When my kids were in high school, they would meet up with their friends for an ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery near Cypress Bay High School in Weston, FL. They used their own ATM cards which had money from either part time jobs or their allowance for weekly chores. Checking their receipts for accuracy or understanding the concept of sales tax was taken for granted by them as well as by me.

The students in this year’s BRIDGES class, funded by the HDS Foundation, work on these specific skills on a constant basis. Their accounts are funded by the foundation to make it possible for the students to go off campus to work on their socialization, communication, and life skills. On November 1, 2017, the students in this program boarded the bus for a field trip to Cold Stones for ice cream. Each student ordered his ice cream and paid for it with his individual debit card.

Prior to the trip, the teachers of the personal skills class provided lessons and discussion to maximize the success of the off-campus lesson. While at Cold Stones, the students only required minimal prompting to stay on task. The class as a whole did a reflection about the group’s success after the trip. Once back at Cypress Bay High School, the students also continued to work on tax computation, check the accuracy of their receipts, and furthered their understanding of the concept of sales tax.

Next time you take your child to go buy an ice cream, think about how some individuals actually need to learn many soft and hard skills to do just that. From the communication skills to the math skills, buying an ice cream can be a bit taxing for a student with a developmental disability or a social skills deficit.