Autism Resources

Community Safety Skills – National Safety Month 2015

Joshua Sleeper June 4, 2015

What are Community Safety Skills?

Community Safety Skills are any skills that an individual needs to be safe and independent in the community setting. Some examples are:

  • How to cross the street safely
  • Community sign identification
  • Staying near a parent or in a designated location and holding hands
  • Abduction prevention
  • Local navigation and transportation
  • Tolerance of items/sounds/places in the community

Why are Community Safety Skills important?

Individuals who do not readily learn these skills and lack these skills are at a much greater risk for harm and serious injury. Teaching these skills allows our clients to lead more independent lives that will help them access and be a part of their community.

How do we teach these skills?

At Trumpet Behavioral Heath we teach community safety skills using evidence based procedures to ensure our clients are engaging in the correct safety behaviors when outside their home. We teach these skills through the basic principles of behavior:

  • Reinforcement:
    • Providing a preferred item upon a correct response.
  • Task Analysis:
    • Breaking the complex chain of behaviors into smaller, simpler tasks that can more easily be taught.
  • Prompting:
    • Any help given to the individual that increases the likelihood of a correct response.
    • Model prompts– The teacher models the correct behavior and instructs the child to engage in the correct behavior.
    • Video modeling The child is directed to watch a video of the behavior and asked to perform the same behavior.
  • Behavioral Skills Training (BST):
    • A 4-step procedure used to teach a variety of skills including safety skill
    • Instruction– a lecture conveyed in a didactic manner. Instruction should be specific descriptions of what is desired from the learner. Instructions should specify the components in a behavior chain exactly as they are expected from the learner and in the proper sequence. Though this is a critical component, instruction alone is rarely enough to ensure the client engages in the correct behavior.
    • Model– Modeling typically consists of the instructor demonstrating the correct behavior for the learner. The purpose of modeling is for the learner to observe the correct behavior so that he or she may imitate it.
    • Rehearsal/Role Play/Feedback– Behavior rehearsal is the opportunity for the learner to demonstrate the behavior learned through instructions and modeling. This is a crucial step because it is the only way for the teacher to be sure that the learner can demonstrate the correct behavior. It allows for an opportunity to reinforce the behavior, and it provides an opportunity to correct errors (feedback).
    • In situAssessment An evaluation of the client’s performance set up by the teacher in the natural environment without the client’s knowledge. The component shows the teacher if the client can engage in the correct behavior without additional support. It also allows an opportunity to step in if an error made and teach in the natural environment which evaluates generalization of the skill.
  • Desensitization (fear of dogs, dentist, airports, buses):
    • A systematic, gradual approach to exposing the client to aversive stimuli in their community.
  • Parent Training & Collaboration with the Community:
    • A vital piece of teaching community safety skills is teaching the parents effective methods to ensure their child continues to learn appropriate community safety behaviors. In addition, incorporating the settings the child will be accessing in their community during teaching will promote acquisition of these skills.

Final Conclusion:

Some individuals don’t readily learn community safety skills from their natural environment. Therefore, it is important to teach these skills using evidence based methods and to collaborate with parents and community members. At Trumpet, we aim to teach these skills in order to promote client safety, awareness and independence.