I am so excited to welcome another guest blogger, Owen Smith from NCC Home Learning! It's so amazing how I've been able to have two guest bloggers now! The next one will be mine, though! ATTENTION: THIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT!
In order to survive, we all need basic life skills but for children with Autism, their literal view of the world can be a significant barrier to living a fulfilling life. But like all of us, it is possible for children with Autism to learn these essential skills but what are they, and how can they be taught? For educational staff and carers, there are many challenges in raising and working with a child with Autism. It is a major concern that all children learn how to interact appropriately with others (and how others should interact with them), stay safe and recognize dangers and hazards. For a child with Autism, this can be a harder task but, as with Autism courses helping us to understand these complex brain development issues, we can work successfully with Autistic adults and children to develop key life skills.
1. Organizational Skills
Many of us don’t think twice about organizing the small things in life. In some ways, life is like a recipe – there are lists of ingredients and in order to get the final product, they need to be combined in ways that maximize success. But this means seeing the bigger picture and understanding why some things work together and some don’t.
But for children with Autism, understanding and executing organisational skills can be a big deal. Developing these skills is difficult – it takes practices as well a trying different means of helping them understanding key organisation skills they need.
2. Practical Living Skills
Again, these are skills that we take for granted, usually after being introduced to them once and learning how to do them. From budgeting to having a cleaning schedule, these living tasks can be bewildering for a child with Autism.
There are no ‘one-stop’ solutions to this. But some parents and carers have found that getting their child to help them put the washing in the machine, switching it on and so on, are repetitive tasks that can help them understand and perform these skills.
It is a process that will take a child with Autism longer to grasp, not because their intelligence is lacking but because their view of the world can be very different to ours.
3. Personal Care
Not all children and adults with Autism find personal care a challenge – as with all the other life skills listed here – but the conflicting information on how and why we should do things can be confusing.
Managing personal care is more than brushing teeth: it is about a balanced, nutritious diet, taking physical exercise, what to do if we feel dehydrated and so on.
The onset of puberty, a sometimes challenging subject for carers and teachers of children with Autism, also presents difficulties and additional concerns when it comes to personal care.
4. Job Skills
There is no reason why children with Autism cannot look forward to a fulfilling career. In fact, with changing attitudes and growing understanding of autism means that many more audlts with Autism are entering the world of work.
But it is not just going to work every day: it is applying for jobs, attending interviews and more. The answer may lay in helping children to understanding the world of work by volunteering.
Helping a child with Autism to volunteer helps to identify and cement they skills they need to enjoy a job and a career.
5. Personal Safety
The world is big. Thankfully, the majority of people are not intent on causing harm to others. But the recent discussion around the #MeToo campaign shows what a difficult world it can be to navigate.
Personal safety is not just about protecting ourselves from the person who clearly intents to harm us, but from the sneakier means that some people have and do use to take advantage.
It is not just a discussion about keeping ourselves safe from sexual predators, but other issues too such as crossing the road safely.
Defining risks, hazards and dangers is difficult because they continually change and shift. It includes all manner of safety issues, from staying safe online to staying safe when out socialising.
6. People Skills
There is, however. A question of balance. Teaching a child with Autism that there are ‘strangers’ they can trust, as well as social skills and more is a broad topic. Etiquette and expectations muddy the waters, making it even tougher to teach children with a literal view of world how to interact with people.
7. Saying NO
These life skills are not important for children and young people with Autism, but all children and young people. The skill of saying no is not something that comes easy, especially when children are taught that some people are ‘in charge’ and must be listened to and respected. And yet, we then tell them it is okay to say no. But they mustn’t be rude…
No one said learning or teaching life skills is easy, more so to children with Autism who can have a very different view of the world than others. But what other skills do you think are important for children to learn?
NCC Home Learning have over 300 courses available to study online, including a range of awareness courses ideal for parents and carers of children with Autism, as well as teachers and teaching assistants. Why not connect with them on Twitter @NCC HomeLearning