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How Teachers and Parents Can Work Together to Teach Daily Living Skills to Children with Autism (Summary)

Article Summary:

Many individuals with autism have deficits in their ability to function independently and need extensive instruction to master daily living skills. The lack of these skills can have negative affects on adult outcomes and occupational achievement. Federal law requires that schools and families work together in teaching these skills and planning transitions. This article explains the following three techniques that can be used both at home and in school to teach functional daily living skills to students with autism:

Three Techniques identified for teaching functional daily living skills:

  1. Videotaped Modeling
    This technique involves video taping another student correctly performing the chosen task. The video tape can then be shone repeatedly to the student trying to learn the skill. Benefits to using this technique include saving time, lessens need for transportation planning, and involves less risk than extensive community-based instruction.

    Examples: Making purchases in a convenience store produce social responses in a cafeteria setting.

  2. Photographic or Pictorial Schedules
    This technique uses a series of pictures to show the stages of a task. This could be seen as a visual task analysis.
    Examples: Cooking skills, clerical tasks, laundry tasks, and using a computer.

  3. Peer/Sibling Tutoring
    This technique focuses on allowing students with disabilities to observe and model actions after students without disabilities that are performing tasks.

    Examples: Selecting a library book, purchasing items at a convenience store, and crossing the street.

Next, the article discusses how these skills can be reinforced at home. It is suggested that the same three techniques can be used at home to reinforce the skills being taught to the students by teachers. Copies of the videotapes can be taken and shown at home for further reinforcement, children in the neighborhood or siblings can be used in the videotapes. Pictorial activity schedules can also be used at home for teaching household responsibilities or tasks such as making the bed. Siblings or children in the neighborhood can also act as tutors. For example, the child and his or her peers can play store where counting money and making change can be modeled and instructed. The overall message of this article is that children with autism with have more independence and success as adults if the necessary skills are taught at school and reinforced at home.

Reference: Carothers, D.E. and Taylor, R.L. (2004). How Teachers and Parents Can Work Together to Teach Daily Living Skills to Children with Autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 19:2, 102-104.

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