By: Judy Saunders (Intake Coordinator/Supervisor)
For many of our Superheroes, the handling of “downtime” or unstructured time can be one of the most challenging times of the day. School or perhaps a day program has provided routine and structure in a supportive environment. In some cases, individuals may participate in competitive employment or volunteer opportunities within the community where expectations are clear, tasks are clearly defined; days and hours are scheduled. In addition, social opportunities and peer groups are an integral part of their day.
When they return home, the lack of structure can be overwhelming often leading to isolation, anxiety and regressive behaviors. Very often, parents at the end of their day begin the task of trying to identify and implement routines.
Sidekicks provide that valuable opportunity to add structure and routine to aspects of a Superhero’s day. Weekly schedules that include community integration and daily living skills lend goal oriented experiences culminating in productive and positive outcomes. There is so much potential for learning, growth and relationship building during supported “downtime.”
Being out in the community also helps reinforce and transfer skills such as money handling, social skills and maintaining appropriate hygiene. In addition, developing greater tolerance to those sensory and environmental stimuli that can often cause maladaptive behaviors can lead to increased self-esteem and greater self-awareness.
Just as important, the ability to make choices and invest in decision making and planning gives control and autonomy in the process. This gives way to self-satisfaction and enjoyment.
Learning how to manage “downtime” is hard. It requires time management, judgement, executive functioning and social skills to name few.
When families work together with their Sidekicks many of these skills will be addressed and Superheroes can rise to the highest level of expectation. That’s the upshot of supported downtime!