No matter the age, engaging in some type of activity to help oneself is important. An age old question that many parents or caregivers ask is when should a child begin learning chores or self-help skills. This can relate to any child but it poses a bigger challenge for those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). What chores and self-help skills are appropriate for your child? A lot of it depends on their listening and motor skills. The six types of chores listed below will give you a place to start with your child.
- Making the bed: This is an easy task to show a child how to perform it and they can pick this task up relatively quickly even if they struggle with motor skills. A neurotypical 2-3 year old can perform this task so it’s a good basic level one to start with.
- Set the table: This is a task that can adapt over time but is relatively easy for children who struggle with motor skills as well. Once the child is given a model and help of where the plate, cup and silverware should go, they can perform this task with ease.
- Drying/Unloading dishes: Since this task is relatively straightforward, it is an easy skill to teach a child with ASD. Once they know where the dish items go, they can match where the other items go as well.
- Wiping surfaces: Since most children with ASD have had some contact or history with cleaning themselves with a rag/paper towel, they are able to transfer this skill to wiping off counters and tables.
- Putting dirty clothes in the hamper/laundry: This task is similar to making the bed. If they have worked on cleaning up skills before, they should pick up the task and it does not require complex motor skills.
- Cleaning up table after snack/meal: This task can be done either by handing their dishes to an adult, throwing their trash away or having them put their dishes in the sink, depending on their developmental age and motor skills. Have the child start with something basic and in their repertoire of skills but slowly work up to doing more of the task (start by handing a plate to an adult and then eventually work up to putting dishes in the sink).
Once your child has mastered the skills above, they can work on more complex tasks such as showering themselves, dressing themselves, taking care of plants or animals, and cooking. I hope this brings excitement and peace of mind to your house and family to be able to have another set of helping hands and that you understand how important these lifelong skills are for your child.