Training regarding daily living skills is a tricky business that varies greatly from individual to individual. It is a process that involves multiple steps that must occur one at a time, and in the proper order. First, a thorough skills assessment must be completed that identifies strengths, areas for improvement, and is also yields realistic information about pre-requisite skills (or the lack thereof) that are necessary for training in any one area. For example, we would not identify a training goal of learning to cross the street safely and independently for an individual who is blind and in a wheelchair. Once needs accurate training needs are determined, a service planning or interdisciplinary team will make decisions, with overriding input from the family, about what training areas are priority. Sometimes if a particular privilege is restricted due to lack of necessary skills (e.g., making a purchase independently), we may suggest related skill training toward the eventual lifting of that restriction. Once realistic areas are identified for skill development, we develop a plan for training that involves breaking the skill down into logical steps (e.g., taking the cap off of the toothpaste tube), and training toward independence on that step…gradually fading the staff’s assistance until that step is mastered. Then, we move on to the next step in the task. It’s important to provide lots of verbal praise for all efforts, regardless of whether the attempt was successful…the process must be made to be fun and enjoyable in order for individuals to be motivated to participate in skill development. It may take a long time, but eventually a skill can be mastered by anyone with this step-by-step approach, as long as the individual has the pre-requisite abilities necessary.

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