Posted in Autism, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Feeding, Personal Hygiene, Toileting

Blog #170~Teaching Independent Living Skills

Blog #170~Teaching Independent Living Skills

Brushing your teeth, bathing, dressing, and doing household chores, are all a part of what a parent teaches their child.  But what if you are a parent of a child with special needs?  How do you teach these independent living skills?

Nick vacumming_Tabor Hills (3)

My son Nick is 23 years old and has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism.  He has learned many self-help skills, and assists around the house with several chores.  These independent living skills give him a sense of accomplishment and pride.  It also takes the burden off me as his mom.

So how do you get started?  First, identify areas that you want to work on with your child.  Pick just one skill, that your child can do with assistance.  This skill should have value and interest to them.  Take for instance the task of washing your hands.  This was something my son liked to do because he enjoys running the faucets. 😉  The next step is to break down the task into simple steps.  Take these simple steps and determine what supports are needed to teach this skill.  For a child that has autism, it helps greatly to provide visual supports.  This can be written instructions, using picture sequences, or video modeling.

Picture sequence for washing hands….

handwashing routine

When using picture sequences, determine with your child’s teacher, if it’s more effective to use the style above, or actual photographs of the sequence.  Each child is different in how they can understand pictures. You can find many picture sequences on Google Images, or ask your child’s support teacher to make you some.  Another option is to use an iPad, and download apps that show these sequences.  There are tons apps available, here is just one of many:

iPad App called iDo Hygiene (free app)….

iDo hygiene

Once the visual supports are in place, you can guide your child step by step, using “hand over hand technique” to teach the motor skills.  As your child develops these skills, begin to fade back, by point prompting to each picture.  Be sure to use lots of praise and cheer them on their successes.

Here are a few examples of other self-help skills that you can work on with your child around the house:

*Hygiene skills like brushing teeth, showering, washing face and hands, brushing hair, toileting, shaving.

*Recycling and can crushing

*Shredding

*Help with laundry

Nick laundry

*Unload the dishwasher

*Set the table

*Make the bed

*Fold and put away laundry

*Water plants

Nick watering plants

*Cleaning windows and countertops

*Dusting

*Unload groceries and put them away

Nick toilet paper

*Cooking

*Vacuuming

Many of these household chores provide great sensory input.  Push and pull activities like carrying laundry baskets and vacuuming, are excellent examples.  Heavy work provides proprioceptive input to the muscles & joints.  This can be very calming, organizing, and regulating, decreasing stress and anxiety.

Not all of the skills above are Nick’s favorites to do.  As a parent,  you can determine which activities are more motivating for your child.  Focus on those first.  Nick really enjoys vacuuming.  Another strength Nick has is matching, and remembering where things go.  So for him, unloading the dishwasher and putting groceries away were both easier and motivating for him to do.

Teaching your child independent living skills, will strengthen their abilities to hold a job in the future.

Nick doing volunteer work at GiGi’s Playhouse…

nick-cleaning-gigis

It also fosters a sense of fulfillment and gratification for them, as well.  So, pick one task, roll up your sleeves and get to work. That’s what is in my noggin this week!

~Teresa 🙂

Follow Nick:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram #nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism, Uncategorized

Blog #140~Home Chores and Your Special Needs Child

Blog #140~Home Chores and Your Special Needs Child

I was doing a little spring cleaning the other day.  I ran across a nice checklist of housekeeping activities to foster independence and build confidence.  My son, Nick is 22 years old and has Down syndrome and autism.  He takes great pride in doing his chores around the house.

Nick watering plants

One of Nick’s strengths is remembering where things go.  He does a great job unloading the dishwasher and putting the dishes away.  Other jobs he has are recycling, emptying the garbage cans, laundry.  He also assists with cooking along with his all time favorite, vacuuming!

Nick cooking

Here is the checklist of housekeeping activities:

Household chores checklist

I definitely see a few more on this list to add into Nick’s routine (except for #24).  Giving your child opportunities to help around the house is so important.  These jobs are the prerequisite which will lead to more independent living when they become young adults.  These skills may take longer to master.  With that in mind, it is helpful to use prompts.  Model the behavior, use hand over hand technique and visual icons/video modeling to help learn the sequence.  Set a regular routine where the chores would normally be done during the day and evening.

Nick vacumming_Tabor Hills (3)

Nick is happy to help out and beams with pride when I say, “Good job big guy” (followed by an elbow bump)!  As adults, we all like to be complimented for doing a good job.  Our kids and adults with special needs are no exception.  Pick a household task and give it a try with your child; never set limits.  You’d be surprised at what they can accomplish, and help you out in the process.  That’s what is in my noggin this week.

~Teresa

Follow Nick:

Facebook @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

instagram-logo#nickdsautism

 

 

 

 

Posted in Autism, Down syndrome, Dual Diagnosis Down syndrome and autism

Blog #74~ Teaching to 21

Blog #73~ Teaching to 21
Last week, I was a guest lecturer at Northern Illinois University. The graduate level class topic was “Functional Communication and Social Skills” as it relates to autism. I presented a parent’s perspective.

NIU logo

One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is teaching personal independence. It’s never too early to start working on these skills. One concept brought to my attention by Nick’s support teacher from elementary school is called, “Teaching to 21.” What skills will an individual with special needs require to lead a successful life after school is finished? Here is a list of skills that should be addressed both in school and at home for students with special needs:

 Assessment of Functional Living Skills (AFLS)

Source: http://autismbeacon.com/topics/article/functional_skills_for_people_on_the_autism_spectrum

“Functional skills” are those skills that if learners cannot do for themselves, someone will have to do for them. Functional skills are immediately useful and important. They increase self-help and independence and are present in every setting and throughout every stage of life:

Basic skills:
Self-management
Basic Communication
Dressing
Toileting
Grooming
Bathing
Health, safety, first aid
Night time routines

Home Skills Module:
Meals at home
Dishes
Clothing
Laundry
Housekeeping
Chores
Household mechanics
Leisure
Kitchen
Cooking

Community Participation:
Basic mobility
Community knowledge
Shopping
Meals in public
Money handling
Phone
Time
Social awareness
Manners

School Skills:
School waiting and transitions
Classroom routines
Meals at school
Classroom people, places and objects
Classroom mechanics
Outside school
Functional academics
Classroom leisure and independence

The IEP team should address these skills in goal planning and daily schedules of the student. In addition, supports should be put in place that will assist the student in reaching these goals. Here are some of the supports that Nick has used in school. Since Nick has a dual diagnosis of Down syndrome and autism, these tangible provisions give him clarity and focus in doing his tasks.

*Visual supports such as task strips, social stories, picture schedules and video modeling:
task strip
*First-then visual or app to remind student what they are working for:
first then

first then app
*Timed Timer clock or app and Picture Scheduler app:

timed timer

picture schedule app
*Physical prompting-teacher may do hand over hand to teach a school and fade back to just pointing to direct student.

*Guiding student with visual cues (putting stickers on washcloths to teach folding sequence, sprinkle hole punch paper dots on floor to teach vacuuming, using counting templates, etc…)

Nick packaging door knobs_Habitat_4 (2)

For students with autism, if they can see it…. they can understand it. In Blog #5~Ready, Set, Action (located in April 2012 Archives) I wrote about how successful video modeling was in teaching Nick skills around the house. He responds to and is motivated by seeing the footage in a video format. It also landed him a community job at a local elder residence care facility.

Nick hard at work 🙂
Nick vacumming_Tabor Hills (3).

Nick takes great pride in his jobs both in the community, school and at home. We continue to work on the skills needed for him to be as independent in all areas of his life so he is ready to manage things when he is finished with school. It’s all about starting early and teaching to 21! That’s what is in my noggin this week. 🙂

~Teresa

Follow Nick on Social Media:

Facebook and Pinterest @Down Syndrome With A Slice Of Autism

Instagram @nickdsautism

Twitter @tjunnerstall