Life skills for children on the autism spectrum and special cases

ocial and life skills are among the most important things acquired by children on the autism spectrum, which greatly help the child to be somewhat independent in performing certain tasks and improving his performance in daily situations, and this is reflected in the surroundings of the child and his family, such as: going to the supermarket – arranging the house – cleaning clothes – go to the park

The acquisition and development of these skills helps the child on a personal and social level, through which the child becomes able to take care of himself according to his ability and the development of his condition, and he also becomes able to participate and interact with others. Unwanted behaviors are replaced and desired behaviors are taught through programs and plans appropriate to the child’s condition and abilities in a way that makes him able to apply what he gained in the sessions in his social reality.
In the early stages, the focus is on life skills and the daily routine starting from the home (making the bed, going to the bathroom, brushing the teeth, getting dressed, preparing meals, washing the dishes…) to other public places (writing, sitting at school, playing with children in the garden, going Shopping, visiting etiquette, bus etiquette, restaurant etiquette….).
These skills are small basic building blocks that are stacked on top of each other, and when applied, they constitute a basic and important support for refining a child’s personality in the coming stages of his life.

If work is done to build and develop these life skills in the early childhood stage, and the sooner the intervention is in the child’s life, the faster the goal will be achieved, which is the independence of the autistic child, building his personality and self-reliance, and reducing the burden on those around him.
The child will have a more comfortable and independent life into adolescence and beyond, as well as positive results at every stage. Also, among the advantages of acquiring these skills for children of the autism spectrum in their various conditions is the ability to socially participate with others as possible, and also to fill their daily schedule with some activities and interaction with the family.

There is reliance on many activities that are useful in teaching the child and providing him with the main skills, such as visual aids from visual tables, pictures and video clips that represent the skill. Audio recordings can also be used or models can be used and sitting in the appropriate place to acquire this skill and practice it.
It must be taken into account that children, according to their different conditions, vary in their training period and their mastery of the required skill. Therefore, persistence, work, and diligence must be made to acquire the skill and apply it in more than one place in order to preserve it, circulate it, and establish it in the child. Acquiring and generalizing these skills is a priority for the school and the home, as both of them contribute to refining the skill of the child. What he learns at home transfers to the external environment, and what he learns abroad transfers to the home.
Some of what helps to develop these skills and helps to acquire them is the chaining strategy

This means analyzing the task and presenting it in a simplified way to the child. An example follows to teach the child the skill
of shopping (the supermarket routine):

First: We must define the skill that we want to teach the child, which is (the supermarket routine).

Second: We must decompose this task into simple sequential steps

It is easy for the child to receive and apply, the steps can be put in a picture booklet, we take realistic pictures from the Internet, and small picture cards can be used sequentially or an explanatory video of the sequential events to help more.

1- When we enter the supermarket, we take a cart immediately upon entering (putting a cart picture).
2- The child is provided with the things that we want to bring from the supermarket (put pictures of the things to be brought – bananas, chicken, milk, chips…).
3- Go to the designated section to bring each item (the refrigerator from which we prepare chicken and milk, the shelf from which we prepare chips, a place designated to bring vegetables and fruits…).
4- When finished, we go to pay the bill with the list of items that were brought (a copy of the account location).
5- Standing and adhering to the queue to wait and pay the account (picture of a queue).
6- Taking out the money and paying the required (money copy).
7- Taking the things in the car to the place of the car (a picture of the parked car).
8- Putting things in the trunk of the car and closing it (photo of the trunk).
9- Returning the cart to its designated place after completion (a picture of the cart’s location).

Third: The way in which the steps of the analyzed task will be presented to the child must be determined

There are three effective ways to display it, one of which can be chosen:
1- View the overall task
, in which the mother or father presents all the steps to the child and applies them once. And reward him for commitment.

2- Sequence from behind,
and by that we mean helping the child in all the steps. We indoctrinate. We provide assistance in applying all the steps except for the last step, which the child does on his own. Gradually, we withdraw the assistance from the previous step. We provide assistance for the steps except for the last two steps, then the step before it in the same way, to reach the stage of the child applying the steps. From start to finish alone and the reward is taken by the end of the last step.

3- The sequence from the front
And with it, the child is left to do the first task on his own from the beginning. We reduce the indoctrination to take on the first task, and we give him help for the rest of the steps, then gradually we withdraw the help from the second step, and the child takes the first two steps and we help him with the rest of the steps, then gradually the child takes the first 3 steps to reach independence in the task and do not forget Targeting and focusing on the specific step in education and rewarding and encouraging the child.

Using one of these methods we make each step a performance booster for the next step. And it must be taken into account that the reinforcement in these tasks is often given immediately after the completion of the step, and we may use the star system after collecting stars based on the steps, he takes the reward or takes a reward based on the number of steps he takes. The above is only one example of one routine that can be used for
training many other skills.
We must help children on the autism spectrum to acquire important life and social skills, such as the aforementioned routine (the supermarket) and other routines that help them behave well in situations and rely on themselves.

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