WHAT DOES INDEPENDENT LIVING SKILLS INCORPORATE?
Living independently for the first time can be overwhelming. With CLE supports, students are introduced to the responsibilities of managing all aspect of their lives while living on their own for the first time. While students live in an apartment with a roommate, they receive instruction in the areas of financial management, personal hygiene, health and wellness, community access, and with public transportation mobility training. ILS services are based upon each student’s individual trajectory, rather than a one size fits all approach. We recognize that all of our students are working to explore living away from home and it is our role to guide them as they build confidence and competency in all aspects of daily living.
Setting the Stage for Success
Why is it essential to consider ILS programming as a student role as a student and employee?
The ability to successfully develop Independent Living Skills transcends across many environments including home, community, school and the workplace. Oftentimes we are asked: why it would be necessary to have ILS skills a part of a students programming? The answer is simple, we see daily, how compromised ILS skills in interfere with the ability to be successful in other arenas of ones life. For example:
- An established independent morning routine affects being on time
- Proper hygiene influences peer acceptance
- Medication adherence affects overall health and focus
- Adequate nutrition compromises stamina
- Planning and organizing challenges affect adhering to a schedule and executing all tasks
Beyond the Daily Activities
Why would I need additional help when I feel like I have a grasp of my activities of daily living?
A large part of ILS skills is commonly associated with activities of daily living such as cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and managing personal hygiene; we see those as foundational skills and just the start of living on their own. Our comprehensive ILS Inventory covers nine different areas of independent living which extends to higher level skills outside of the home such as transportation, community resources, legal issues and citizenship, housing and emergency skills. In addition, a Financial Inventory tracks progress over time in learning financial literacy skills, one of the areas parents share with us they have the greatest level of concern over their students independence.
ILS is not just about the knowledge of knowing about each skill, it can be about having the organizational skills and higher order thinking to negotiate new situations, execute them accurately and generalize across settings. Demonstration of skills that were routine at home may not occur immediately in a new setting and require re-teaching. Generalizing skills to a new setting can be a challenge for skills previously learned at home, and those they learn at CLE and it is our role to guide them through this.
Creating a supportive and Safe Setting
How do I know if living in an apartment provides the right level of support and safety?
Apartment living provides an incomparable learning setting for our students and provides meaningful educational opportunities for college age students. In contrast to living in a dormitory, apartment living allows for exposure to a greater set of skills to manage and exposure to more skills that mirror life after college.
To maintain comfort and safety, students live with a roommate at an apartment near campus along with other CLE students and a Resident Advisor (RA). While CLE is not a 24/7 program, students can access the RA or on-call staff support as needed to address daily and unique situations that arise from forgetting your keys to needing assistance when you are sick.
All individuals utilize various types of supports within their family, friends and community to support being successful independently. In a persons household you may divide chores, bill paying, errands, or cooking based on each family members strengths and ability to contribute. For a person with disabilities, learning to live on their own the same reflection can take place to identify which aspects of daily living will be truly independent vs those which may require ongoing coaching or support by others.
Nobody has to be completely independent; independence is a term relative to maximizing ones ability to use their own skills but also having recognition to lean on others for particular areas of their life.