Hands-on lessons impart skills to developmentally disabled

Auburn resource opened in October
By: Gloria Young,
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Imagine Transitional Living Services
3215 Fortune Court, Auburn
Contact: (530) 889-1732 or


Kim Clapshaw’s Auburn office is set up like a home. There’s even a full kitchen. It provides a backdrop for teaching functional living skills to the mentally disabled.
“It’s anything and everything they need to learn how to live independently or enhance or maintain their living skills,” she said. “Some will end up living in their own apartment with or without support. Others will never live independently.”
Clapshaw opened Imagine Transitional Living Services in October. She has been working with the developmentally disabled for more than two decades.
Her entry into the field came when Clapshaw and her husband moved to Rocklin from the Bay Area. It was then she decided to leave behind a career in the semiconductor industry. Her first job working with the developmentally disabled was as a trainer with Pride Industries in Roseville.  After a year, she was promoted to job coach.
“It’s called support employment,” she explained. “When Pride would find (clients) a job, I’d go with them on their first day and go through orientation and training with them.”
During her time at Pride Industries, Clapshaw returned to college part time, earning a bachelor’s degree and later a master’s degree.
She left Pride to become a social worker at the Alta California Regional Center, a state-funded agency overseen by the Department of Developmental Services. Then when the opportunity arose to open her own business, she made the move.
The program at Imagine, which Clapshaw designed, runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and is designed for adults 18 to 60 years old.
“The schedule varies,” she said. “We have a monthly calendar and develop our calendar the week before the next month. Today we are cleaning and budgeting. This afternoon we’ll continue budgeting and bill paying. I have mock accounts set up for (the clients). They’ll be paying their rent today so they can understand how budgeting works. It is a hands-on, community-based program. I’m really big on hands-on learning.”
Clapshaw guides students through 16 functional living skills modules. In addition to cleaning and money management, there’s health management, recreation and leisure, community resource awareness, household safety, household maintenance, community safety and social skills, healthy relationships, employment training and time management.
One of the most popular modules is cooking. And while meal preparation is a favorite with students, the training goes beyond that to include kitchen orientation, sanitation, nutrition and safety.
Clapshaw also takes students out into the community, giving them experience in practical tasks such as riding a bus.
“It’s mobility training,” she said. “(It includes) how to prepare for getting on the bus — having the ticket ready and swiping it on the bus.”
She works with students on social interaction and how to distinguish friendly people from those who would prey on them.
“A lot of this population has been bullied,” she said. “They talk about how that made them feel. I’m just trying to help them have a better quality of life and be part of the community just like anyone else who is part of the community.”
On other field trips, students learn how to do comparison shopping and get the most for their dollar.
“Most of the individuals receive a subsidy (from the government) and live on a very limited income,” she said.
One of Clapshaw’s clients attends from the Weddle Family Care Home in Auburn.
“I think she is doing a good job so far with one man from our facility who wants to live independently,” care home owner Vera B. Weddle said in an email. “He is making progress. Hopefully, by summer, he may be in his own apartment and later find a job. Our community has a need for this type of program and I believe Imagine fills that need.”
Another participant in the program is a former student of Auburn resident Jennifer Lile, who taught in Placer School for Adults program for the developmentally disabled.
“I’ve talked to Kim quite a bit I think it is a very needed program,” Lile said. “There are a lot of functional living skills that adults with developmental disabilities need to heave reinforced all the time. It’s kind of like learning a foreign language — if you don’t use it and keep it sharp, you forget what you’ve learned and that’s very much the case with this population. I think (Clapshaw) is real practical in her approach to living skills. …”
Clapshaw’s business runs on state funding and her clients are referred to her from the Alta center.
Reach Gloria Young at