Building Independent Sons & Daughters With Special Needs Part 2


           First give yourself permission not to be perfect and them as well

           * Start working on these skills on non-school days when expectations are less

           * Take on these roles (dumb, confused and forgetful)   “Where did I leave my keys? I wonder what we need to make your lunch, I am sorry I forgot where your jacket is, can you help me?

           Offer choices and encourage choosing (which fruit would you like in your lunch today)

           * Learn to WAIT (sit on your hands, close your lips) allow them to process and try first. Then provide more support (verbal or visual)

           * Then identify one job or two your son or daughter can do to contribute to being part of the family (unload silverware tray in dishwasher, or put something on the table for dinner, or bring in the paper or mail, carry in the milk container and put away, carry their laundry basket to wash room or just put a few items into the washer or just close the lid)

           * They could put a placemats on the table for a meal & or put out enough napkins for the whole family

           * Begin to expect them to pick up their stuff on weekends and put it back

           * Tell your son/daughter it is cold outside or raining, ask them to get what they need, WAIT before telling them or getting it.

           The night before school offer them a choice of two colors of shirts or two kinds of socks they will wear the next day.

           * When you set up an art project at home, forget something they need. WAIT, have them go find it

           *   Don’t load their meal plates. Put small quantities & then put food out of reach. Encourage them to ask for more. Don’t put anything on the plate & encourage them to say please pass the _____ or I would like some______.

           On weekends give your son/daughter of choices of activities

           * Don’t open boxes, jars, packages.  WAIT till they ask for them to be opened. Let them try to put that straw into the box of juice

           * When it is time for their bath or shower, do not turn the water on. Ask them which one is hot or cold? Which shall we turn on? Teach them to adjust temperature with knobs.

                          ** Each Time you expect your child to initiate, make a request, respond or find a solution you are increasing their cognitive development and helping them move to independence.

           ** When you choose chores think about their age & their developmental level & their physical skills. Choose just a few & then add more over time

           * They could rotate chores with their siblings

           * You can model chore, talk them through chore & or make a visual chart for the steps

           * Chores could be rewarded with praise, money or special activities with the family

           *** Cooking at home is very important. Start simple, then get into planning, purchasing. They should also help clean up afterwards ( teach opening packages, measuring, mixing, draining, chopping, eventually cutting)

           * Teach use of the toaster, microwave, blender & eventually the oven

           * Making something & then eating it immediately is very reinforcing


           Make frequent visits to your student’s program observing them involved in independent skill development.

           * Practice actual skill with the teacher or therapist when you visit and get feedback

           * Ask the teacher or therapist to help you make visuals for home

           * Make a list of all the independent skills your son needs, prioritize them with our team & begin to put them on the IEP. While the team is working on them in school pledge to work on them in the home.

           Ask you teacher or therapist to complete an independent living assessment and share results with you. Prioritize tasks. Identify which ones can be worked on in school and which at home or if both should be worked on in both environments.

           * Then sit down with the family & set a schedule for helping your student begin to learn independence

           * Agree to give choices, WAIT, assign chores, play dumb

           * Ask teachers when other family members can come to learn

           * Ask teacher to schedule your outside providers to come learn

           You Are Not Alone: Together With Others You Can Do Great Things

























Karen Kaplan