Understanding and Participating in Community

(You can find the full text of the 3LPlace Curriculum section on Community here.)

Community-based learning opportunities give students opportunities to use their emerging personal and interpersonal skills in real-world situations. New awareness ignited on campus continues to evolve and expand. Knowledge about how communities and society work becomes more meaningful as it is experienced first-hand. Social engagement skills have the chance to become more sophisticated as they are applied daily in a variety of situations.

Most people learn best through experience, and this is especially true for individuals on the autism spectrum. Traditional teaching methods such as instruction, discussion, reading, media, and research are important and necessary teaching tools for knowledge acquisition. For the transition student, however, these methods always should be paired with meaningful and applicable experiences useful in daily living, supported by coaching and modeling.

It is within the context of the day-to-day community life that transition students learn to translate knowledge into action, sharpen adaptive and independence skills, and become active, contributing members.

Although most students will have experienced community on a small scale (friends, family, school, therapeutic support team, etc.), many may have yet to explore the wider environment. This module provides a bridge for transition students to expand into their communities, at their own paces, and in their unique styles, and leverages that learning to promote understanding of their place in the large society.

In support of these goals, the Community module has the following objectives:

Understanding Community

  • Understand what a community is,  and what it means to be a member of a community (in some cases several communities)
  • Understand what roles, rules, and infrastructure keep one’s community alive and growing
  • Learn the richness of resources and people that exist in one’s community

Participating in Community

  • Learn to socially navigate a community and interact positively with its members. This includes practicing verbal and behavioral skills needed to navigate spontaneous social interactions
  • Learn to physically navigate one’s community effectively and become more independent
  • Apply content learned in the program into real-life situations
  • Strengthen executive function, creative problem-solving, decision-making, adaptability, and resiliency skills in a wider range of social scenarios
  • Gain skills in using local resources and become more self-advocating and self-determined in seeking information, locating resources, and meeting one’s needs
  • Reframe distortions or biases about places and people through new positive experiences, in doing so strengthening meaningful self-reflection and the ability to reflect on others 
  • Reduce anxiety and dysregulation regarding unexpected factors, crowds and open spaces, strangers and unfamiliar places, unknown outcomes, inability to control one’s environment
  • Increase ability to establish and improve relationships with community members
  • Identify and establish community mentors, partnerships, and allies
  • Strengthen and widen affinities, interests, and passions, and discover new ways to leverage them into increased community involvement and social relationships
  • Set educational, career, recreational, social, executive function, self-regulation, and other personal goals that can be worked on within the community and with community members
  • Create community-based, collaborative endeavors to use as vehicles for interacting with community members, skill-building, and expressing creativity and passions

Understanding and Participating in Society

  • Strengthen current passions and interests (research, field trips, activities, discussions, projects)
  • Use curiosity to awaken new interests and passions (watching a documentary, following the news, interviewing people)
  • Build independence (self-advocacy, making life decisions, voting, citizenship)
  • Increase community participation (attending a rally, lecture, or cultural performance, visiting the state capitol)
  • Bolster executive function skills (writing a letter to the President, planning a project to raise money for a societal cause, planning a trip)
  • Raise awareness of how our actions affect others (recycling, volunteerism)
  • Develop and expand work and career options
  • Create a bank of topics for conversation with others
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3LPlace Curriculum Wiki