On October 19, Dr. Dana Reinecke presented “10 Things to Know Before You Leave Home (And How to Learn Them)” at Transitions’ “Strategies to Build Independence for Students with Autism, ADHD and Other Learning Differences” conference. Her presentation covered basic skills that are more challenging for young adults with autism and other learning differences and strategies their support network can use to prepare them to perform those essential tasks on their own. We would like to share what we learned from Dr. Reinecke in this series of posts.
Scheduling is an essential skill for independent living, succeeding in college and handling a career. Skills needed in this area include keeping track of appointments and obligations on a calendar, arriving on time to appointments and obligations, planning ahead to get things done and scheduling tasks. Using a calendar is especially important, and it isn’t always emphasized to the degree it could be by families and teachers.
Strategy: Practice and role play
Scripting interactions and learning behaviors ahead of time is often helpful in new situations and when learning new skills. Not everything is best learned in the moment, especially in situations involving other people, where the stakes are a little higher.
Scripted and staged practice – everything that should be said and done is planned and rehearsed beforehand and the behavior is practiced in a controlled, staged environment.
Unscripted and staged practice – the environment is controlled and staged, but the individual is not told what to say or do. They figure it out on their own as they go.
Contrived practice – the practice is not strictly planned, but the individual is still deliberately exposed to a situation where they will need the skills they have been learning.
Priming – the individual is told what to do in situations before they happen.
Positive practice – the individual is assigned to do a certain task and when they do something wrong, they must practice doing it right several times in a row to help the memory stick.
Objective 1: Use a calendar
Use scripted and staged practice to teach this skill. Walk the person through what to write for each different situation. Provide them explicit instructions and have them practice with you. Immediately after a successful prompting experience, try the task again unprompted until it starts to become fluent.
Objective 2: Getting places on time
Use priming to teach this alongside some prompting. In this situation, the individual typically does know how to schedule, they just struggle with timeliness because they don’t start thinking about their appointment until the time the appointment is scheduled for. Have them budget time for travel or preparation into their calendars and written schedules, indicating when to get ready or leave one place to go to another.
We hope these tips and strategies are helpful to you. Please remember that these are generalized examples and all goals, objectives, teachings and support strategies should always be individualized to see beneficial results. Feel free to mix and max strategies discussed in each post to fit the person you’re teaching. Everyone learns differently, so being flexible and working from individual strengths is absolutely essential in teaching these skills.
Good luck and check this blog again next week for the next installment in this series.