Work on Self-Help Skills with Your Child with Autism

“Dressing, Toileting, Washing, Brushing teeth, Combing hair, and Eating Independently – these are just a few of the skills that will support your child with autism to learn to take care of themselves. Here are some helpful suggestions that will show you how you can approach these things in a fun and motivating way for your child.

1) “Be aware of the bigger picture. Everything you want to teach your child on the spectrum begins with their ability to engage with people. The more engaged your child is with you, the longer you will have their attention. Therefore, you will have more opportunities to coach them in these skills. Use the following Son-Rise Program techniques before you work on self-help skills. This will lay the foundation for you to work on self-help skills more easily with your child.

– “Assessing your child for Green Lights and Red Lights (to know when your child is ready to learn new things and when they are not).

– “Bonding with your child when they are in a Red Light (involved in repetitive activities).

– “Lengthening your child’s Interactive Attention Span when they are in a Green Light (looking smiling, responding to you, or playing with you).

2) “Be a Role Model of fun and delight around each self-help skill you want to teach your child. For example, playfully Entertain them with their clothes before you even ask your child to get dressed. You could fly their pants around the room like a helicopter. You could excitedly get dressed in your clothes while singing a song you both love. You could dress their favorite stuffed animal in your child’s underwear and have an underwear dance party! Being playful around this will give your child a positive association with doing this skill, and they will be more open to dressing themselves later.

3) “Let your child be the boss! It is very common for our children to have many demands placed on them (in school, therapies, from society, etc.) This can result in them becoming controlling around some of the things you want to help them learn. Avoid physically manipulating your child (moving them against their will) to encourage them with self-help skills. Focus on inviting them to do these things by themselves instead. This will give your child a greater sense of predictability and encourage them to be more open and trusting of your attempts at helping them. Other examples of giving them control are offering choices (e.g. having an array of available toothbrushes they can pick from) or inviting them to brush your teeth or their Dinosaur figurine’s teeth before you ask them to brush their own teeth.

“Don’t forget to celebrate your child’s movements toward accomplishing these skills. Expressing your love, delight, and appreciation for your child will serve as an inspiring beacon for them to move toward you and learn these skills.

“We believe that teaching your child self-help skills using these steps could be enjoyable for you and your child and remove any current battles you have around this. Have fun!”

Becky Damgaard, Senior Son-Rise Program Teacher

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