Training for LIFE

Tips, Tricks and Links for Post Secondary Transition

A Day in the LIFE Skills Lab

The LIFE Skills Lab is a simulated work experience destination for transition age youth in Champaign County. Designed and coordinated from an occupational therapy view point, the activities of the day are directed by the classes' intervention specialist with OT support. During their time in the lab, students obtain career exploration, daily living and soft work skills using independent and group structured tasks.

Prior to their day in the lab, the intervention specialists are provided with a spreadsheet of available tasks and activities for the day that they can choose from. They can use the day any way that they would like using these tasks/activities or doing something that they design. We will talk more about planning and some of the behind the scene work in a future newsletter.

A "typical" day in the lab is below:


The students are transported to the lab by their home districts. As they arrive they place their personal items into lockers, marking their name on the locker markers. They continue down the hall to the kitchen area where breakfast is provided for them. The staff picks up breakfast and lunches from their home school the afternoon before and bring them to the lab for the students. The students do not need to wait for everyone to be finished with breakfast before moving on and starting their day.

Sign In:

As students enter the lab they must sign in and get their paperwork for the day. Paperwork consists of an agenda (either paper, picture or electronic depending on student needs). The tasks listed have been selected for each student by their intervention specialist. Students also pick up a task sheet that will document the first task that they do for the day.

Morning Individual Work:

Students spend the morning working on individual structured work tasks that are listed on their agenda. Unless specified otherwise, students can do the tasks in any order. This offers some freedom of choice as well as allows for students to move on and keep working if the next task on their list is being used by someone else.

Each task on their agenda is followed by the location of the task within the room. All the cabinets, drawers and boxes are numbered...C# for cabinet, D# for drawers, S# for sink drawers. This allows students with minimal reading skills to find the tasks the need on their own. All of the materials needed for that task are located either in the box or displayed at the location.

Once the student retrieves the task, they must fill out a task sheet. One task sheet for each task they compete. This is one of the ways we collect data on the tasks the student completes. They fill out the information up to End Time. Then they start the task. When they are finished they place the finished materials (they do NOT take them apart) into the box or area they got them from and enter the end time and rate how they felt about the task.

The task sheet is placed in a box at the sign in table and they pick up a new task sheet and repeat the process.

The staff then uses the task sheets to know what tasks need to be graded and reset. The data is entered on the bottom of the task sheets. These are collected and scanned at the end of the day and shared in a google drive with the intervention specialist for data collection and planning.


Before the class can sit down around the big table for lunch, chores have to be done. These are typically assigned ahead of time by the intervention specialist and posted for the students to refer to independently. We use real silverware, placemats and cloth napkins for lunch to help the students learn how to set the table and how to use these items. Occasionally if the students have done a silk flower task or a napkin folding activity in the morning, we will use these items on the table for the meal. The students either bring their own lunch or the staff brings a bagged lunch for them from their school's cafeteria. Frequently one of the morning activities will be preparing food to share with the group.

After lunch brings another set of chore responsibilities for the students. These usually get done pretty quickly and accurately because they can't go to movement time until they are done.

Movement time:

One thing that is required of the interventions specialists is that they incorporate approx. 20 minutes of movement activities at some point during the day, usually after lunch. This gets the students out of the lab areas for a little will and encourages physical activity of some sort.

Movement activities have included: walks around the building (outside or inside), bowling, yoga, basketball or just free time on the building's playground.

This also allows for staff to set up the lab for any afternoon activities if that is needed.


Afternoons usually consist of some type of group activity. Activities done in the past have included: assembly lines to make items for sale, building a camping tent, constructing a PVC playhouse, restaurant simulations and more.

Upcoming Presentations, Professional Development, Webinars Etc.

Structured Work Tasks As a Method to Link Personal Transition Goals and Academic Standards

Wednesday, Nov. 20th, 2:45-4pm

400 North High Street

Columbus, OH


November 20-22 Columbus, OH|The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference

Presenter/s: Patricia Kauffman, OT/L , Marissa Imondi, OTD, OTR/L, Terri Mac Donald & Alycia Smith

LIFE Program: A 4-Part Approach to Post-Secondary Transition Services - Poster Session

Thursday, Nov. 21st, 11:30am-12:30pm

400 North High Street

Columbus, OH


November 20-22 Columbus, OH|The Nation's Premier Autism and Disabilities Conference

Presenter/s: Patricia Kauffman, OT/L , Marissa Imondi, OTD, OTR/L, Terri Mac Donald & Alycia Smith

Transition Activities: Structured Work Tasks for Transition Age Students, Theory & Hands On

Thursday, Dec. 5th, 8:30am-3:30pm

Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center, Urbana, OH, USA

Urbana, OH

Theory with a Make It, Take It Component!

Workshop Overview

Promoting independence is key for our students as they prepare for life after graduation. In this series, we will discuss the theory behind using structured work tasks for skill development and increasing independence. Each session will expand on the the basic theory related to the theme and then participates will be given lots of practical ideas to use with their students and the understanding of how to expand on these ideas according to student's needs. By the end of the day, participants will make an activity that they can use with their students, all materials included.

Session 1:The Basics - Assembly & Packaging Activities Thursday, December 5, 2019 (8:30 am - 3:30 pm)

Session 2: Career Exploration Monday, January 13, 2020 (8:30 am - 3:30 pm)

Session 3: Structuring Household Activities Monday, February 10, 2020 (8:30 am - 3:30 pm)

Session 4: Cooking Monday, March 9, 2020 (8:30 am - 3:30 pm)

Session 5: Group Activities Monday, April 20, 2020 (8:30 am - 3:30 pm)

$285.00 per person for employees of districts/agencies in Madison, Champaign, Clark, Hardin, Logan and Shelby counties

$315.00 for employees of districts/agencies in counties other than those listed above.

Presenter: Patricia Kauffman, OT/L

Patricia is an occupational therapist and the LIFE Skills Lab Coordinator for the Madison Champaign Co. ESC. As an OT for 27 years, Kauffman has spent most of her career in the school setting but also owned a private practice in the Columbus area for 7 years. She developed the LIFE Skills Lab at MCESC in 2016 and has been able to significantly expand the program as a recipient an Innovative Strategies for Developing the College and Career Readiness of Students with Disabilities grant from ODE for the SY 2018-19. She has attended several TEACCH trainings including the 5-day intensive: Adolescents and Adults Transitioning to Vocational, Residential and Community Settings. She has recently presented at SST6 Best Practice Showcase, Ohio Occupational Therapy Association’s (OOTA) annual conference and OCALICON. She will be presenting at the American Occupational Therapy Association’s (AOTA) annual national conference in March.

Use this link to register:

Training for LIFE Team at the Madison-Champaign Educational Service Center

Team Members include

Patricia Kauffman, OT/L, LIFE Skills Lab & Lending Library Coordinator

Terri Mac Donald, Low Incidence Supervisor

Cheri Leffel, LIFE Classroom Intervention Specialist

Alycia Smith, Intervention Specialist at West Liberty-Salem Schools

Carrie Boggs, Intervention Specialist at Triad High School

Emily Davis, Intervention Specialist at Mechanicsburg Middle School