Life skills are abilities that enable a person to be an independent and productive member of society.
People with autism live with varying levels of impairment, so the amount of life skills training each person needs will vary based upon their personal level of development.
Some individuals, for example, might need help with dressing and hygiene while another person struggles with cash and credit card transactions.
It’s critical for children on the spectrum to receive some degree of therapy to address language, communication, and social interaction. A combination of therapy and life skills is the best way to do that. When these areas are developed together, the child is more prepared for transitioning into mainstream society.
Life skills usually focus on the following areas:
- Speech and language
- Communication and social skills
- Self regulation skills
- How to follow directions
- Toilet training and personal hygiene skills
- Dressing independently
- Cooking and housekeeping skills
- Safety skills
- Job training
A 2015 study funded by Autism Speaks and Foundation of Hope found that,
“the single most important predictor of positive outcomes in adulthood is the mastery of life skills such as bathing, dressing, cleaning and cooking. According to the researchers who tracked children with autism into middle adulthood, these skills prove more important than language, intellectual ability or the severity of autism symptoms when it comes to maintaining employment and achieving satisfaction.”Autism Speaks & Foundation of Hope
A positive outlook
The process of learning some life skills can take a long time to acquire.
For skills like cooking that involve potentially dangerous materials and conditions, it’s important to spend extra time teaching children how to use them safely.
Fortunately, a child’s prognosis for living a full, independent life is a positive one, given they are provided with adequate and consistent life skills training to help them deal with the demands of daily routines, as well as socialization and hygiene.
So, start as early as possible, and make sure your child’s school or therapy center has a life skills program.