In the midst of the hustle and bustle of daily life, it is certainly easier to just take care of every detail of the lives of our friends with autism. In reality, all children and teens, whether they have autism or not, benefit from having the responsibility of daily chores.
BUILD ON STRENGTHS. Some of my friends with autism really thrive on daily routines and rituals. Unlike most of us, they actually enjoy mundane, routine tasks. One of my friends rather obsessively picks up lint or other small objects off the floor. Others file away books or put music instruments in their rightful places when waiting for their music therapy session. One young lady is thrilled when I give her permission to put away the clean dishes in my kitchen, and another loves swiffing my wood floors. I’ve encouraged their families, teachers, and job coaches to find daily chores that allow these individuals to lend a helping hand.
START EARLY. Nearly every person I know with autism clings to interests and habits from their early childhood. It is important that we teach all children to help themselves as much as possible and to pitch in around the house, but autism adds urgency. Even toddlers can pitch in with daily chores around the house to some extent. Approach chores with a positive attitude, and include kids in the process.
ENCOURAGE SELF-SUFFICIENCY. Busy schedules and looming deadlines can keep us from taking the time necessary to teach our youngster with autism to be self-sufficient. It is certainly quicker and easier to simply pick out clothes, tie shoes, gather up schoolbooks, or set the table for supper. If your life is like a pressure-cooker, relax and take just five minutes a day to focus on teaching your child just one task a week or so. Be patient, allow them time, and do not expect perfection. It is the effort that counts.
TIP FOR THE DAY. Granted, it is certainly easier for us to do things ourselves. But we can make a real difference in the long run if we make a pledge to take time each day to allow our child to participate in daily chores.
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
Nov 18, 2009