I’ll do it! Building Success Habits in Children with Autism
Kids with autism can contribute. They need to contribute. It’s up to us, the adults in their lives to take the lead, set the standard, teach the skills and provide the supports needed to be successful.
Let’s be honest – it takes effort, time and patience on our part. It’s often easier to do a task ourselves. But, we rob a kid of so much when we do!
Our kids with autism can feel helpless – somehow broken because they need a lot of care and help. We owe it to them to offer balance – opportunities to be ‘givers’ because they are all capable of contributing.
There is a whole lot of value in the expectation of completed chores:
- Teaches how to persist and finish something that isn’t that fun
- Teaches how to follow a schedule and checklist
- Teaches new skills and competencies
- Builds a sense of empowerment, independence and self confidence – Self-reliance makes people the “master of their destiny’ because they don’t always have to wait around for others to do for them
- Teaches self care and task completion
- Teaches that every person has a role to play (siblings and classmates)
- Teaches time management and responsibility (give and take)
The list could go on. I’m sure you get it – chores are a necessity for every single person, especially those who live with autism.
The tasks and chores must match the developmental level of the child (not necessarily their age).
The crucial part for us, is to build in the supports needed to carry out the task successfully.
- What supports might be needed?
- Break down each task into really small sub steps – more than usual
- Post pictures or written words (or both) showing the steps
- Model each step and have the individual do the step with your calm and quiet guidance (be positive and reassuring) – repeat each step several times and then together as a chain of steps
- You can also use video to teach chores – Model me Kids was a favourite of mine, but, you can create your own as well – just remember to keep each step super tiny and focus in on only that step as other background sights and sounds can be distracting
- Use pictures or written words to label drawers/cupboards and places where things belong
- Choose to be enthusiastic and positive! Nagging, criticism and perfectionism will only serve to frustrate the child and undermine anything good that could come from the task.
The following list should kickstart your thinking about what your child or student can do. But, first a word of caution:
Ask yourself what you need to provide in order to have the task completed with relative ease. When it comes to autism, we cannot just give a verbal instruction and expect that the job will be done. To do so is to set a person up for failure.
- Put toys away into organized spaces (with visual labels)
- Feed pets, clean poop and cages/kitty litter
- Prepare snack
- Set the table/clear the table after dinner
- Pack lunch using a food groups visual
- Dust furniture
- Scramble eggs, make toast, make a salad
- Clean mirrors and counters
- Take garbage/recycling to the curb
- Organize and sort materials in the classroom or gym
- Clean art supplies
- Take inventory of materials and resources
- Set up snack or hand out materials
- Pump gas
- Make an appointment
- Make a purchase
- Use public transportation (gradually work up to do so alone)
- Mow the lawn
- Paint a surface (wall, fence, decketc…)
- Shop for groceries with a list
- Simple sewing (hems, buttons)
- Wash windows
- Sort and fold laundry
- Load/unload dishwasher
If we want our children and students to grow up to be as self sufficient, responsible and self-confident we have to start expecting them to contribute to the family, classroom and community when they are young. Even those with autism. Especially those with autism.
I want to hear from you – what chores and tasks has your child or student learned to do? What impact did that expectation have?
As always, please share this post with anyone you know who is struggling with a child with autism.
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