We usually think of self-help skills as being able to get dressed, take a bath, and eat meals without help. But the list of daily living skills necessary for being as independent as possible is actually very long. This list touches on just five categories of self-help skills.
1. Basic self-care. Beyond the basics of toileting, bathing, and eating are things like shaving, shopping for toiletries, going to bed and waking up independently, taking care of laundry, hair care, selecting appropriate clothing, brushing and flossing teeth, preparing meals, housekeeping, and other chores we tend to take for granted.
2. Practical academics. Knowing how to count to 1000 or how to spell difficult words are just slivers of the knowledge necessary for living as independently as possible as adults. Individuals with autism must sometimes be taught the practical application of all the facts and figures in their heads. For example, they can learn to translate their gift for numbers or words into making change, balancing a checkbook, reading a menu, or composing an e-mail message.
3. Self-starting. For a variety of reasons, some individuals with autism are not able to initiate actions. For example, if it is time for lunch, they depend on a reminder or cue to stand up, wash their hands, sit at the table, and begin eating.
4. Compliance. We usually lump following directions in the behavioral category, but it seems to also fit in the realm of daily living skills. It is almost impossible to function independently at school, on a job, or in the community without the ability to follow instructions.
5. Problem-solving. Some of our friends with autism are able to analyze a situation and come up with a solution when they encounter a problem, big or small. But others must be taught systematically to recognize a problem, to consider all options for dealing with the problem, to select the most appropriate solution, then to take action.
TIP FOR THE DAY: Again, this is just a partial listing. Take time to notice all the tasks you complete each day so you can patiently and systematically teach your friends with autism self-help skills necessary for living as independently as possible.
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 a confidential email at talk@FAQautism.com with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solution. 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