Building Self-Care Skills for a Child With Autism

Wednesday February 24, 2021 at 2:00 PM


Building Self-Care Skills for a Child With Autism

One of the overarching goals of ABA therapy is to help individuals achieve greater independence in their lives. This very often entails teaching a variety of daily living skills – from toilet training to doing laundry to preparing meals – so that children and adolescents become increasingly able to manage their own care. In the February issue of Metro Parent, Shantinique Jones, Assistant Clinical Director at Gateway’s Owosso clinic, discusses the importance of self-care and shares effective methods for teaching these skills.

Parents of children with autism might not be sure where to begin when it comes to teaching self-care skills. Jones advises parents to consider a few important factors before selecting a skill to teach, including the relative importance of the skill in the child’s life, how that fits within the general expectations of the household, and whether or not the child has current prerequisite abilities that support success with the new skill.

For example, learning to wash dishes may be important down the road, but learning to use the bathroom independently is often much more relevant and impactful for a young child in terms of reducing dependence on caregivers. Whatever skill parents decide to start with, Jones highlights the importance of approaching the teaching process systematically. This often means taking the whole task, which may be quite complex, and breaking it down into a series of more manageable steps. Doing so can allow parents to more accurately assess how well the task fits with their child’s current skill level, by clarifying which steps the child will need more help with and which they may be able to do on their own.

Following these steps in a consistent manner and offering frequent opportunities for practice are key to the child’s eventual success, which is why Jones encourages ongoing communication between parents and therapists. This way, a child can be supported toward their goals across all different settings. Teaching self-care skills can be a challenge, but with patience and the right approach, therapists and families working together can make a huge difference in helping children lead more independent lives.

We hope you enjoyed this post. For more information on topics related to ABA and autism, stay tuned for future blog posts and follow us on social media. Have a great week!

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