Independence and Self-Advocacy
We started making these to help reinforce the concepts or independence skills that were very important. We would write down the skill, the steps needed to do the independent skill, and then adjust as needed: How to clean, how to dust, how to handle a trip to the dentist. It is amazing to me the number of steps (and actual thinking) involved to break down what seems to be a simple skill or concept. Once you do that, it is great to put it on paper and keep it to reference later and reinforce the skill.
After typing them up we would put them together in a composition notebook to use and review as needed. Some of the examples from early on were the steps needed to wash your hair or empty the dishwasher. A current one is a list of some of the phrases one would use at work when you need something to do.
The charts grew and changed with her age, need, current activities or interests. Our composition notebook is on the table as I write this and Elizabeth knows to go look at it when she needs a bit of help to do a task, this also leads to her independence.
We also have smaller charts for the car. These have the things she needed to remember PRIOR to her going into a certain place. So, for example, if she was going to church, the chart would list the things she was to remember to make her as independent and appropriate as possible. This included finding a seat quietly or how to go up to communion. As simple as these may seem, it is the initiation and follow through of the skill that is her struggle. So, reviewing right before helps reinforce what is expected and helps her succeed on her own.
Things That Occur Daily at School
I have always been a big proponent of communication. We started a communication notebook (and check off list) to use for the school. This way we would know what she did well that day at school and what she may have struggled with. Did she pack her backpack herself, did she ask for help when needed, etc…?
These communication sheets helped me to see what independent topics or skills needed to be talked about or added to our charts. I liked that what we were focusing on was current and not outdated. As Elizabeth got older, it was helpful to see what others felt were her needs when she was on her own. Making sure I write it down and know it will not be forgotten, which, for me, means less in my head and more on paper to help keep me calm.
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