Category Archives: Social Skills

“Linking Learning to Life”: Strengthening Transition Skills

A Pennsylvania School District has implemented a program that helps students develop employment and independent living skills.  Partnered with local businesses, the district High School has created an on site classroom that provides simulated experiences and career coaching.

Learning to Life (LLtL) is a two-tier secondary transition designed to aid students in making the progression from the classroom to post-school life. Activities are based on the individual’s needs, ranging from those with mild disabilities to students with more significant needs who require extensive support, and consider his or her strengths, preferences and interests.

“The majority of our services were previously contracted with outside providers,” said DiMarino-Linnen. “They tended to be ‘one size fits all’ and students were oriented to a community that was not their own.”

To address the concerns, LLtL considers the various paths students will take in the months and years after high school. For some, the focus is on independent living; for others, post-secondary competitive employment, trade school or college. Planning begins no later than the first IEP when the student turns 14, with a team which can involve the individual, parents, general and special education personnel and an agency representative. Issues such as course selection and the extended school year (ESY) program are addressed.

Read the article here.

Using Peers to Teach Real World Skills

Students in this school have formed a social club to integrate students with disabilities with students without disabilities in an effort to develop the social skills that are crucial to surviving in the adult world. (San Jose Mercurcy News, January 28, 2014)

Every Tuesday on the Oceana High School campus in Pacifica, the Social Club meets, has lunch together and plays games. With 30 kids in the club, it is one of the largest clubs on campus. While the club’s activities sound typical, groundbreaking is the better word, for the Social Club integrates the school’s special education students — higher functioning teens with autism as well as teens with intellectual developmental disabilities — with mainstream students. It is a dream come true for Lisa Sanchez, the school’s speech and language pathologist. Though the dream is bigger yet.

“My dream is to have an integrated campus,” Sanchez said, “where special ed kids are in classes with the general ed students. This is one step closer.”

This is Sanchez’s first year working at the high school. She arrives with 14 years of experience as a speech pathologist. Immediately prior to Oceana, Sanchez worked in Santa Clara County, providing speech therapy to infants through young adults (age 22).

The kids in the Social Club play “team building” games like Pictionary and Charades.

“Some of the games are ice breakers,” Sanchez said. “To get to know each other better, there are games where students ask interview questions. Many of these special education kids have disabilities that impair them from having appropriate peer relationships. That is part of their disability. My purpose is to gear these special education kids for real life, to help them have appropriate relationships out in the real world. I am also hoping to provide these kids with a social high school experience, a normal high school experience.”

….”My sister [born with spina bifida] is dependent on my mom,” Sanchez said. “And she, like most of the kids in our program, will be dependent on family members for the rest of her life. I don’t think people are aware that many of these children will not be able to live independently. I made a promise to myself early on to help integrate people with disabilities, into the world of people with abilities.”

Read the article here.


Ten Minutes with Temple Grandin

This interview is from June, 2010 with Temple Grandin.  She discusses what needs to be done for students with autism to get them prepared for their future.

In the world of Autism, Temple Grandin is a legend. She has singularly contributed more to science’s knowledge of autism than any other one individual. There’s a reason she’s #23 on Time’s list of 100 Most Influential People… and that Hollywood is producing movies about her.

After her speaking engagement at a Future Horizon’s conference here in Minneapolis today, Temple and I had an intense, 10 minutes conversation. We touched on a number of her favorite subjects including autism as a gift, preparing future autists for successful careers, her movie, key learnings about autism and more.