4 reasons why OTs should teach life skills in your home & community

Jane Hannafin, MS, OTR/L, RYT is the director of Skills for Life, a program of the Ivy Street School. In this post, she shares her thoughts on the pressing need for more in-home therapy options for young adults with disabilities and their families.

1) There’s No Place Like Home

The home environment provides the kind of familiarity and personal context that other settings lack. This factor alone may optimize learning, increase engagement and support the integration of skills inside and outside the home. In fact, “learn what matters, where it matters” is not only our program’s tagline, but it’s the bottom line when it comes to realizing personal goals and gaining skills.


2) Individualized Independence

When families and occupational therapists (OTs) collaborate to set person-centered goals, they can ensure those goals are individualized, relevant, attainable and meaningful. The focus must be on increasing independence within the context of young adult opportunities. Personal goals such as cooking a meal, organizing a room, writing a resume and seeking social opportunities can and should be done in home and community-based settings.


3) Steering Your Own Ship - With Support

Rather than having conversations about what a young adult could do at home or in the community once they leave the clinic or classroom, OTs are right there alongside them as they navigate the uncharted waters of their local grocery store, laundromat or RMV. OTs support your child’s ability to be an agent of change in their own lives and facilitate opportunities for and with them. As young adults build skills, therapists fade their support.


4) Family Ties

Changing the habits and routines in a family system can be hard! In order to carefully support the shift in responsibilities from parent to young adult, OTs need to have a firsthand understanding of the expectations at home. This way, therapists can support the gradual transition in a manner that suits the family’s needs.

Skills for Life brings licensed occupational therapists to the homes and communities of young adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) ages 16-26 to help them gain the skills they need for young adulthood. They are based in Brookline and work within a 40-mile radius of their office. Call them at 617-879-0305 for a free consultation.


Skills for Life is a program of the Ivy Street School in Brookline, which serves students with ASD who are seeking a year of transition support in preparation for an independent adult life. Its population of students include those who are looking to finish a high school diploma, achieve gainful employment, and/or pursue post-secondary education.