As the parent of a young child with an Intellectual Disability(ID) you will be learning over time your child’s strengths and capabilities and particular behaviours that might put them at risk in the community. Once again the severity of the ID will affect how you manage community access and your child’s growing need for independence within it. Even if your child has a severe ID they will still develop an interest in things in the community to occupy their leisure time.
Being out in the community allows your child to develop play skills with other children when you are at a park, at the beach or attending a sporting event. It also allows your child to learn the social, communication and behavioural aspects of being in the community from the modelling of other children.
All children need to learn that their parents have responsibilities outside the house such as shopping, attending social functions and community events. Your child needs to learn early what behaviours are expected of them in each of these environments.
Children also need to learn early how to be safe in the community. Teaching your child basic safety rules and practicing alongside them will help. Many children do get a sensory overload from community environments so you need to be aware of this as they may not be able to communicate it to you, but their behaviour will. If your child has an Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) then the community environment will certainly have an impact upon them. If your child has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) you are going to need to pay close attention, so they learn safety rules. We know children are not always focused in the listening, learning and attention to task areas so we need to be sure we have their full attention when explaining issues of safety.
The community is a wonderful environment for your child to learn many communication, social and behavioural skills, so enjoy this learning alongside your child. The skills learnt now will help children as they explore further afield as they grow and develop.