Life Skills and Autism 

By Amber Kessler 

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How to Teach Life Skills

Every person with autism is different, so the life skills that will be taught and the pace that they are taught will vary from person to person. For example, one young adult with autism may ultimately be able to live on his or her own with very little, if any, outside support, while another may require support and services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Starting to develop life skills to the best of a child's ability at a young age will make a difference as they get older. There are endless life skills to learn which will be taught and practiced at home, school and in the community.

Most people with autism benefit from clear, hands-on instruction in life skills that will help them to increase independence. Life Skills classes or independent living programs are common ways to learn these skills and are usually led by a teacher or therapist. Life skills training should occur in natural environments where the skills being taught relate directly to the type of environment the person is going to live and use them. This means learning cooking skills in a kitchen or learning laundry skills in a laundromat.

Teaching Life Skills at Home

You can try several strategies to teach life skills at home by following a general three-step approach:

  1. Assess the skills (i.e. figure out the person’s difficulties and strengths). Having a list of strengths and areas for improvement can help you clarify the goals you set and provide supportive feedback and encouragement along the way.

  2. Teach new skills in a supportive way. The use of visual aids like charts and checklists can be a great way to provide support when working on new skills.

  3. Practice these new skills. Remember to truly master a new skill you must practice in realistic settings. This may mean teaching money skills at home using real dollars and coins, but to practice you go out to a local store and make a purchase.

Image by Andre Styles
Image by Dari lli

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