Naples home devoted to teaching independent living skills to students with cognitive learning disabilities

NAPLES, Fla. — The Collier County Public School District opened its first-ever home to teach independent living skills to students with cognitive learning disabilities.

Emily Kafle, the Director of Special Education for the Collier County Public School District says “The mission really is to have an authentic space for students to practice the areas of transitional living skills.”

Students ages 18-22 years old come to the house with teachers and program assistants who are with the students as they practice independent living skills like making beds, laundry, cleaning, cooking, and organizing.

“It’s wonderful watching all the things the kids can do,” said Lisa, a Naples High School teacher in the Exceptional Student Education (ESC) department.

“These are the things you don’t really see in the classroom, you don’t see them making beds, you don’t see them hanging up laundry,” Lisa said.

Lisa shared that one of her students who first started did not know how to hang clothes up, and now he got the hang of it.

“He may need some help, at times, but he still knows what he is doing and it’s such a rewarding feeling seeing their progress,” said Lisa

Kafle told us part of what makes this program so special to her is hearing the stories from the teachers, “The students who walk in, kick off their shoes and say, ‘I’m home.’ they not only are practicing a lot of the discreet skills for successful independent living but they are also practicing and learning social skills and communication. They’re celebrating holidays, birthdays and decorating.”

Kafle said that as much as we try to have this authentic and genuine experience, the kind of experience this home brings cannot be created in a classroom.

“Having that home setting for students will really make the difference for them to be successful once they leave the public school system,” said Kafle

A Naples High school teacher shared that an effective approach with students is an individual approach.

“You might stand back and not touch and not say a thing and just watch and see what they do.” she said, “You really have to just know their needs and care.”

The Independent Living Skills Lab holds around 100 students from five different high schools. Students are split up into groups, and the lesson times range from 2-to 4 hours each day.

For more information on the program head to the Collier County Public School District website here.

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