Part of life is being able to function within the community. Our community includes the school we attend, the places we go daily, the work place and places we go for recreation. Often times, children with disabilities have a difficult time integrating into the community. Deficits in problem solving, language impairments, decreased awareness of safety, social skills impairments and physical impairments impact a child's ability to interact safely and appropriately in environments. Everyday things that seem to be common for the person without learning impairments can be quite a challenge for the child with learning deficits.
Because occupational therapists treat clients from a holistic approach, observing, assessing and assisting students in the community is an important part of the their role. One way that occupational therapists assist in this area is taking students on community outings. Preparation for the outings begins before the student ever leaves school with teaching the necessary skills needed for the trip. In the case of going to the grocery store, the task begins with preparing a grocery list, teaching areas of the grocery store, setting up with a budget, teaching parking lot and stranger safety, and then taking students to the grocery store to buy their list of groceries.
Community outings to stores help the students learn the process involved in having to plan for transportation, time management needed to do the task, problem solving for social or emergency situations and using compensatory strategies to locate items at the store by reading labels and signs. Other than grocery shopping, at ACCESS, occupational therapists also take advantage of chaperoning teen activities such as going out to eat, bowling, going to the movies, camping and dances.