Life skills are the strategies, techniques and approaches all people use to survive and succeed in our everyday lives. Some of us obtain life skills without even thinking about it. Many of us learn them from our parents and loved ones, others observe other people going through their daily routines as a model, and some learn from the process of trial and error. For many students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), life skills might not come as easily. Students with ASD might simply struggle to figure them out, or never have the opportunity to practice them because everything is done for them. By teaching life skills in the classroom and modeling the appropriate techniques, we can help these children and young adults become more independent and set them on a path for success in their future.
The following are steps for teaching life skills in the classroom:
Step 1: Create a social story for the students that include images of and instructions of the activity or location they will be going. To learn more about social stories, visit Touch Autism's website.
Step 2: In a play session, model the activity that you will be doing. For example, if you are going to the barber, set up a barbershop in your dramatic play area for students to play freely with the tools. Allow time for peer modeling and role-play scenarios.
Step 3: Pull back and let students begin to learn from their mistakes (trial and error). Allow for independence.
Step 4: You are ready to put your skills to the test. This is a great time to go out into the community and practice.
At CTC, we have the opportunity to work on these skills frequently throughout the day in Community-Based Instruction (CBI), Floortime, and weekly life skills classes. I have seen some great successes with my students after following these steps, and allowing them the opportunities to become more independent. -Samantha Losurdo, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Teaching for me is all about the fun! Think about the classes you remember - you remember them because you had fun. In my opinion, the best lessons are when students don’t even realize that they are learning because they are having such an enjoyable experience. Almost any topic can be taught in a fun way. For example, say you wanted to name all the planets; you can make them a survey in a game of Family Feud. If you want to teach probability, you can set up a class tricky tray where students are asked what the chances are of winning an item is based on how many colored tickets they put in the bag. Doing activities with friends or as part of a team makes learning more enjoyable and the different strengths of each student can be showcased. When students are having fun, their self esteem is affected. They feel better about themselves and are more likely to tackle a task and be successful. - Lisa Silva, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.