Life Skills

Developing good life skills can be one of the main building blocks for independence. This section contains all blogs, links and articles related to life skills including: toilet training, cooking, and dating among others.

Measuring ‘Quality of Life’ For ASD: shifting from diagnosis to happiness

I recently returned from the Autism Europe Conference in Nice, France. The conference happens once every 3 years and highlights a variety of research presentations on many different topics about autism. There was one keynote speaker who really intrigued me from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet – Sven Bölte. His keynote presentation, From diagnosis to functioning and quality of life in autism,…

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“It Happens” – Fecal Smearing in Individuals with ASD

I receive a lot of questions every month about toileting difficulties. One question I am asked is what to do about fecal smearing. It’s an upsetting behavior because of the smell, mess, and unhygienic situation. Parents worry that fecal smearing will happen when their child is outside of their home – at school, daycare, or in a public place. It…

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A Viewpoint on Token Economies

Bo Hejlskov Elvén is a Swedish clinical psychologist and author of several books on challenging behavior. He is also part of the Studio 3 Low Arousal Approach group. You may have heard Bo present at one of our Canadian conferences in Vancouver, Halifax, or Edmonton. Bo has a wonderful website where he blogs in English on a variety of topics…

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The Difficulties with Toilet Training a Person with Autism

The topic of toilet training or toileting issues continues to be my most frequently asked question. I’m asked what to do about withholding a bowel movement, toileting readiness, fecal smearing, constipation, continued use of diapers, elimination on the floor or other inappropriate place, and how to teach the toileting process. These are all very important questions that can be hard…

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Developing Leisure Activities for Individuals with ASD

Leisure activities are an important part of life for everyone. Engaging in activities that are fun, enjoyable and interesting increases a person’s well-being, happiness and satisfaction in life. Leisure activities can be done alone or in a group, at home or out in the community. We learn activities by watching others, taking lessons, joining clubs, reading instructions, or simply by…

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Getting Summer Work Experience For Those With Autism

My children, Marc and Julia, have been involved in their first work experience this summer. They finished their final shift of four at the Famer’s Market yesterday. What a great learning experience this has been for the kids. Their work environment was a supportive one, surrounded by people they knew through my figure skating club. Volunteering gave them a chance to see what working was like, presented them with challenges and gave them opportunities for personal growth.

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Sleep disorders in autism directly affect social skills: new study

Sleep disorders have long been a topic of discussion around those with autism. With an estimated 50 to 80 percent of children with ASD suffering from insomnia, sleep behaviour is finally getting the study it deserves. From blue light being linked to sleep disturbances in older children and teens who use tech devices, to the hypothesis that there may be a…

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Tantrums in Autism: new study says it’s behaviour not frustration

We’ve all been there: watching as our child completely breaks into uncontrollable rage/tears in front of us. Sometimes it’s in the privacy of our own homes, but when you have a child with autism, more often than not it will be in public as well. Up until recently, there has been a common misconception that poor communication/low verbal skills in people with…

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How to Teach Money Management for Independent Living with Autism

Becoming an independent adult with ASD involves a large skill set that needs to be planned out over the lifetime of your child. I recently posted an article on establishing clear guidelines around sexuality early on. Money management is no different. Being able to pay for items and stick to a budget is a barrier to successful independence. Many people –…

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Toilet Training for Children with Autism

The most frequently asked questions I get tend to be about toileting training the child with ASD. The biggest quandry is knowing when to start the process. In many cases, you can’t use the typically developing child guidelines as these may not apply to a child with developmental delays. Although I have never found a study to confirm this, I feel that language development may be a factor in toilet training/readiness. The more limited the language skills are, the more delayed toilet training is. I am not saying, though, that a child with no verbal skills can’t be toilet trained. Both of my children were late talkers (almost 5 years of age) and both were late toilet trainers. My son was 9.5 years and my daughter 6 years old. They were both trained for uriniation earlier than that, at about age 4, but it was the bowel movement that was the hardest thing to train.

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What’s Cooking? Life Skills for Kids with Autism!

I attended an excellent seminar last night sponsored by the Autism Calgary Association. The guest speaker was Penny Gill, President of the Autism/PDD Family Alliance in Southern Ontario. Her presentation, Overcoming the Challenges: Teaching Someone with Autism Spectrum Disorder to Cook Really Well, showed us that you can teach someone with an ASD the important life skill of cooking provided the challenges are understood and the right supports are in place. Penny runs a cooking school out of her home for people with ASD ages 18 and over. Her eight week sessions work on more than just cooking; her students work on social skills, sensory issues, motor challenges and food aversions.

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Should we insist on eye contact from children with autism?

Making eye contact has been a long debate in the autism community. Eye contact is a necessary skill for navigating social landscapes at work and school. Lack of eye contact is one of the hallmarks of autism, but should we insist on it? Why do children find it difficult to make eye contact? A new study, published in November in…

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