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Life Skills classes now open at Developmental Connections

On November 15, 2023, Developmental Connections of Taney County opened its Life Skills program. This program is designed to assist adults ages 18 and over who have a developmental disability with learning independent skills such as doing laundry, handling money, properly taking medications, social skills and communication, reading/writing and volunteering in the community.

Life Skills utilizes the SNAP Curriculum (Specific Natural Activity Program), written by John Myers. In addition to practical everyday living skills, the program covers topics related to self-advocacy, nutrition planning, computer skills, budgeting and educational/recreational activities. The program philosophy is centered around support and training to be as independent and successful as possible, using a person-centered approach recognizing each individual as a human being with infinite value and potential.

A typical day in Life Skills focuses on a lesson topic from the curriculum book, incorporating individual students’ goals for what they hope to learn. For example, the group might review simple recipes, plan a meal, and go shopping for the ingredients with a pre-determined budget. They then prepare the meal in the classroom kitchen, and discuss topics like portion control and saving leftovers. As an example of practicalities related to meal prep, one student’s goals included learning to operate a microwave oven for the desired results.

Life Skills students Chasiti, Kaitlyn and Laura prepare for a session with instructor Kristi using the SNAP curriculum.(Photo by Cynthia J. Thomas)

Some students live in Developmental Connections residential facilities; others at home with family. They discuss goals for their living situation, such as assisting parents with chores, being able to navigate an outing, or more independent living. They typically eat breakfast at home, and pack a lunch and snack to bring to the program. They also bring money at the beginning of each month and plan the budget for outings, including the weekly meal prep shopping trip.

Life Skills classes have gone to the post office, courthouse and city hall as part of a unit on local government and civic duties. In designing the curriculum, John Myers felt that individuals learn best through natural daily activities. The groups have also gone to the library to check out resources, called to research restaurant prices and check them against their budget, and called about prices of local entertainment. This provides training in communication skills, as well.

Life Skills students volunteer weekly at Riley’s Treasures, learning about community involvement and seeing how their work benefits others. They may also read books together and write summaries of them, as well as doing basic math needed for budgeting.

Current students had a variety of answers when asked their favorite activities. Chasiti likes outings and shopping; Laura enjoys playing games like Uno and Bingo together; Kaitlyn summed it up nicely by replying, “Everything!”

In addition to Life Skills, the larger picture at Developmental Connections provides day services designed to help persons with developmental disabilities enjoy life, socialize, and maximize their potential. Residential programs are available in two facilities, each housing 14 to 16 residents; other participants live in the community with family or caregivers.

The bright, cheerful facilities include a workout and movement room; a cognitive room with games and musical instruments; a center for honing fine motor skills; and a day room that accommodates up to 50 adults, where a typical day begins with class assignments for that day. Learning and curriculum focus on different countries of the world, including a meal featuring recipes from that country or culture. The meal is served restaurant-style, another skill-building experience for functioning independently in the community.

Wall decor throughout the buildings features a theme for each area and student art. (Photo by Cynthia J. Thomas)

Staff members keep it fun with special holiday events or themed days, such as “crazy hat day,” and residents/students get to vote on the themes. Creativity is also encouraged, with residents/students helping select décor themes for different areas of the buildings and their art work on display.

Developmental Connections is located at 1533 E. St. Hwy. 76 in Branson. For more information, or to inquire about enrollment in the day services or Life Skills programs, visit or call 417335-4135. Assisting these special adults through their daily activities can also be a wonderful and rewarding career option. A highschool diploma is required, and training is provided; ask for Creative Day Services Director Lisa Rowland at ext. 210, or email, to learn more.

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