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When teaching self-care skills to children with ASD, it is important to start with basic skills such as washing hands, brushing teeth, and getting dressed. In addition to adding value to their daily lives, these skills can also help build a stronger foundation for learning more complex skills as they grow older.
Children with autism may find it difficult to understand multi-step instructions. Here, breaking down a task into smaller steps makes it easier for them to understand and follow. For example, instead of telling your child to brush their teeth, compartmentalize it into smaller, individual steps such as picking up the toothbrush, applying toothpaste, brushing their teeth, rinsing, and putting the toothbrush back in place.
Visual aids such as picture cards, schedules, and videos can be helpful in teaching self-care skills to children. Moreover, visual aids provide a pictorial representation of what is expected of them and help them understand the task better. For instance, you can use visual aids to show the steps involved in a particular skill set and, subsequently, provide a pictorial schedule to help them understand what they need to do next.
Social stories are characterized as short, descriptive stories that help children with ASD understand a particular situation or task. You can also use social stories to explain why self-care skills are essential and how to perform them. For example, a social story about keeping your hands clean could explain why it’s important to wash your hands, how to do it correctly, and the benefits of doing it regularly.
Teaching self-care skills to children with ASD can take time and patience. Besides, it is also essential to give them time to understand and practice the skills on a regular basis. Here, it helps a great deal when you are patient with their progress and do not get discouraged if and when they struggle to learn. Make sure you celebrate their successes and milestones, no matter how small, and keep working with them to develop their self-care skills!