Monday, 22 February 2016

Teaching Life Skills to an ASD Child

Unless you're on the spectrum or have another disability, I think we often take the simplest of tasks for granted.

Getting dressed, serving yourself food, cooking, reading, writing, talking, using the bathroom, driving, going on a bus, controlling our own bodies.

I recently made a video about how excited I am that the V-Man is interested in cooking and now he helps to set the table!
I don't want my kids to be 100% completely dependent on someone else because basic life skills are important.

And if giving him a small task makes him happy and uses up some of his extra energy-then why not?
Already, the things the V-Man has been trying to do as an independent little boy have far exceeded my expectations, his therapists and his teachers and caregivers at his overnight care.

I've made another video about dissecting why he was opening and closing cupboard doors. It wasn't because he was genuinely trying to make us go insane but because he wanted to help. He wanted us to put the dishes away and he knew the cupboard doors close after they're all dry and put away. Or when it's time to eat-the cupboard doors are supposed to open so we can get plates.

The other day he was hungry.  When he's hungry- he yells, he cries and sometimes hurts himself. V-Man can also be destructive and start ripping things or throwing things when he's upset. (Internally I want to do the same when I feel famished!)
I was cooking and supper was almost done and I could've used an extra hand but of course Hubster was separating the younger two from one of their fights, while also dealing with the V-Man's tantrum about to turn volcanic.

"Hey! V-Man-come help Mommy please!" I shouted and I don't know if he heard my voice or the opening of the cupboard doors...(my brother and I were the same in regards to hearing Pepsi being opened as kids...)

He came running. Then I had to think fast about what to give him to do since he already stirred the stir fry independently...
I handed him three IKEA plastic plates and told him to please put them on the table. I held my breath and hoped he didn't toss them in the floor or in the garbage (a new trend)- he didn't.
He not only put it on the table, he looked at me and I cheered him on and complimented him like there was no tomorrow.
He smiled and ran around for a few seconds and I handed him spoons and cups and he was thrilled to help set up the table!

So now, we are able to create some sort of pattern for him in regards to meal times and give him something to do that'll burn up energy and give him time to practice his life skills. And also give me that extra 2 minutes to finish cooking supper!

In terms of what else he's doing- he loves to take the laundry basket to the bathroom when the wash is done and gets very excited about us putting the laundry in the basket. He also enjoys handing the laundry to us while we hang it but sometimes drops it or gets going in his own rhythm so quickly that we cannot keep up with him throwing ten pieces of laundry at us.
But it's a start.
There's also the dish washer - he likes to take things out and hand it to us (or open and close those cupboard doors).

Every morning he picks his own clothes out for the day and is able to un-dress himself and helps get his own clothing on himself.
He also enjoys carrying his bag down to the taxi and when we go grocery shopping he likes to put things in the basket, carry it around (or drag it by the handle if it has wheels) and put the groceries on the conveyor belt.

These are things I could not believe would ever happen as of a year ago.
But they're happening and we're trying to respect his limits but also try and push them a bit more every day.

What's next that he could learn?
Potty-training - that's going to be the hardest, most frustrating for both parties and exciting AF once he gets it.
More cooking - right now he randomly stirs stuff but it would be nice to get him to try baking and pouring ingredients into a mixing bowl for example.  Knives - can wait.
Crafts - He does enjoy drawing but also likes to draw on the table sometimes.  So we're working on that.


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