5 Steps To Help Your Child Become More Independent

January 6, 2012

Preventing Behaviors

Kathy, whose teenage son is on the autism spectrum, wanted to help her son feel more in control and live as independently as possible when it came to his activities of daily living such as doing laundry.  Kathy shared with me that her son struggles with remembering the sequence of some of the components of doing laundry.   Her son was becoming agitated because Kathy was always having to say to him, “No  Jon, that’s not what you need to do.”

“Truthfully, it feels like it’s more effortful and takes much longer to do the laundry when I let my son try to help,” said Kathy.  She quickly added, “But I know it’s important for him to feel like a helpful, important part of our family.”

As a father of 3 boys on the autism spectrum I know how Kathy feels.  When I attempt to do laundry with my boys it DOES take longer and I have to be more patient.  However, a part of maintaining a healthy relationship and parenting your child involves you helping to build his/her sense of self-esteem and independence.

Tasks that require sequential processing often constitute an area of weakness in autism.  Therefore, I shared with Kathy a very useful positive support strategy that would help her problem-solve the frustration that her son was feeling.  This positive support strategy is considered best-practice and would help her son correctly sequence the various components of doing laundry.

A visual task sequence can support your child in understanding a sequencing of tasks, reduce frustration, and increase independence.

“Once I understood the step in how to create a visual task sequence,” said Kathy, “It wasn’t all that hard!”  Here are the steps that Kathy implemented in creating a visual task sequence to support her son in doing the laundry independently:

  1. Kathy wrote out the sequential steps that are involved in doing laundry (i.e., sorting clothes by color, placing clothes in washing machine, turning the indicator knob to desired setting, adding detergent, etc.).
  2. Kathy used a digital camera to take a photograph that represented each sequential step that she had written.  For example, she took a picture of herself adding a cupful of detergent and pouring it into the washing machine to help her mother to remember to complete this step.
  3. Kathy then placed each picture that represented a component of doing laundry in the same sequential order that she had written out in Step 1.  The pictures were placed in a row from left to right.
  4. Kathy then placed the pictures on the wall above the washing machine so that the pictures were easy to see when standing in front of the washing machine.
  5. Like any new concept, Kathy then taught her son the purpose of the visual task sequence and how to use it.

Two weeks later Kathy shared with me, “It took several tries for my son to get the idea of referencing the visual task sequence in order to remember the correct steps in doing laundry, but once he got it, it worked like a charm!” “He is so much happier now by being able to help out around the house without me having to watch his every step!”

Kathy’s story ended in success because the positive support strategy that she used was a “good fit” for the problem-solving response that was needed for this particular problem.  If you’d like to learn more about positive support strategies and how you can use them then I invite you to click “subscribe” to the Special Friends Ministry blog so that you can be easily notified every time something new is posted!

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About Michael Woods

Christ-follower, husband, chocoholic, and peanut-butter lover! I'm a father to triplet boys...each on the autism spectrum.

View all posts by Michael Woods


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One Comment on “5 Steps To Help Your Child Become More Independent”

  1. Treat Autism Now Says:

    Very well made Video ! Will share it !


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