Integrated Student Life Approach

Student life is much more than just fun activities; it is an incorporation of all aspects of a student’s life into integrated transdisciplinary plan to develop skills for independence. At Shrub Oak, we pride ourselves in the wide array of opportunities for active exploration and learning that transcend the walls of the classroom to every aspect of life. The approach the Student Life team has at Shrub Oak seamlessly blends the academic curriculum and clinical support into everyday life experience. To do that, we have four main focuses:

Developing skills for independent living

Independent living skills are integral for success in life outside of the classroom,  The components of these skills will be integrated into all aspects of the student experience, including developing skills for both the workplace and home. Developing personal hygiene techniques, time management, personal schedule management, and home cleanliness strategies are key components of living independently. Students will have an individually-developed curriculum focused on mastering various tasks related to independent living skills based on current skill level and goals.

Foster opportunities for social interaction and building interpersonal relationships

Social interaction and relationship development are  key life skills that all students with ASD  find challenging. The goal of the student life curriculum is to develop safe and gradual exposure to varying social settings and the intentional development of strong bonds between students, families and staff. The model will focus on developing community-based settings where students can explore interests and activities together to develop trust and respect within the community. Residential students will have an opportunity to explore different living arrangements including living with a roommate if they are developmentally ready for that experience.

Emphasize personal health and wellness

There is nothing more important for  positive growth and development than a comprehensive approach to health and wellness. At Shrub Oak, we focus on integrating positive life habits into everyday life not only for our students but our staff too! On campus, we have expansive spaces for our students to utilize, including our gym, workout room, multifunctional studio spaces, wooded trails, and wide open field spaces. Not everyone loves to go for a run or go for a walk in the woods, so for some, we incorporate that walk into a quest to find animals because the student is inspired by animals, thus integrating learning and wellness into their daily routine.

Creative development and exploration

Each student has unique interests, expertise, and passions. At Shrub Oak, we strive to create learning opportunities that align with each student’s interests and help them explore new opportunities to express themselves in new and unique ways. Using each student’s interests, we are able to create activities routed in the goals and skill development identified by the IEP. We will have opportunities for artistic expression in many forms, personal interest exploration, group and individual play experiences, and exploration of technology.

Even the student who insists they do not like anything, never want to go out of their room, and always answers “no”,  can find something  interesting. Recently, while speaking with a family on campus, we began exploring the student’s interests and were met with short, quick responses of “I don’t like anything.” After a bit of time, we discovered that the student was passionate about snakes. Living in an area where wildlife is quite prevalent is a great opportunity to incorporate that passion into a  search for snakes during a nature hike. Any interest can be turned into an opportunity to learn, grow, and be active while working on individual goals.


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