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.
6. Doctors and Dentists
All young adults have to learn to make their own medical appointments when they leave home. Most of the time, parents and guardians take care of this while the person is living at home, and many young adults struggle with taking control of their own health care once they are living on their own, regardless of disability or executive functioning deficit. To handle all of this effectively, the person must learn how to make appointments, learn what kind of health insurance they have, keep their doctors’ phone numbers saved in their phone or written down somewhere, be able to schedule appointments without conflicting with other obligations, get to their appointments on time, identify the right professional to go to for their needs and have access to all the pertinent information they will be asked for when they make an appointment, such as insurance details and medical history.
Meta-skills are things one learns that open doors for other skills. Improved performance in certain areas will increase access to other, more advanced skills.
Identifying choice points – choice points are when a person is presented with the opportunity to make a choice, such as what time appointments are scheduled for. It is important to be able
to identify where these choices exist because the individual must know when it is possible to say no and get other options that work better for them.
Decision making – in this area, decision making includes knowing when they have to see a doctor, how soon they must see the doctor (is it an emergency or can it wait a couple weeks?),
where to make an appointment and what kind of professional to see.
Flexibility – flexibility is an essential life skill that individuals with certain diagnoses can have trouble with. In this area, flexibility includes the ability to work with the doctor’s schedule to
make an appointment, compromising if necessary, and altering plans if things don’t go their way.
Objective 1: Identify the correct professional to use
This task requires decision making skills. It can be taught through direct education of information, practicing obtaining information through insurance and online sources, and practicing making choices about who to make an appointment with.
Objective 2: Call to make an appointment
This requires knowledge about choice points and flexibility. A person can be prepped for this situation through scripting of what to say when calling, role playing the situation with them and placing them in contrived situations.
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 on Friday for the next installment in this series.