On October 19, Dr. Dana Reinecke presented “10 Things to Know Before You Leave Home (And How to Learn Them)” at Transitions’ “Strategies to Build Independence for Students with Autism, ADHD and Other Learning Differences” conference. Her presentation covered basic skills that are more challenging for young adults with autism and other learning differences and strategies their support network can use to prepare them to perform those essential tasks on their own. We would like to share what we learned from Dr. Reinecke in this series of posts.
A young adult must know how to clean and maintain their space. Skills needed in this area include dusting, vacuuming, sweeping, washing hard surfaces, cleaning bathrooms, changing sheets and washing dishes by hand.
Strategy: Environmental arrangements
Using visual arrangements and providing easy access to materials will increase the likelihood that the desired behavior – cleaning – will happen. This means that all the supplies needed for that task should be easy to get to in the place where they need it. Visual reminders such as sticky notes and notifications on cell phones are also helpful.
Schedules are also helpful when it comes to encouraging cleaning. Use visual prompts that provide specific instructions. The schedules can be pictorial, textual or a combination of both, and they can apply within the activity (step-by-step instructions) or across activities (what day of the week the person should do each task).
Objective 1: Dust, vacuum and clean as needed
Use a pictorial schedule across activities so the person can develop a routine of when each room or object needs to be cleaned. For example, use a calendar with pictures of rooms and cleaning supplies on the days the corresponding task needs to be done. The individual can cross off tasks as they go and see their progress.
Objective 2: Change sheets once a week
Use a pictorial and written schedule within the activity, so the person learns how to do the task and which order to do the task in.
Objective 3: Wash dishes whenever necessary
Use a written schedule within the activity, a step-by-step list of washing, drying and putting away each dish and utensil.
We hope these tips and strategies are helpful to you. Please remember that these are generalized examples and all goals, objectives, teachings and support strategies should always be individualized to see beneficial results. Feel free to mix and max strategies discussed in each post to fit the person you’re teaching. Everyone learns differently, so being flexible and working from individual strengths is absolutely essential in teaching these skills.
Good luck and check this blog again on Friday for the next installment in this series.