COMPLETE GUIDE ON HOW TO TRAIN CHILDREN WITH AN INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY TO TRAVEL SAFELY & INDEPENDENTLY
For those growing up with an intellectual disability or autism, safe and independent travel will prove an invaluable life skill. Dr Gallimore’s straightforward five-step system will guide parents and professionals through successful training for children of any age and ability. It is necessary reading for anyone working with a child to get them on their path to independent travel.
With over 30 years of travel-training experience and psychology expertise, Travel-Training Solutions work individually with people and their support workers. We also provide parents and professionals with mentoring, knowledge and confidence to engage in and deliver a range of safe and effective mobility programs.
There are a number of myths surrounding travel-training that we’ve noticed over the years. Almost always when we receive an enquiry from a teacher or parent and initially talk with them, it’s often some or all of these five myths that need to be dispelled.
Myth #1: Anyone can teach travel-training skills without being trained.
This, unfortunately, is not the case. There are numerous specialised techniques, approaches, and tips involved in travel-training that the trainer needs to learn for a student’s long-term success. If they miss out on this information, then they cannot apply it to their travel-training programs.
Myth #2: Travel-training starts in high school.
Travel-training can start at any age – the earlier the better. In fact, we’ve worked with babies with multiple disabilities. With very young children you can continue teaching and modelling the many essential ‘foundation skills’ in preparation for safe travel, road crossing, public transport travel, and other complex scenarios in later years.
Myth #3: Travel-training a student only takes a few weeks.
Regardless of the goal of the training program, for this to be achieved safely and the skills retained by the student, it might take weeks or months to complete a program. It can be done though in simple easy-to-achieve steps.
Myth #4: Even if a student has never travelled alone, he can start travel-training on public transport.
If a student has never travelled alone (i.e., independently), then the first travel-training priority is to develop foundation skills such as the way to purchase an item confidently whilst alone in a shop and the way to seek assistance when needed. These skills and others will assist the student (and family) to develop self-confidence and equip him to cope with the many confronting situations that will inevitably arise when travelling in more complex situations in future.
Myth #5: You only have to observe a student travelling a few times, and then they can travel by themselves.
Even if you believe a student has learnt the way to get to a particular destination on her own and you have observed the student make this journey a few times, there is a specific and measured process to know when to withdraw or ‘fade-out’ from the program. This process will allow you time to observe whether or not the student has actually acquired the skills you taught and if she can use the skills when genuinely needed. For example, does the student: use the mobile phone in an emergency? Cope when the bus gets diverted? Cross roads safely every single time? Find the way home if she is initially lost? If you fade-out slowly in a measured way, then there will be plenty of opportunities to observe whether or not the student applies these skills 100% of the time.