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

Where To Start

Teaching your son or daughter independent living skills including, household chores, personal care, etc. can be easier said than done. This is especially challenging if your son or daughter is used to having things done for them. You may feel rushed, your son or daughter may be fighting you every step of the way, you may be exhausted, but teaching life skills early on is an important part of raising a person with autism.

A good starting point is to break up your son or daughter’s daily routines in a typical day. For example, create checklists for different parts of the day. You can help get your son or daughter get used to the daily routine by checking off items on the list as the day goes on.

Sample Morning Checklist:

 □ Wake Up

 □ Put workout clothes on

 □ Eat breakfast in the kitchen

 □ Clean up breakfast

□ Morning workout/exercise

 □ Put workout clothes in the hamper

 □ Take shower

 □ Hang towel

 □ Put on deodorant

 □ Brush teeth

 □ Make bed

 □ Get school bag ready

 □ Catch the bus – off to school!

If your son or daughter requires more supports, you can break down each specific task into its own checklist. This is called a task analysis. The task analysis ensures each task is completed correctly and efficiently.

Task Analysis for Brushing Teeth:

 1. Get your toothbrush case.

 2. Unzip the case.

 3. Take out toothpaste.

 4. Unscrew toothpaste cap.

 5. Lay cap on countertop.

 6. Turn on cold water.

 7. Take out your toothbrush.

 8. Wet bristles of toothbrush.

 9. Put toothpaste on toothbrush.

 10.Lay toothpaste tube on countertop.

 11.Bring toothbrush with paste up to mouth.

 12.Begin brushing teeth.

  • Left back:  top – outside then inside
  • Left back:  bottom – outside then inside
  • Then front:  top – outside then inside
  • Then front:  bottom – outside then inside
  • Then right back:  top – outside then inside
  • Then right back:  bottom – outside then inside

 13.Spit toothpaste into sink

 14.Rinse toothbrush under water stream.

 15.Shake water out of brush.

 16.Put toothbrush in toothbrush case

 17.Get drinking cup from case.

 18.Fill cup with cold water.

 19.Rinse mouth with water.

 20.Spit water into sink.

 21.Rinse cup with water.

 22.Wipe cup dry.

 23.Put cup tack into toothbrush case.

 24.Put toothpaste cap on tube.

 25.Put toothpaste into toothbrush case

From Functional Curriculum for Elementary, Middle, and Secondary Age Students with Special Needs, 2nd Editionedited by Paul Wehman and John Kregel.

Learning self-help skills can be challenging for some people with autism, but they are essential for independence and transitioning to adulthood.

Some other resources that may be helpful include:

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

Self-Help Skills for People with Autism: A Systematic Teaching Approach (Topics in Autism) by Stephen R. Anderson, Amy L. Jablonski, Vicki Madaus Knapp, Marcus L Thomeer