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

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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.


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

Disabilities and Transition After High School: Developing Independence at the Community College, Even If I’m Not Taking Classes

English: Austin Community College Northridge C...

English: Austin Community College Northridge Campus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Okay, new graduate. You’ve finished high school, and your classmates, at least most of them, are going on to college.

You say to yourself, I want to go to college! Of course, you want to do what your friends are doing, right? It’s understandable that you don’t want to stay at home while everyone else is having a life. You want to see and be seen… BUT you’re not sure if you’re ready for homework again, and honestly, maybe you’re a little nervous about college classes.

Many graduates attend the local community college to get their start. Even if you’re not quite ready to take academic classes, there are lots of things you can do on campus to see your high school buddies and to find out whether you want to continue your education. You might even make some new friends.

Here are some ideas that you might consider doing:

1. To get started, walk around the campus. You can check with the Admissions Office about scheduling a formal tour, or you can grab a map and walk around at your own pace. Start with the Student Center because this is where a lot of students will be hanging out between classes. Go around lunchtime and plan to eat there. You might see students on laptops, watching the news, or even playing chess.

2. Use the campus map to see what buildings you might want to check out.

• Are you an artist? Find out where the art classes are. You might see student work on display or a quiet hangout spot that you like.
• Do you like to walk? Maybe there is a track or fitness center.
• Do you like libraries? There’s probably one available. You might not be able to use the computers there unless you have a student ID card, but you can still look at magazines and work on your own laptop that you bring.
• Do you like plants? See if your college has a greenhouse. You might be able to volunteer to wash pots, pick off dead leaves from plants, water plants, or sweep up leaves. Ask if there is a volunteer program or community gardening club at the college.
• Do you want to buy a shirt or cap from the college? Visit the bookstore. They’ll help you out. First, though, set aside money for lunch, the bus, or other things you might have already planned to buy. Put it in another pocket so that you won’t accidentally spend it on the wrong thing. Then see if you have money to spend. If you didn’t bring enough money, you can always come back later to buy something that you like.

3. Check out the bulletin boards or other notices that are posted.

• What student events are coming up? Movies? Bake sales? Student organization fair? The community can often attend.
• There may be a theater performance, musical group, or speaker that interests you, though these will probably cost money.

4. If you’re going to return to campus on your own, make sure you know how to be safe.

• If you use an elevator, know where the button is in case the elevator gets stuck.
• Study the signs that tell where to go in case of a weather emergency or how to call for help if you get nervous or lost.
• If you’re walking across a parking lot or roadway, use crosswalks and watch for cars. Drivers may be texting even though they’re not supposed to do that, so you have to watch out for yourself.
• Walk in the well-travelled areas. If you are around several people, you’ll be able to ask for help more easily if you are confused or nervous.
• Know where the emergency phones are if you need help.
• It’s okay to say hi to someone your age. After all, part of college is meeting people. Just say hi and then keep walking or doing what you were doing. That’s what people do when they don’t know each other well but they want to be friendly. If they invite you to play ping pong or start up a conversation in the coffeeshop, that’s fine, too. Just don’t go with them when they leave. They are probably going to class or home, and that’s not where you are scheduled, so say goodbye.
• Don’t ever go with someone to their car or to a private room unless you know them and unless you’ve told someone else where you are going beforehand. If it’s on your schedule and your parents or staff person knows where you are, it’s okay.

See, there are lots of things that you can do on a college campus without ever signing up for a class. Community colleges have a lot to offer the community, and you are part of the community, so join in!

Also, see:

(c) 2013 Smart Steps, LLC

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