So, should children with limited skills be required to help with chores around the house? It is probably quicker and easier for adults to take care of daily tasks without interference or interruption of a youngster who needs assistance. Autism adds another layer since many individuals with autism require supervision and prompting in order to focus on and complete even a simple job around the house. At the same time, we can do a disservice to children if we do not help them learn self-help skills and self-responsibilities.
Some individuals diagnosed with autism have behavioral challenges or motor or cognitive issues that restrict their ability to complete household chores independently. But, with a bit of planning, even people with very significant limitations can be productive and helpful rather than merely recipients of care.
Youngsters with autism can actually thrive when given the responsibility of one or more chores that become part of the daily routine. The trick is to find a truly helpful chore that fits the abilities of your friend with autism. Here are some ideas for helping around the house.
1. Keep a box or bag in a certain spot in the house that can be carried to the mailbox at a certain time each to retrieve the mail.
2. Your friend can take laundry out of dryer, push the button to turn on dishwasher, take groceries out of sacks, or turn on the alarm clock every night.
3. Let your friend select the menu for meals or snacks, choose clothes for the next day, or choose a weekend family activity.
4. Teach your friend to push around dust mop or vacuum, or to lock the front door and turn out porch light every evening before bed.
Just keep your eyes peeled for small but important tasks that help individuals with autism feel as if they have an active role in their family life. Remember that participation – NOT perfection – is the goal. We welcome your input about daily chores. Share challenges and ideas based on your experiences or intuition. Just click on the comments button or send an e-mail to talk@FAQautism.com.
NOTE TO READERS AND LISTENERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. Feel free to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. Send email to talk@FAQautism.com And don’t forget to check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. http://FAQautism.com