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Striving to independence

The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility and the wings of independence.” – Denis Watley

Being independent as a student with special needs can be challenging, but it is also an important task to accomplish. Carla Bester, Occupational Therapist (OT) has been working with a group of students at Glenthorne High School to improve their independence skills focusing on using public transport.

The importance of students with SEND being independent in life is essential for safety, wellbeing, and the ability to control their direction in life. The ability to be independent is a fundamental skill that allows a person to thrive and reach their full potential. An individual who is able to look after themselves, manage their own time and resources and make decisions independently is more likely to succeed.

For this reason, it is essential that we, as Occupational Therapists ensure our students have the right support and guidance to foster their independence skills. Additionally, providing the appropriate resources and making modifications to the learning environment can help foster independence. Carla has provided weekly training in the school term on aspects of independence including activities like problem-solving, communication skills, daily living skills, using public transport and managing money. Carla provided meaningful opportunities for practice and repetition. With practice and guidance, after a day trip to Sutton High Street, one of the students who developed their skills and self-confidence is now using public transport as a means to travel to and from school independently.

The student mentioned that the independence training helped him to become more organised by teaching him how to plan for his journey and anticipate the route of the bus. Before the training, he had never taken the bus alone, and after completing the training, he was able to take the bus, independently and confidently while changing over to another bus to get to and from school. The training has also helped him develop essential attitudes such as having a positive outlook and being confident in the community.

His parents commented, “We are very pleased that he is now commuting from school independently (he actually has to change buses, so takes 2 buses to get home!) It has made a huge difference to our lives as we don’t have to worry about after school childcare anymore and it has also been great for his self-confidence. Thanks a lot, to the OT team for all your help.”

The importance of students with SEND being independent in life cannot be understated. Being independent is a basic life skill that everyone should possess. Teaching our students to be independent helps them to take control of their lives and become more self-sufficient. It also provides them with a sense of accomplishment and builds confidence. One of the most important benefits of helping our students to be independent is that it can make them feel more accepted in society. Independence teaches them to make their own decisions, have a voice in the world, and create meaningful relationships. When they learn to be independent, they can develop a sense of autonomy and empowerment.

Cognus Therapies seeks to provide evidence-based advice, support and guidance to schools and parents, in order to enable them to help their children reach their full potential. This is part of our work with children and young people, in line with the Preparing for Adulthood agenda. Follow our link below to learn more about our universal support to empower your child at school and at home.

Graduated Response for education based therapeutic support – Cognus