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.

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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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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A Home of One’s Own: One Woman’s Journey to Independent Living with Autism

When you are a parent of a child with an autism spectrum disorder, you worry about the child’s future as an adult. Will they be able to live on their own? What happens if a parent is no longer able to care for their adult child? Canadian psychologist Dr. Lillian Burke believes only 3% of adults with Asperger Syndrome are able to live independently with no support. With this statistic in mind, what services and supports need to be in place to make the transition from the parental home to independent living? Can independent living be an option?

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7 Household Chores for a Child with ASD

While many of us learn to dislike our chores or household duties, we all like the feeling that we can help! Household chores can be loads of fun especially for younger children who actively look for ways to participate. For those on the spectrum, household chores can be a way to improve or create self-esteem, and ultimately lead towards more…

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Nurturing Independence In Autism

Teaching independence is a baby steps process that starts at an early age. When working with children with autism on any skill, you have to think it forward. How will this look and function at age 5, 10 or 18? Imagining where you want this person to be as an adult is a good motivator to teach independence skills. It gives a framework to set goals.

There are small, gradual ways to build independence. The foundation of independence is using visual supports. I have written about the effective use of visual supports in a past blog. Visual supports can be used to break down the steps of any task. When the steps are put on a strip, the person with autism now has those for a handy reference. I’ve used this idea for routines like getting dressed, toileting, hand washing and brushing teeth. There are some great ideas for this on the Do2Learn website. Thinking this forward, these tasks strips could be used for doing laundry or dishes.

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“Sucking It Up” To Pass as Non-Autistic

Happy Autism Awareness Day! This year’s theme is inclusion and neurodiversity. This post was originally published on Judy Endow’s site, and is reposted here in honour of Autism Awareness Day. French Translation: Se faire violence pour « passer sous le radar » de l’autisme  ‎ It is a lot of work to look non-autistic …and yet, looking non-autistic is the ticket to…

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5 Ways To Create Predictability: Part 2 of “Triad of Impairments” in Autism

Predictability is the ability to know and understand what is coming up next in your day. Many of us feel less anxious when we know what is expected of us, and how we are going to navigate our day to day lives. For someone on the spectrum, where even knowing which washroom to use -unless it is exactly like the one they are used to using at home- can be a major challenge. Predictability is a way for someone on the spectrum to assuage their anxiety over the unknown, and empower themselves into their daily tasks. For some of the spectrum, not knowing what to expect at a new school, in a new restaurant, or while on vacation can make life unbearable for themselves and their caregivers.

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The Trials of Toilet Training An Older Child With Autism

There is almost no literature available on training the older child with autism. Traditional children’s books all use the potty chair to teach toilet training. Animated characters on videos do not explain the elimination process or show exactly what to do. It took us nine years to get my son Marc using the toilet on his own, and here is how we did it.

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Finding Work For Those with Autism: Self Employment Success

Many adults with  autism have difficulty being accepted in, and carving a niche in the working world. While they may have troubles communicating verbally, they might still be able to, and want to contribute in a meaningful way through work. While most provinces in Canada have programs available to help those with autism find work, and there is a growing number…

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What Life Skills Do Our Kids With Autism Need to Succeed?

Sometimes it’s hard to imagine where our kids will be several years from now. What will their life look like once they leave home? What skills will they need to be successful as an adult? What is a meaningful life for this adult with ASD?

These questions swirl around in my mind all the time. My children aren’t many years away from accessing adult services. I often think of the skills they will need to be successful. Those skills will vary for each child depending on their functioning level.

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Feeding Challenges and Food Aversions: Helpful Hints for Parents of Children with Autism

Feeding a child on the autism spectrum can be a great challenge for parents. Creating healthy meals, eating a variety of foods, eating too little or too much food, focusing on only one texture or food presentation, and gut/digestive issues are just some of the worries parents have when feeding their children. Here are a few helpful hints that I have learned as a mother of two children with autism who are both on specialized diets and struggle with eating.

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Are Current Self-Advocacy Skills Only For The Middle Class?

I am an avid reader of Judy Endow’s blog because she highlights issues that many of us are not even aware of. Her recent post about the differences in self-advocacy if you are poor or middle income was eye-opening.

Judy has been both poor and middle income as an autistic adult and has observed that “self-advocacy is typically geared toward middle-income status. This could be problematic since many autistic adults live in poverty.”

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Teaching Toileting Hidden Rules and Etiquette

When at a restaurant this week, I went to use the bathroom. Luckily, I speak French and knew the difference between femmes and garçons so could navigate which bathroom to use. Had my two children with autism been confronted with that on the doors, they wouldn’t have known which door to choose. It got me thinking…how to do we teach the symbols for toilet, which one to use if you’re male or female, and general washroom etiquette?

After doing some searching, I did find a good page filled with different symbols for the washrooms. While this doesn’t cover all of it because there is a vast, creative, array of toilet symbols, it’s at least a  starting point to let a person with ASD know there is a variety of toilet signs and they can change from place to place. Restaurants tend to be the most creative with their bathroom signs, so when at a new restaurant, it would be a good idea to accompany the person with ASD even if they are independent with toileting. There will also be symbol differences between countries and languages. If planning a trip to another country, you may want to review the toilet symbols before you go to create some predictablility and lessen anxiety.

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