The Children's Institute Blog

Transition Tuesday: Luke's Deliveries

Posted: May 22, 2018 by The Children's Institute

Bob Russell, a Work ETC teacher in The Day School at The Children’s Institute, gives a simple instruction to student Luke Recker.

“Today, we have some big things – Luke, are you all set up with your words?” he asks.

Luke smiles widely, then nods.

Luke has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and speaks, largely, through an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device. But that doesn’t stop the JobSpan participant from delivering the mail throughout Children’s Institute’s Squirrel Hill campus every Wednesday morning.

First stop – teacher Christen Negich. At first, there is silence as Luke works to hand her a small package.

“Type it in,” Russell says, guiding him.

“I have a delivery for you,” Luke says, through his device.

Russell said the weekly task, a part of Luke’s work with the school’s JobSpan program, is multi-faceted for Luke, who is in his first year at The Day School.

“It’s one of his goals – to learn his way around, but also to work on his driving skills, plus the communication skills,” Russell said. “The navigation, he does very well. It’s about locating places, because the building is brand-new to him. And he has to position himself, when delivering mail, in just such a way.”

Watching Luke almost imitate a parallel-parking job while moving his wheelchair up to a wall-mounted mailbox, it’s clear this is no easy task for the teenager.

Lisa Paglia, a community-based instruction facilitator in the program, says it’s all part of the bigger plan, which teaches kids like Luke skills they can use once they graduate.

“Our students are working on building in-house jobs skills, and out in the community volunteering with community-based instruction coaches, and The Day School assists them in building a strong skill set that will help them be successful at their day programs,” she said. “And it will assist the staff at the day programs knowing that our students are prepared.”

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