Building on Daily Living and Communication
After making the announcement, Tyler and Jasmine both headed out of the front office and walked down the hallway towards the school store to prepare for the incoming customers.
Open daily, students aged 14 and older become fully responsible for the store as part of their educational transition to adulthood. The store is operated by students from four classes with the support of Transition Coordinator, Jennifer Fazio.
“Each of the children has goals, fine motor, gross motor, food prep, and housekeeping. They have four or more goals we work on improving each year,” said Jennifer. She collaborates with the teachers to ensure each child works on their targeted goals while prepping the store.
The store’s menu is posted on the door for reference and around the building. Orders are placed the day before, for pick-up at the next day’s lunchtime.
On Mondays, students go shopping and gather all that is needed to operate the store for the week. Next comes the daily preparation to get the store ready for customers. The children do everything from chopping veggies to mixing mac and cheese. Jennifer assists by placing prepared foods in the oven for cooking. After food prep, they learn to clean up their space, rinse items to place in the dishwasher, and put ingredients in their proper places—bread in the pantry, butter, and carrots in the fridge.
These “Activities of Daily Living” (ADL) are worked on along with maintenance skills, which help students increase their independence. It’s also a bonus for parents, as children are better able to participate in household chores.
After food prep, it’s back to class for students, except for the student tasked with greeting customers and fulfilling orders. Today was Tyler’s turn. He along with Jennifer and Jasmine set up the storefront to prepare for the hungry customers. Tyler has been working closely with his speech teacher who sees the school store as an opportunity for children to develop their communication skills.
“Since the beginning of the year, his skills have improved. It’s an exciting way for him to learn the ability to ask peers questions, facilitate conversations and learn to follow directions,” said Jasmine. “Since the beginning of the year, his skills have improved.”