Community Immersion

Boys visiting museum during a community immersion activity

Community Immersion Activities at Weekend Respite House

In the past few months we have worked harder to prioritize opportunities for our Weekend Respite House guests to get out and about in the community. Sometimes this takes a bit more preparation and even a bit of resourcefulness. This usually relates to where we might be going, transportation issues and in some cases finding locations which would meet the needs/interests of all of our guests. (Sometimes with the right staffing ratio we can divide and conquer and make sure that our guests get to have an experience targeted to their ability level.)

Special challenges related to unexpected behaviors during community immersion activites are not unlike what a parent might experience when taking his or her child to the grocery store. Somehow they know when you, as the parent or responsible party, are vulnerable to public displays of misbehavior. In the case of our guests at Weekend Respite House, we know that many times their behaviors are rooted in some discomfort related to a break in a predictable routine. The good news is that with our training and the proper mindset we successfully navigate most of these potentially difficult situations.

Managing Behaviors During Community Immersion Activities

Here is our best advice on managing a public (or private) behavioral situation:
1. Be vigilant for early cues that there might be some discomfort, frustration or confusion brewing.
2. When faced with a difficult behavior make a conscious effort to take a few deep breaths and use a calm and clear response in a soft, but firm, voice.
3. Make sure you are using compassion to understand the cause of the discomfort.
4. Refrain from confronting and/or arguing with a distressed person, instead creatively and cheerfully redirect attention to something which will generate more acceptable behavior.

During a recent visit to the Impression Five Museum we had a chance to use our own advice on managing behaviors during a community immersion. One of our guests was totally enthralled with the fact that there was a group of children having a birthday party at the museum. It was clear that our guy was not going to be easily diverted from “crashing” this party. Because we maintained our calm the situation did not escalate and the folks from the birthday party were gracious enough to share a shiny balloon and soda.