.

Most other issues can be taken care of before work, on breaks, or after work. If you need to make a call or you are expecting an important call, talk to your supervisor ahead of time and ask if it is okay. Of course, this would happen once in a while. It would not make a good impression if you needed to make a phone call every day or even every week.

The same rules apply for other features on your electronic device: listening to music, playing video games, watching videos, checking personal email, and checking social media accounts. Unless your job requires you to use these features, save it for your break.

Rules usually don’t apply to every situation.

For every rule, there is an exception. Some jobs may allow you to listen to music while you are working. Even more important, you might need your phone to help you do your job.

  • It could be your job to answer the phone to talk with customers or co-workers.
  • You might have some reminders on your phone to help you remember what to do and when to do it.
  • You might need to use the calculator on your phone.

Mature behavior makes a good impression.

If you need to use your phone to do your job, be sure that your employer understands why you are using it. Be trustworthy and use your phone just for work. In this way, you will make a good impression as a quality employee.

Is it your goal is to keep your job, make more money, or get ahead at work by being promoted to another job? If your answer is yes, you would be wise to follow these guidelines when using your phone or other electronic device at work. Quality employees are more likely to get raises, promotions, and more hours.

Independent Living Skills: Microwave Meals

English: The interior of a microwave oven ‪中文(...

English: The interior of a microwave oven ‪中文(繁體)‬: 微波爐的內部 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cooking at home can be a challenge. To keep it simple, we often think that stocking up with microwave meals is a simple way to be able to have a complete meal. It’s not always that simple.

Microwave Oven vs. Conventional Oven

First of all, most meals have two sets of instructions: Conventional Oven and Microwave Oven. A conventional oven is just the regular oven that is part of the stove. Decide which way you want to heat your meal and then find those instructions.

Cooking Temperature

Second: What temperature do you need to use? For a conventional oven, you will look for a number. For a microwave, you will look for a setting such as low, high, medium, or 50% power.

Cooking Time

Third: How long do you need to cook it? There is often more than one step. Read carefully. If it says half a minute, that is the same as 30 seconds (:30) on the microwave. Do you know the difference between minutes and seconds on the microwave timer? Do you know the difference between hours and minutes on the conventional oven timer? It makes a huge difference. If you guess wrong, you could end up with burned or frozen food.

Special Instructions

Last: Look for other instructions. When a meal contains different foods in the same package, the foods often need special treatment. You might need to remove film from part of the meal, let it stand, stir, rearrange, and so on. Do you know what these words mean? If not, call someone and check. Otherwise, part of your food could be dried up or still frozen when you try to eat it.

TIP: To keep this easy, buy a single item such as one burrito, and add a salad or fresh fruit as your side dishes.


1. Before you start cooking, think of someone you could call in case you run into difficulty. You could even call them before you start and review the cooking instruction together over the phone.
2. Always stay in the kitchen when heating food. Do not leave the room. You need to be there in case the food starts to overcook. You could also forget that you are cooking if you leave the room. If you leave the oven or stove on, you could burn something or start a fire.
3. Use two hot pads or oven mitts when removing hot dishes from an oven.
4. If you burn yourself, run cold water over the burn right away. If the skin gets a blister or bubbles up, call someone for advice on what to do.
5. If something on the stove or in the oven starts smoking, turn off the oven or burner and get help.

Living on your own means cooking for yourself. It gets easier with practice, so keep trying!

(c) 2013 Smart Steps (TM) LLC

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