Autism Resources

Autism & Independent Living Skills

Amber Valentino June 8, 2021

Learning independent living skills, often referred to as self-help or adaptive skills, gives individuals the ability to care for themselves at home, school, work, and within the community. As they develop, all children learn independent living skills, like getting dressed, tying their shoes, personal hygiene, and more. While most children do not require direct instruction to gain these skills, children with autism may need extra support to learn these important life skills.

What Skills Are Needed For Independent Living?

Independent living skills encompass all the behaviors individuals need to care for themselves. For young children, important independent living skills include:

  • Washing hands
  • Brushing teeth
  • Getting dressed
  • Tying shoes
  • Eating at a healthy pace (not too quickly or slowly)

As individuals grow up, they may need to learn more complex independent living skills, such as:

  • Meal preparation
  • Grocery shopping
  • Job searching
  • Managing household chores
  • Personal hygiene

Benefits Of Teaching Children With Autism Self-help Skills

There are countless benefits to helping your child learn self-help skills. Not only will they gain confidence, but they’ll also be able to better integrate into their community. Many programs require a certain level of independence, like being toilet trained or being able to wash your own hands. By helping children with autism learn these important skills, they gain more access to their community and can more fully engage in their world. These skills also benefit your entire family unit. Teaching your child to participate in daily routines without constant help or supervision often relieves stress for parents, caregivers, and siblings.

Integrating Adaptive Skills Into ABA Therapy

Learning adaptive skills is a critical part of any child’s development. That’s why Trumpet integrates independent living skills into most children’s programs right from the beginning. Our team has developed hundreds of innovative clinical programs that every therapist can use within your child’s autism therapy program. While creating your child’s unique therapy plan, our Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) will work to identify what skills would most benefit your family. Then, we’ll work on helping your child master those skills first to make the biggest impact on your entire family unit.

Teaching Independent Living Skills To Children With Autism

There are several ways our therapists may teach your child adaptive skills, but a common strategy is called “chaining.” Our therapists will break down a behavior into small parts and walk your child through each step one at a time. As your child masters each part of the skill, your therapy team will add more pieces onto the chain until your child can perform the entire skill.

Family Involvement

Independent living skills are best learned when the entire family is involved. Since these skills are often used at home, parents and caregivers can take advantage of natural teaching and reinforcement moments. We offer parent coaching and support to help you recognize and capitalize on these moments. By using the techniques you learn in our coaching program, your child can learn independent living skills faster and generalize them to new environments.

Trumpet excels at helping children with autism gain independence by learning adaptive skills. If you’re interested in learning more about how ABA therapy can help your child, contact us today or find an ABA therapy center near you.


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