There is often a connection between mental health challenges and how people care for themselves. As a result, the O-School places significant emphasis on developing proper hygiene. Proper hygiene facilitates being part of a social group and demonstrates respect for one’s self and others. Through the milieu, the O-School incorporates hygiene into the students’ daily routines as a basic expectation to help students establish a practice of physical care.
Executive functioning skills (EFS), such as planning, organizing and scheduling, are essential for living an independent and productive life. These skills are developed over time through life experiences, but for many O-School students, this development may require more explicit teaching and training. EFS development is embedded in the O-School program in a variety of ways, including:
- The unique design of the building supports spatial planning and orientation
- Daily engagement by the students in planning activities and outings
- The use of visual planners, color coding systems, and postings throughout the school and dormitories
Prescriptive assignment books, graphic organizers and supportive technologies provide learning supports that reinforce executive functioning skills
The daily schedule at the O-School is consistent and predictable without being overly regimented or inflexible. While there is always a staff member around to help remind or prompt a student about the schedule, it is designed so that there are many opportunities throughout the day for each student to be responsible for being on time and completing tasks or activities.
All O-School students are involved in group learning and socializing experiences throughout each day. A key aspect of getting along well with others, both authority figures and peers, is establishing healthy and adaptive interpersonal boundaries. These boundaries may include personal physical space, how to disclose and share personal information, or what to expect from others. Often O-School students arrive at the School having experiences at either extreme—either overly involved or overly isolated. We strive to help students establish a sense of balance and moderation in how they interact with others.
Life Skills Development
Upon enrolling in the Residential Program, many of the demands of daily living are intentionally decreased so that the students can regain, or develop for the first time, a strong emotional footing. As the impact of the mental health challenges lessen, there is a corresponding increase placed upon the students to resume responsibility for these tasks. Life skills are acquired with support and guidance provided by members of the student’s treatment team. The life skills learned and practiced include, but are not limited to:
- Personal laundry
- Dorm chores
- Money management
- Electronics use management
- Sleep hygiene
- Time management