Teaching life skills in your curriculum to your children is a great idea regardless of disability. All children need to know that how to take care of themselves and their households. Sometimes with our children with autism we are looking at semi independent living such as in an apartment with supports or in a group home with others. The more they can do for themselves the better quality of life they will have in the end. I don ‘t know about you but that’s kinda a big deal to me.
If you have a child with moderate to severe autism , this could be your only curriculum for a year or two. The idea behind it is that it will alleviate some of the stress off of you. This will free up some time to get back to the other academics later. Plus imagine the pride your child will have in himself knowing he can do it. This will help emotionally as well as developmentally. As usual you have to know your child’s developmental age first. This is no different than anything else you teach them. Always take them where they are at first.
Logan is only about a year to 18 months behind his peers at this point in his life. It’s such a subtle difference that in the next 5 years you won’t be able to see a difference. For him, we are preparing for complete independent living. Thus he and Madison get the same curriculum albeit at different age levels. My goal is that they leave my house being able to completely take care of themselves, their families, their homes and their possessions.
When Logan was much younger this meant we taught him how to get dressed in clean clothes, brush his teeth, brush his hair and so forth. I would never move on to household responsibilities until he had personal care down pat. How to shower independently is a giant relief when your child is non verbal. You may need to make a visual schedule. I would start with helping him do it all gradually withdrawing my help. For the shower I would stop washing him first. I would soap up the washcloth then hand it to him. Eventually I would just hand him the washcloth and soap culminating with him washing himself altogether. I would then move to washing his hair to turning on the shower to remembering his towel and clothes. I would keep that up until he was completely showering solo.
Now that he is much more advanced it means the same for him as it does for Madison. Life skills involves learning how to cook a meal , cleaning house as well as outdoor chores. They both need to know how to maintain their cars, take care of their animals and make appointments. What better time to learn all that than in the home with loving parents to gently instruct and guide them?
In my opinion this is as important if not more so than academics. You can get a job without going to college. You can’t support a family without knowing how to budget or balance your checkbook. This also alleviates the likelihood of them getting taken advantage of by others if they are well versed in that subject. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken my car to the mechanic in my life for something simple to be told it’s far worse as well as lots of money. Some basic automotive lessons will eradicate that problem. Simple car or home problems can be fixed themselves thus saving them money. These lessons will serve them well throughout their adult years. It behooves you to add them to your curriculum.
For a great list of life skills to teach visit Mother Wonders Why. She has a printable list that you can adapt for your family.
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