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

Posts tagged ‘Safety’

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:  https://smartsteps4me.com/can-my-young-adult-attend-college/

(c) 2013 Smart Steps, LLC

Independent Living: Is Crossing the Street as Easy as ‘Look Left, Look Right, Look Left Again’?

English: A pedestrian LED Traffic Light in Fin...

English: A pedestrian LED Traffic Light in Financial District, New York City, NY Deutsch: Eine Fussgängerampel im Financial District in New York City (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being independent requires being able to navigate the community safely. Summertime is a great time of year to explore outside activities; with that come opportunities to practice safety.

Prepare to be aware of the environment. The first step in community safety is to be aware of our environment. This means putting away the earbuds and watching where we are walking. If a person tends to follow others when walking, she or he is not being challenged to pay attention to what is in the immediate vicinity or make decisions about which way to turn. She is not increasing her independence. Encourage your child to walk with you, or to take a turn in leading the group. This may involve reading signs and maps, so she is practicing functional academics as well.

Independence when walking in different environments includes watching for cars, people, and boundaries. Today I’ll discuss car safety.

Practice Various Scenarios

Car safety includes crossing streets and walking through parking lots. Try various neighborhoods that include a traffic light, not using a traffic light, and using a crosswalk. Intersections with T intersections, one-way traffic, forked roads, and three way intersections vary in terms of traffic flow. It’s not only a matter of the “look left, look right, look left again” strategy of crossing streets. It may also require looking behind you to see if a car is approaching and getting ready to turn right into your path. It may involve watching for cars waiting to turn left. Point out the turning signal on cars and see if your child notices that a driver is planning to turn, and which way.

Stand Back from the Curb

While watching traffic, stay a few feet away from the curb. Think about where you would fall if you tripped or if someone bumped you from behind. What if a car turned the corner too sharply and came up on the curb?  Stay back about three feet from the road, but be ready to start walking briskly when it’s time to cross.

Being Independent Includes Being Proactive: Watch for Distracted Drivers

Even though cars are supposed to give right-of-way to pedestrians, sometimes they don’t. If it’s in an area where there is not a lot of pedestrian traffic, they may not be paying a lot of attention. They may be talking on their phone.  Walkers need to be aware and make eye contact with the driver before stepping into the street. We all need to take responsibility for safety.

Social Skills: When a Driver Stops For You, Say Thanks

A note on social skills in dealing with drivers: if a driver stops for you to cross, make eye contact and hold your hand up to say ‘thank you’ as you begin crossing the street.

Navigating Parking Lots Safely: Plan, Watch, and Listen

How about parking lots? Cars are backing up, coming from two directions, and cutting across the parking lot. Practice watching for the backup lights. Again, drivers should give right-of-way to pedestrians, but they may not see people walking, or they may not look. It’s important for us as walkers to watch out for ourselves.

  • There are more choices in terms of where to walk and where to cross to get to the building and back to our vehicle. A short discussion in the parking lot, planning out a route, develops independent skills.
  • This is a good time to talk about using our ears and our eyes. Sometimes we may hear a car coming before we turn our head to see it. This is why we take off our headphones before we get out of the car or off the bus. It’s the safe thing to do.

When you think about it, walking in the community includes a lot of decision-making. Practice on an ongoing basis helps to build independent living skills.

Smart Steps (TM) LLC (c)2013

Independent Living Skills: What’s My No-Phone Backup Plan?

English: New Mobile Cell Phone Technology

Parents feel better when they know their children are safe and have some skills to solve problems independently. Developing independence means that we give up a little bit of control as children grow up and attend school, participate in sports or community activities, or spend the night away from home.

How do you feel about your child developing independence? Are you worried that they won’t be safe?There are several steps we can take to increase our sense of safety and a maturing child’s sense of self-sufficiency.

Here’s one:It seems that almost everyone has a cell phone now. This is indeed a safety device as it allows immediate contact. What happens if the phone runs out of battery or your child leaves it at home?

Suggestion: Help your child write important phone numbers on a small card to keep in his or her billfold or wallet in case your child needs to borrow someone else’s phone to make a call.

  1. Have at least three people on the list.
  2. Occasionally check to see if your son/daughter remembers that it’s there by asking for one of the person’s phone numbers without using his/her phone. See if he or she remembers that the number is written on the card and can locate it.

What are some tips that you have found to be useful to develop independence?

Smart Steps (TM), LLC  (c) 2013

http://www.smartsteps4me.com

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