Teaching life skills to children with autism helps them to build independence and self-reliance so they can thrive later in life. Life skills can range from essential self-care to more complex social decision-making. For children with autism, acquiring these skills can be challenging due to difficulties with communication, social interaction, and cognitive flexibility. However, there are ways that you can help your child build life skills, so read on for how you provide assistance, as well as what areas to focus on, depending on the child's individual needs. 

Identifying Key Life Skills 

The life skills that need teaching can vary from person to person, so it's essential to identify the life skills most important for your child's age and developmental stage. These can include:

  • Self-Care Skills: Such as dressing, eating, grooming, and hygiene.
  • Domestic Skills: Including chores like cleaning, laundry, and basic cooking.
  • Safety Skills: Understanding how to navigate environments safely, recognizing danger, and knowing how to seek help.
  • Social Skills: Skills for interacting appropriately with peers and adults, understanding social cues, and managing emotions.
  • Money Management: Basic skills like recognizing money values, making changes, and simple budgeting.
  • Time Management: Learning to follow a schedule, manage time effectively, and prioritize tasks.

Break Down Large Tasks

To aid your child in learning valuable life skills, such as the ones listed above, you should aim to break down each life skill into more manageable steps. Then, clear and consistent instructions and visual aids will be used. Images and videos can be a valuable aid in making concepts more clear for children with autism. 

Create Consistency 

For anyone learning a new skill, consistency is key! So, aim to incorporate new skills that you are learning into your child's daily routine. For example, if they're learning about meal preparation, ensure they join you in the kitchen for at least one meal a day. 

Real-Life Application 

Whenever possible, it's a good idea to teach life skills in the context they will eventually be used. For example, if you're working on money skills, go shopping, take the bus, or go out for dinner. Give your child an opportunity to practice these skills in a safe and secure environment, with you there for support. 

Utilize Technology 

Apps, such as the Autism 360 app, can be a valuable resource. It provides tailored support and customized strategies and tools to teach life skills through their platform effectively. Or if you've ever thought you or your child may be autistic, you can test online in confidence at no cost to you. 

Use Social Stories and Role Play

Using social stories and role-playing games can be particularly effective when teaching a child social and emotional life skills. It gives them a safe place to practice and can help them to understand appropriate responses to social situations. 

Visual Schedules & Positive Reinforcement 

To help children build life skills that involve daily routines, it's often advantageous to use a visual schedule. Something they can look back on and refer to at any time. This also helps to build confidence in children who thrive on predictability. In addition to visual schedules, it's imperative to give postive reinforcement and be a cheerleader for your child. Visual positive reinforcement like a reward chart, stickers, or a treat that appeals to them can be a great way to make learning an enjoyable experience.