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Calls to Action

Teaching Important Life Skills

Start as Early as Possible!

"No matter what our child's level of ability, he will do best in the future if you help him develop practical skills now."
- More than a Mom, by Amy Baskin and Heather Fawcett

This month's Community Connections provides tips and ideas to help you get started teaching important life skills to your child with autism at home and in your daily life.

Where To Start

Teaching your child independent skills - home living, personal care, etc. - can be easier said then done, especially if they are accustomed to having things done for them. You may be rushed, your child may be fighting you every step of the way, you may be too exhausted, but teaching life skills early on is an important part of raising a child with autism.

A great start is to break up your child's daily routines in a typical day. For example, create checklists for different parts of the day, and help get your child accustomed to the daily routine by checking off items on the list as the day goes on.

Click here for a sample morning checklist.

If your child requires more supports, you can also break down each specific task into its own checklist, to make sure each task is completed correctly and efficiently. Click here for an example of a task analysis for one of many morning tasks - brushing teeth.

From Functional Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Age Students with Special Needs, 2nd Edition, edited by Paul Wehman and John Kregel. *3rd edition to be released soon.

Expert Interview: Dr. Daniel Steere

Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania

How early should a family begin to teach life skills?

As early as possible, starting with simple self-care skills, picking up toys, and so forth. As with any child, it is important to teach these skills longitudinally, that is, across their childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood.

Click here to read more from Dr. Steere about teaching life skills.

Curriculum Areas

There are many different areas where life skills are critical. While it is important to first focus on the most important skills like safety and hygiene, there are many other parts of daily living that require skills and experience. Click here for a list of curriculum areas and activities to help you foster independent living skills beyond the basics.

From Functional Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Age Students with Special Needs, 2nd Edition,
edited by Paul Wehman and John Kregel.
*3rd edition to be released soon.

Self Help Skills for People with Autism: A Systematic Teaching Approach
by Stephen Anderson

Learning self-help skills can be challenging for people with autism, but is essential for independence. Self-Help Skills for People with Autism thoroughly describes a systematic approach that parents and educators can use to teach basic self-care to children, ages 24 months to early teens, and even older individuals. A chapter is devoted to four skill areas (eating, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene) offering detailed insight and specific instruction strategies. 

Appendices contain forms to complete for task analyses, instructional plans, and data collection. With the information in Self-Help Skills, parents can immediately start teaching their child, or refer back to the book to fine-tune skills as their child develops.

Click here to purchase this book.

Other Resources

Taking Care of Myself: A Hygiene, Puberty, and Personal Curriculum for Young People
by Mary Wrobel

The Child with Autism at Home
by Kathy Labosh