Written by Estelle Farias M.S., ED
Some of the ultimate goals for our children include them growing up to be happy, healthy, and independent adults. These same goals should also apply to children with Autism and related disabilities. Activities of Daily Living, or ADL’s as they are also known, are skills used in daily life. It is very easy to fall into the habit of over helping your child even into adulthood. It is important that your child learns how to be as independent as possible as early on as possible. These skills and concepts are the basics of a healthy and happy life. Having your child learn ADL’s early on will improve their level of independence as they get older and assist them in being productive members of society. The skills they need include but are not limited to:
- Self-care skills (bathing, brushing teeth, dressing, etc.)
-Daily household cleaning skills/chores
-Phone skills (basic but proper communication on a phone)
-Budgeting (what is necessary to buy verse unnecessary)
- Cooking (basic to more advanced meal preparation)
One the most over-looked aspects of education for a person with mental disabilities is the latency in training of these ever important skills. Teaching these skills does not have to be a chore when started at an earlier age. The best approach to teaching and reinforcing these skills at home is through incidental teaching. For instance, when it is time to prepare lunch or dinner, have your child help make the meal. Teach them how to use the express buttons on a microwave or have them put their own deli meat on their sandwiches. Supervise and do hand-over-hand prompting, when needed, and keep a visual checklist in the kitchen for easy accessibility. When you are out in the community and shopping, have you child pay the cashier. Help them count out the money owed and accept any change back for you from the cashier. It is important to take advantage of every incidental learning opportunity in your child’s natural environment. There are many opportunities to teach your child the skills they need to know early on. The more time that lapses in teaching adult daily living skills, the more challenging it can be in the future.