Our son Max has been a client of the Geneva Centre West for the past two years. He has now graduated and has fully transitioned into regular school. He has made great strides while attending this program, but one thing that we felt challenged with was the ability to apply what he learned into everyday life.
When Max was younger we would often take walks in our neighbourhood to the parks and to the subway to watch the buses. As he got older, this started to become tricky for us. A simple walk had become very difficult as he was very stubborn about taking a certain direction that would usually lead us to a store to buy him something that he wanted. Max would erratically change directions, drag us into traffic, and we eventually did not feel safe. It often became a scene and as a result we did not walk anywhere, at least not alone. We drove to our destinations. He has become much better at communicating what he wants now and where he wants to go. We discovered that Max has a great memory for places he likes. Through TPAS we have learned that he is a visual learner.
Over the last few months TPAS has given us the opportunity to work with them at home and in the community using a visual schedule. This has completely changed the way we do things with Max. They helped us to set up and apply a home schedule for him to work on, that gives us a chance to do some things that we need to do while keeping him engaged in his work. This has been crucial in helping him to continue his studies at home, and a way for us as parents to work with him.
Following this we started taking trips into the community using a visual schedule. We tried several scenarios that we would have normally had trouble with. For example, walking to and from the park without stopping anywhere for a treat, walking in our neighbourhood, going to the doctor, dentist, barber, and the mall were all challenges. We are now able to visit the doctor, sit in the waiting room, have an examination and get an x-ray with the help of the visual schedule. We can now go to the dentist without the schedule and he will tolerate scrapping, brushing and inspection of his teeth. Sometimes he will even let them apply fluoride treatments. The barber still requires some extra work, and his TPAS teachers have recently incorporated a timer to help us with this. We will be taking a trip in the coming days with support to get a passport picture taken. In the past this has been a real challenge, but we are more confident now and more willing to try something new.
Having the opportunity to work with our TPAS coaches over the summer has been life changing for us. We still have our day to day struggles with Max, but we have now been given valuable real life strategies to apply. Learning these skills in a school environment have been extremely important in Max’s development; however, the application of these skills in the community and at home have been just as valuable.
Bill M. & Laura F.