HMS’s full-time and part-time social workers specialize in counseling children with special needs and their families. They provide support to students, families and staff. An advocate for students, they connect families with community resources and benefits and helps them to navigate the social-service system. They ease the transition when a student enrolls at HMS and when the student leaves at graduation or for another placement.
The social workers facilitate the interdisciplinary team process, keeping communication lines open among all parties. When a child is ill or hospitalized, they communicate regularly with their family, maintaining the connection between school and home.
Our multidisciplinary collaborative team — including parents and representatives of the students’ community agencies — identifies goals and experiences that will best prepare our students for active adult lives. At age 14 each student begins participating in functional life skills (FLS) group. The curriculum for FLS was developed to meet the observed and reported needs of graduates in post 21 residential, social and volunteer environments. Individual goals and objectives emphasize making the most of time remaining in a school program, including use of assistive technology for maximizing instruction and independence. We work on life skills such as gaining internet access for interpersonal communication, information, consumer activities, using an adapted telephone and establishing contacts in the greater disability community. We also focus on developing self-protection skills, directing personal care staff, and ways to get involved in their community. We create experiences designed to foster independence by identifying ways to be independent even when students are totally physically dependent on other people. In this regard we also have the students discuss/explore what it means to have CP and participate in the CIRCLES program of self-protection, intimacy and developing relationships, and making and keeping friends.
A vital element of the move to increase social opportunities outside of the family, our residential program prepares students for living away from home, directing caregivers and identifying and accessing leisure interests. Advocacy, self-awareness and self-protection, community experience, as well as opportunities with creative arts, support our education program curriculum.
Our transition specialist assists parents with navigating the systems for life after age 21 for their child. We provide an outline of what to look for every year from age 14 until transition out of school, focusing on everything from medical and emotional transition, to equipment (acquisition of, use and maintenance), training of others, opportunities to be involved with others and having access to leisure activities.