Increasing Independence

Growing up, and becoming an adult, you have a lot more responsibilities. Some are good - more freedom, you can do what you want! Others are not so good - having to get up and go to work at a certain time, paying bills :D

With all of our clients, we are working on skills to help them be as independent as possible. We work with clients from the ages of 6 through to 60, and at each age, when we begin working with them, we spend time getting to know them, and their families, and working out what skills we need to focus on and teach.

It can be tricky to look far into the future to understand what skills a person might need - what will they do for fun? Where will the live? Who will they hang out with? What will they do for work? However it is good to consider some basic skills, that will help in a variety of different ways, and plan for generalisation, so these skills are used.

One of the many excellent resources we use is called 'Essential for Living' which if you have spent any time with me in an ABA context, you've probably heard me go on about it :D It not only provides an excellent overview of thousands of different 'life skills' we all need to have, to help you hone in on what is important to teach, but breaks those skills down, and highlights how you can teach skills to help the learner be successful. Which is exactly what we want to do - set the learner up for success!

As with any programs we put in place, we individualise it for each learner - what specific skills do they need, for this particular skill/activity. We also look at how we can teach it to the client - lots of behavioural skills training - modelling, practicing, providing feedback (through reinforcement/prompting), and sometimes even different presentation mediums! We love our Google drive and all it's functions, but also happy to use good old fashioned paper and photos! Hey, if it works, it works!

The great thing about increasing independence is you are programming for skills this person is going to be using every day. This means they will have many different opportunities to practice it everyday, and have built in maintenance of skills! Ensuring we are sticking to all 7 dimensions of Applied Behaviour Analysis, is what we love to do!

The other thing to consider about independence is 'when'. When should you start teaching, and what? It is never too early, especially if there are some pre-requisite skills needed that can be worked on from a young age. The more opportunities for practice, the better!

Consider how you can identify and provide opportunities to increase independence for your learner. Remember, if it is becoming overwhelming, start small - even for yourself! Start small, and set yourself, and your learner, up for success.

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