Independent travel?” “It’s too scary for us to think about”. “What about risk assessment?” “What about stranger danger?” and on it goes. The result is that some people never get to go anywhere on their own. Yet, many people with support needs do, and do it really well.
So how is it done? How do we teach someone to travel safely? Notice we aren’t teaching people to “travel independently” but teaching them to take the journey they want to make – to work, college or some other activity in the community.
We use a tool from Systematic Instruction (SI) called a Non -Disabled Person’s Inventory (NDPI). This tool allows us to explore the whole journey that someone wants or needs to take and we make decisions about how we will support them to learn.
We start by doing the journey ourselves at the exact time the person will be travelling. We list (inventory) all of the steps of the journey along with the natural cues which tell us we are taking the right steps. For example when we are at a crossing – the green man is the natural cue which tells us it’s safe to walk or when the bus doors open it’s the right step to get on the bus.
We then observe the person undertaking the journey, following closely and only intervening if the person is unsure of a step or is about to make a mistake.
These discrepancies are recorded at the time of occurrence. Decisions on how to provide training on the discrepancies are then recorded andundertaken as the steps occur naturally and are supported through to successful acquisition.
Depending on the risk factors of a journey a criterion is set for how many times a person needs to do all the steps error free before the process of fading support begins.
All of this provides the trainer, the person and family/carers with evidence of competence and assurances of minimised risk and ultimately a confident traveller.