Independent living skills are the abilities that allow individuals to thrive independently and be successful in life. These skills are essential for adults because the older we get, the more responsibilities we incur. Managing time and money or doing laundry and grocery shopping, among other things, are all vital skills in adulthood.
In this blog, we’ll look at the following:
- Core components of independent living skills training
- Success stories: Life transformations through independent living skills training
- Collaborative approaches in skills training
- Addressing challenges in skills training for adults with developmental disabilities
Core Components of Independent Living Skills Training
Numerous skills can be considered “living skills” that allow for greater autonomy.
At Roman Empire Agency, we focus on the core skills that provide a foundation for a greater quality of life. In this blog, we’ll look at money management, self-care, and household management.
Financial Management and Budgeting Skills
How you spend and save your money vastly impacts your short and long-term living. Learning strategies for personal finance management, budgeting, and investing can set you up for a future with limited financial stress and even provide the gateway for early retirement.
For adults with developmental disabilities, several strategies can be used to teach the importance of financial literacy.
- Play money games with them. (e.g., pretend bank teller or grocery clerk with real money, switching roles from customer to worker)
- Discussing the price while you’re shopping, and prompting them to pick the best choice based on your budget, the cost of the item, and the brand.
- Include them in the shopping list creation process or in a general overview of your budget (e.g., $600 put aside for groceries, $2,000 to pay rent, etc.)
- Use visuals and hands-on tools like whiteboards to divide money into categories (pennies, quarters, 5-dollar bills)
Daily Living and Self-Care Skills
For many, brushing teeth and showering daily is second nature. Our Independent Living Services help consumers who face difficulties with these everyday tasks to develop a skillset for self-care and day-to-day living.
Some of the daily tasks that we emphasize in our service include:
- Eating and drinking
- Dressing themselves
- Following routines
- Preparing/cooking food
- Brushing teeth, flossing, washing face
Each of these areas is important to every individual’s emotional and physical health.
Below are different ways you or your loved one can practice daily living skills and self-care at home.
Exercise and Movement are crucial for stress management, aiding preparation for potentially frustrating tasks.
Functional Communication Training
FCT offers alternative ways for learners to express frustrations, such as designated phrases like “Can we do something else?” or “I don’t like this.”
Modeling involves showing desired behavior through personal examples, aiding in visualization and imitation.
Prompting, whether through words, gestures, or direct aid, helps individuals acquire skills or engage in acceptable behavior.
Reinforcement, like praise or rewards, strengthens an individual’s desire and retention of skills.
Social Skills Training
SST focuses on developing an individual’s social skills through activities such as writing letters, making phone calls, and interacting with friends.
Like modeling, video modeling allows individuals to learn various skills through visual examples, providing a consistent resource.
Visual supports, such as graphic organizers and checklists, reinforce routines and expectations related to targeted skills and behaviors.
Household Management and Organization
Caring for your life goes beyond “self” care; it’s also a matter of caring for your environment. Our Independent Living Skills Training teaches individuals with developmental disabilities how to tend to their homes and keep their surroundings healthy and functional, including skills like,
- House cleaning (e.g., mopping, vacuuming)
- Taking out the trash
- Creating a grocery list
- Grocery shopping
- Watering plants
- Doing the laundry and dishes
To guide and teach these skills at home, it’s best to establish chores. What are the tasks that your loved one is wholly responsible for? Follow the techniques below to enforce these tasks.
- Identify the goal of the task (e.g., water the plants so they can grow)
- Model the task for them and have them try after you. (e.g., pour some water into the plant vase, hand the waterer to them to do the same thing)
- Breakdown the task into smaller steps (e.g., “turn clean the house” into “mop the kitchen floor”)
- Provide prompts as they work through the task
The main objective is to simplify the complexity of tasks, allowing individuals to develop skills gradually rather than expecting them to catch on after one attempt.
Success Stories: Life Transformations Through Independent Living Skills Training
Justin’s Story of Wearing His ADHD With Pride
Justin faced challenges from an early age due to ADHD. He not only graduated high school despite being told he might not finish but also went on to pursue a business degree as an adult. However, he continued encountering stigma in his career, impacting his confidence.
In 2013, he found a supportive work environment at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where colleagues embraced his diversity. Now, Justin is part of the Division of Human Development and Disability, promoting health equity for people with disabilities.
Despite a genetic blood clotting disorder, he prioritizes physical activity at work, incorporating short walks and desk exercises into his routine. Justin believes walking meetings contribute to creativity and productivity.
Alexis’ Story of Becoming Miss America as a Woman with ASD
Alexis Wineman, the first woman with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to participate in the Miss America competition, received her PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder- Not Otherwise Specified) diagnosis in middle school.
From a young age, Alexis faced challenges associated with ASD, including a speech impediment, communication difficulties, and sensitivity to sensory stimuli. Alexis emphasizes the crucial support she received from her family, especially her siblings, who played a superhero role in her life. In her advice to autistic individuals, Alexis stresses the importance of patience for siblings and understanding their perspective.
Anita’s Diagnosis and Advocacy for ASD
Anita Lesko, a nurse anesthetist and advocate for individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), discovered her own ASD diagnosis at the age of 50. Her journey reflects the challenges of living with ASD, such as difficulties with social interactions and sensory sensitivities.
Anita emphasizes the importance of advocating for oneself in managing sensory issues. Despite challenges, she highlights unique advantages, including a ‘laser focus’ that contributed to her successful career. Anita’s story demonstrates that individuals with ASD desire fulfilling lives, showcasing the potential for unique strengths and achievements.
Jerry’s Story of Overcoming the Barriers of Physical Disabilities
Jerry, a 53-year-old father of four, successfully balances his life despite an accident from 35 years ago that left him disabled with partial paraplegia. Retired in 2009 from his career as a computer programmer, Jerry actively participates in sports, even completing the Boston Marathon.
Despite the challenges of being a partial paraplegic since a 1976 accident, Jerry embraces life without letting his disability define him. He leads a normal life, supporting his adult children and managing finances wisely, highlighting that he’s neither rich nor poor but values independence and health.
Collaborative Approaches in Skills Training
Like anything, support systems can foster more remarkable and effective growth in skills training. Whether it’s a family member, caregiver, or professional, their role is vital.
Think of the last time you did something entirely on your own without the support of others. Now, think of a time when you collaborated or had support from others while trying to reach a goal. We imagine you felt greater motivation and encouragement when you had people cheering you on.
Creating a Supportive Community Environment
Having one or more developmental disabilities can make a person feel much different from others. This can lead to feeling misunderstood, alone, and anxious around others.
Roman Empire Agency strives to create an environment at our locations that’s inclusive and free of judgment. We also encourage families and caretakers of our consumers to foster this type of setting at home, work, school, etc.
Examples of Supporting Developmentally Disabled Individuals in The Community
- Adding wheelchair accessibility at schools, such as ramps and elevators for individuals with physical disabilities.
- Incorporating closed captioning into presentations to clarify instructions for employees with auditory processing disabilities.
- Conducting community events and campaigns designed to educate the public about developmental disabilities and reduce the stigma.
- Free support groups for individuals with different disabilities so they can talk with like-minded individuals and learn more about themselves.
Integrating Technology in Skills Training
With technology constantly evolving, our options for skills training have expanded significantly. Some of the most accessible technology-based tools used for skills training include:
- Mobile apps (e.g., reminders, step-by-step instructions)
- Smart home technology (voice-activated assistance like Amazon Alexa to control home appliances)
- Online grocery shopping services:
- Makes it easier to find items
- Minimizes anxiety-inducing environments
- Reduces impulse buys
- Eliminates need for transportation (when you opt for delivery)
- Personal Safety Devices (GPS watches and apps to enable location finding)
- Online classes for learning daily skills
Addressing Challenges in Skills Training for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
Learning new skills will always come with obstacles, regardless of who you are and where you’re at in independent living. Some common barriers encountered in independent living skills training include:
- Financial Constraints
- Overcoming this: REA accepts most major insurance. Our team will work alongside you to determine how to get you the best financial support to participate in our services.
- Lack of Support System
- Overcoming this: If you’re looking for services for yourself or a loved one but lack the outer support, we will do our best to compensate for that. Our team is caring and resilient in your journey; we want to see you come out on top.
- Lack of Transporation
Fostering Autonomy and Confidence
At Roman Empire Agency, we stay on top of the newest ABA techniques, assistive technologies, and more. The future is bright and full of opportunities. Contact us today to learn how our program empowers individuals with disabilities. Start today and engage with our professional leaders in developmental disabilities.