Self-care skills are the basic tasks that keep our bodies clean and healthy. Skills like brushing teeth, washing hands, and bathing are important for children to learn as they affect their everyday lives. Children on the autism spectrum often experience delays in learning these skills and may need a different way of teaching to build them. Using some ABA techniques, these skills can be taught appropriately and help your child succeed. Here are some tips for teaching your child self-care skills.
Self-Care and ASD
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects each child differently. Some children on the spectrum will be able to lead an independent life with minimal outside support, while others will need constant care. But, any child with autism can learn basic self-care skills. In fact, the more you work with your child on these skills, the easier it will be for them to learn new skills as they develop. Training self-care skills can help with daily hygiene, eating habits, exercise, and coping with stress. To give your child a head start, begin teaching some basic self-care skills as early as possible, including:
- Using the bathroom
- Washing hands
- Brushing teeth
- Bathing or showering
- Cleaning up after themselves
- Helping with household chores
Simplify Self-Care Tasks
For some children, just saying “brush your teeth” may not be enough information to get them actually to accomplish that task. Instead, consider breaking down each task into a series of steps leading to the main task. Provide clear instructions for each step in the task. For example, saying, “Turn on the sink, grab your toothbrush, put toothpaste on the toothbrush, and put the toothbrush in your mouth,” is more helpful because it explicitly explains each step of brushing your teeth.
Use Visual Aids
You can create visuals of each step of a care task and hang them in the location where the skill will occur. For example, with teeth brushing, some pictures can include turning on the sink, applying toothpaste to the toothbrush, or brushing each area of the mouth. Also, consider modeling the skill for your child before they try it to help them learn by imitating your actions.
Improve Communication Skills
Use the communication tools that work best for your child, such as posters, drawings, or photos for visual aids, along with speech and gestures. If your child likes to draw, allow them to design their own signs or pictures. Making this a fun activity will make it easier for them to learn and communicate with you about their emotions.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Pinterest.