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Teaching Life Skills and Building Self-Esteem

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Editor’s Note – The following article was written by Kathleen Dolbee, mother, educator, and Autism Society of North Carolina Parent Advocate.

Teaching your son or daughter to do household chores is an important part of teaching them independent living skills. Be careful not to presume that your child already knows how to do a job, simply because he has seen you do it. Remember, our kids are visual learners and sometimes have difficulty sequencing the steps of a particular job.

Patiently teach your child, step by step. Using visual supports doesn’t always mean writing a schedule.

For instance, if you want your child to pick up his toys (Lego’s, for instance), try breaking the job into smaller pieces. Try using a Hula Hoop or even a broomstick to segment the job into more easily managed task. Give him a clean dustpan and teach him to scoop and dump into a bucket “just like a construction machine”. You can even do the sound effects if that helps get the job done. Taking turns tossing stuffed animals into a bin could teach turn-taking and organization at the same time.

Vacuuming becomes easier when the carpet is sprinkled with something that will help your child see where to vacuum and to know when he is finished (I used the round circles left by a hole punch).

Start off with simple tasks like watering the plants, putting books or videos on a shelf or wiping the table. Make it a game! Masking tape in a child’s hand is a great way to pick up little messes without dragging the vacuum out. A game that is my personal favorite in the classroom I named, “The Dirtiest Wet Wipe Wins”. Each child is given a clean wet wipe and the fun begins!

Just remember:

  1.  Teach the skill.
  2.  Make it visual.
  3.  Share the load.
  4.  Make it fun.

Many thanks to Kathleen for sharing this article. Beginning this month the Autism Society of North Carolina Blog will begin adding content on a more regular basis. The new posting schedule includes:

  • 1st full week of month – Parent/Family Advocacy
  • 2nd week of month – Training, Treatment, & Best Practice
  • 3rd week – Events, activities, and observations
  • 4th week – Legislative Advocacy and Policy Issues


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