EMPLOYABILITY, LIFE SKILLS AND SOCIAL SKILLS
Life Skills: Living well and independently requires a wide variety of skills that an individual may learn better if their learning style or mental health challenge is accommodated. Open Sky’s Functional Skills Assessment process identifies where the strengths and gaps are, then designs an individualized program to meet the necessary learning goals. Open Sky provides structured teaching for such skills in experiential settings, e.g. in the kitchen, laundry, bathroom; in the gardens and farm; in the community. As initial skills are accomplished, new skills are added on, until the individual has achieved their personal goals.
Social Skills: For many autistic people, their ability to manage social situations is the ‘make or break’ factor for success in social or workplace situations. Open Sky utilizes best practices for teaching social skills, including providing a wide variety of situations in which to practice. Interestingly, poor social skills may be related to other challenges of autism, such as interoception. Open Sky is fortunate to have the skilled support of a Speech-Language Pathologist to inform social skills programming.
Employability: Getting and keeping a job can be a challenge, so Open Sky offers a healthy mix of mental health, social and functional skills-building to prepare participants for employment.
BYOB – Be Your Own Boss Employment Program: This is Open Sky’s keystone employment development program that is designed to meet diverse mental health and disability needs, preparing participants for either employment or self-employment. Offered in partnership with provincial co-operative business development organizations, this program especially prioritizes the creation of new co-operative businesses. In a co-operative business, owner-members can create the type of workplace and relationships they prefer, so that employment is managed more easily. An example of a business that Open Sky helped to foster is Powerhouse Co-operative Ltd., that offers several business lines: house cleaning, business cleaning, car cleaning and municipal crossing guard services.