This article covers independent living skills for children on the Autism Spectrum. By aiding a child on the Autism Spectrum to learn and develop the fundamentals of Life skills they will have to be placed in many uncomfortable situations and be shown that they can survive and will be just fine.
Independent living skills are a collection of various tools that we equip within our children so when they are adults we can send them out into the world armed with the best resources that will allow them to succeed as an adult.
I understand that you may be looking your little 2 year old or 10year old thinking “I can’t see them succeeding or learning anything of use” – that way of thinking if destructive because we have already set them up for failure with a mindset that is not correct.
Independent living skills are taught through consistency and directness and patience. Below is a list – not exhaustive of – life skills that children should be being taught from a very young age:
• Tidying the house – teaches respect for items and gives a sense of control over an environment.
• Organisation skills – simple as teaching a child to write their daily tasks down.
• Emotional regulation – teaches a child to identify their emotions and self regulate their reactions in order to maintain their self dignity intact.
• Shopping skills – obvious reasons, eventually your child will need to shop for themselves, so empowering them with this skill is easy and simple to teach.
• Money skills – you don’t want your child being ripped off by another due to not knowing money amounts, counting, etc. This too is easy; every time you go out have your child go into a shop and purchase one item for you. Narrate the change they can expect to get back and go over the receipt of the item so the child understands how to make sense of this part of their Life Skills.
• Washing clothes – teach the process of washing clothes from the beginning to the end and do it with your child, that way they will not get too overwhelmed with all the steps.
• Social skills and social stories are another big area (that I will cover in a future article).
Obviously there are many, many more life skills that children need, and they are simple to teach if they are made fun and are taught in a consistent manner. They be as long as you want to make them (yet be careful to not make the process boring or miserable) or you can make them as simple and quick as possible, as quick as 2 minute lessons!.
At the beginning your child may ‘fight’ the process – especially if they are being asked to chores and labour that they may find not important, yet doing it together with them while making it very short, will keep them engaged long enough to learn a very important lesson for their future.
It is very important that you do not let your child get away with not doing what was required, if this is the case your child will learn a functional behaviour (a negative one) that they will use in other areas when they are asked to do something they do not want to do.
We all have to do things we don’t want to, yet we just have to do it, and so do our children need to learn this important element for their future.
Just don’t be the adult who quits because their (child’s) behaviour may get intense and uncomfortable. If the child is allowed to succeed at little parts of the learning you can gradually build up on that over time.
Until next time,