Starting Early With Pre-Vocational Skills
Parents can’t stress enough how crucial pre-vocational skills must play a part in their child’s education. Their only wish is for their children to obtain the best skill set they can by being as independent as they can once they are adults.
Our occupational therapy related services curriculum is mostly comprised of pre-vocational skills. They are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced level tasks. Just what are pre-vocational skills?
At first, students learn to sort and package. As they grow older, they learn to place materials in sequence to be assembled, working in a left to right progression. Eventually, a time component is introduced so that they may become more productive and increase their endurance. The goal is to have our students prepared to access and take full advantage of vocational curriculum, internships, and community placement. To do this, they must demonstrate the following skills:
It is essential that students understand and accept what are ‘work times’ and what are ‘relax times.’
Sustaining attention for durations of time of at least 15 minutes is essential. Suggestions and corrections need to be recognized and accepted.
Life skills that begin early, such as hygiene, are just as important as ever, at this stage. We make sure students continue to attend to personal cleanliness. Once they are on the job, this extends to any dress code that might apply.
Anxiety, frustration, and anger are feelings we all experience on the job. Individuals with special needs must work especially hard to not only recognize these feelings on their own but to know how to navigate through them properly. They will also encounter plenty of tasks they are not enthused about having to do. They must learn to do them without complaining, arguing or negotiating. If they become overwhelmed, they must ask for help.
Individuals with special needs must be prepared to indicate preferences in addition to self-advocating. Prompts will not always be given, so they must be able to act without them. However, they should always feel comfortable enough to ask for accommodations. Making goals is always a huge help.
No matter how old they get, they are still your children. Any parent understands this. That is why we again emphasize safety, especially looking after their own. Depending upon the job, there can be onsite and job-related hazards that the student needs to be aware of. For example, are they working with tools, lifting, or around motorized vehicles? In addition, they should always be wary of strangers and unwanted advances. Protocol for emergencies can never be stressed enough.
By age 16, our goal is to begin with the next level of skills. Students will learn how to get a job, learn how to do that job and how to keep it. This means we have a lot to do up until then. We understand that the parents of our students have already been under pressure, well before the need for these skills even come into play. A baton, of sorts, is passed. Although, parents are never expected to let go completely. It is with great pride and joy, however, that we share this journey with them. The journey of independence may not be an easy road, but the rewards are priceless for both the child and the parent(s). Small steps, strategies and the support of a specialized program based upon the student's needs is a step in the right direction.
Alpha School an private special education school in New Jersey
Our Mission at The Alpha School is to help all of our special needs students with the learning, social, language, and behavioral support they deserve. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student to becoming the best they can while providing a safe and nurturing educational environment.
We would be more than happy to discuss your child’s specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.370.1150, or request a tour of Alpha School of Jackson, NJ located just minutes off of Route 9 and Route 195 in Ocean County.
— Monica DeTuro, Principal-Alpha School, Jackson, NJ