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Stories: A checklist for life skills

Growing Up Ready targets the real-world experiences children with disabilities often miss out on

Children with disabilities often miss out on real-world learning that helps typical children become more independent.

Because they face extra challenges, parents may protect kids with disabilities from making decisions, taking risks and facing consequences, which puts them at a real disadvantage when they enter the adult world.

Growing Up Ready is a multi-faceted program at Bloorview Kids Rehab to help families understand the everyday experiences and skills their children need to become mature, confident adults - and how to access them.

At the centre of the Growing Up Ready program is a timetable and checklists to make parents aware of the activities their child needs to be involved in at different ages and stages.

The timetable covers social and recreation activities, everyday skills like brushing teeth and household chores, teaching children about their health needs and how to advocate for them, and how to nurture interest in work experiences and a career.

“The checklists help families identify what areas their child needs to work on and can be a starting point for discussion with professionals if parents aren’t sure about how to introduce a concept or activity,” says Carie Gall, occupational therapist with Bloorview’s Life Skills and Wellness Institute.

Growing Up Ready provides education sessions led by facilitators who are themselves parents of kids with disabilities, so that families can network with other families going through similar things. “It’s helpful to talk to another parent who understands firsthand the challenges you face,” Carie says.

Bloorview’s Life Skills and Wellness Institute complements the Growing Up Ready program with a wide range of recreation, creative, mentorship and skill-building programs for children aged seven and up.

At the tail end of the program is a demonstration clinic run by Bloorview and Toronto Rehab that aims to smooth the transition from children’s to adult rehab services for teenagers, offering comprehensive, co-ordinated care with a network of specialists experienced in childhood-onset disabilities.

Rehab centres in Sweden, Ireland, the United States and Canada have adopted elements of Growing Up Ready, and Ontario health accreditation surveyors recently identified it as a best practice in transitioning children with disabilities to adulthood.

The Bloorview program was supported with a $500,000 gift from RBC Foundation.


Growing Up Ready Timetable & Checklists


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