5 Engaging and Meaningful Activities for Autistic Adults

5 Engaging and Meaningful Activities for Autistic Adults

Are you searching for fun activities for autistic adults to establish a new routine, promote sensory and processing abilities, and learn life skills?

If the answer’s yes, then this guide is for you. 

Encouraging adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to engage in educational, recreational, and social activities will have lasting benefits. In other words, these activities aim to help autistic adults lead a whole and more fulfilling life. 

So, for those interested in learning specific autism-friendly activities, make sure you check below.

Why Activities and Hobbies are Important

To maintain overall physical and mental wellness, you need to have adequate activities and hobbies. That applies to all people.

Through music, dancing, cooking, and even walking, autistic adults will experience an increased quality of life. It’s important to know that activities don’t stop at a certain age. On the contrary, they should be constantly promoted.

Hence, through activities, autistic adults will have a chance to:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Increase independence
  • Feel joy and fulfillment
  • Promote fine motor skills
  • Feel accepted as a member of the community 

However, it's crucial to plan all activities according to the interests, abilities, and strengths of the adult. So, let’s jump to it. 

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5 Fun but Practical Activities for Autistic Adults

1. Music Classes

Music is a broad medium that surpasses all abilities and disabilities. And considering that sound, or, in this case, music, is a primary human response, many autistic adults have a positive reaction to it.  

Through music activities – repeating particular rhythmic patterns, repeating the melody, trying to remember a song, and eventually playing an instrument with or without someone – you’ll address behavioral, sensory-motor, social, communicative, physical, psychological, and cognitive functioning.

What's great about music is that you can adapt all the activities related to it to meet the needs of each individual since sound is flexible and malleable. 

The most common musical instruments used for autism are percussion instruments, ukulele, keyboard/piano, and guitar. 

2. Dance Classes

The aim of each dance is to raise awareness of body movement so that you can communicate through that movement. Note that the only universal language is the one transmitted through our bodies and moving patterns. 

Therefore, your goal is to join the moving pattern of the autistic individual through dance therapy or any dance-related activities so you can then modify, improve and grow that pattern. In other words, you’re communicating with them by moving with them. 

And, there’s no need to say that you’re improving sensory-motor skills, or in other words, increasing body awareness in the process. 

3. Arts and Crafts

A great tool for nonverbal expression is art. Painting, drawing, building, assembling, sculpting, and writing are therapeutic, calming, and, most of all, fun.

Autistic adults will have the opportunity to explore different mediums and learn how to express themselves by using those mediums. Art and autism complete each other, and by creating any piece of art, the person will improve his motor skills, increase self-esteem, develop social skills, and fulfill sensory needs.

Here are some fun arts and crafts ideas: 

  • Finger painting
  • Sensory bottles
  • Bubble wrap abstract painting
  • Sand art projects

4. Outdoor Activities/Sports

You don’t have to go to fancy gyms or sports halls; a simple walk in the park or the neighborhood can also do wonders for adults.

Spending time outdoors is healthy for both the mind and body, so it’s crucial to have regular outdoor recreational activities (adapted to the person's abilities). It’ll improve the person’s mood and help improve their attention span and motor skills. 

All the following activities are a great way to spend time with the autistic adult in your life:

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Hiking
  • Horseback riding
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Gardening

If we’re talking about a group of autistic adults, you can prepare simple obstacle games. They would need to interact with each other and be active all the time during the activity.

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5. Cooking

Cooking activities are not only fun, interactive, and great for bonding but also essential for life in general.

Learning how to cook is fundamental to life. And, when you’re preparing the food together, you’re giving the autistic adult a sense of teamwork and connection. 

Before you start cooking or baking, make sure you’ve got the right recipe. Choose according to the autistic individual because they can be quite picky when it comes to the smell and texture of the food. 

Easy and quick meals would be:

  • Pancakes
  • Gluten-free pizzas
  • Smoothies
  • Sandwiches
  • Homemade chicken nuggets
  • Sugar-free blueberry muffins

Helping Learn New Skills

Helping autistic adults learn new challenges and skills is not an easy task, but through certain activities, the process of learning can become, if not easier, more fun. 

The most important thing is to create a safe and supportive environment where autistic individuals have the freedom to engage. Try various activities, be creative, and pay attention to what the autistic adult finds most pleasing. And most of all, enjoy!

Let me know if you try any of these activities for autistic adults, and if you have more interesting ideas, don't hesitate to share them with me.

Benefits of Life Skills to Help Improve your Quality of Life

Benefits of Life Skills to Help Improve your Quality of Life

In this post you will learn about the benefits of life skills and how they can improve your quality of life.

Life skills are a cornerstone in today’s fast-paced world. They enable us to manage and accomplish complex tasks in many settings and navigate our personal and professional lives effectively. Since they impact every aspect of our lives, it’s best to develop them to ensure a happy and productive life.

In this article, we’ll tell you what life skills are, how they impact everyday life, and how to develop them. So, read on to learn more!

Understanding Life Skills

The term ‘Life Skills' refers to the skills you need to make the most out of life. Any skill that is useful in your life can be considered a life skill.

Life skills can be functional abilities individuals use to navigate their daily lives. These skills can refer to passive skills, such as self-awareness, emotional regulation, empathy, and resilience, and active skills, such as goal-setting, communication, organization, and time management.

Why Is It Important to Develop Life Skills?

It should be your mission to hone your life skills, as they’ll help you overcome any challenge you face in your everyday life. Let’s explain the impact they have on three main fields to give you a better picture of what we’re talking about.

Personal Development

Developing your skills will help you become more self-aware, resilient, and a better communicator and decision-maker.

For example, developing self-discipline, focus, open-mindedness, and self-attribution will help you become more self-aware. This allows you to make informed decisions, take actions that align with your values, and understand their impact on yourself and others.

Similarly, developing your empathy, communication, and listening skills will enable you to communicate more effectively, maintain healthy relationships, express yourself more confidently, and set proper boundaries with others.

Finally, skills such as patience, anger, stress, and money management help you become more adaptable and flexible to challenges. This way, you’ll remain motivated and continue striving for what you want, ensuring your success and happiness.

Benefits of life skills

Professional Development

Some key professional skills, including critical thinking, teamwork, organizing, planning, and communication, will help you thrive professionally. 

For example, hard work, perseverance, excellent communication skills, and punctuality make you a desirable employee to many employers. By developing them, you’ll have better chances of landing a job you’re interested in.

Again, by developing your empathy, leadership, and management skills, you can become an outstanding leader to your co-workers and successfully carry out any managerial duties, whether you’re an employee or a business owner.

Finally, professional lives revolve around teamwork and collaboration. Most of the time, you’ll be working alongside many individuals to carry out everyday tasks. Having great teamwork, collaboration, and communication skills will help smooth out any potential frustrations and ensure a hassle-free work experience.

Social Development

Having healthy social relationships with others directly affects your mental health. You can potentially jeopardize your standing with others if you skimp out on important social skills, such as empathy, listening, compromising, and caring.

Developing these skills will help you understand yourself better and ensure deeper and more meaningful relationships with your family, friends, and partners. These skills also extend to your standing in society since you’ll be able to find your purpose and contribute to your community further.

You can get your Free Life Skills Checklist to Help Autistic Teens Transition into Adulthood

You can get your free life skills checklist to help autistic teens transition into adulthood and help improve their quality of life. Just CLICK HERE to get your free life skills checklist, or click on the image below.

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How Can I Develop Life Skills?

There are countless ways to develop life skills. Initially, you need to learn what skills you want to improve and acquire. This will allow you to plan accordingly and set realistic goals. It’s best to break down your tasks to improve a skill into smaller, more manageable steps to not get overwhelmed.

Read and Watch

One way to go about learning life skills is by reading or watching videos about them. You can check articles, books, websites, and blogs. They contain a great deal of information about a large selection of skills. Nowadays, it’s easy to learn something as difficult as playing an instrument by following online courses!

Attend Workshops and Communicate

However, you’re not limited to teaching yourself. Some life skills, such as anger and stress management, are best improved through workshops and group gatherings that help you learn more about yourself and express yourself better. 

Practice and Seek Feedback

Another piece of advice: the best way to develop life skills is to practice them regularly. Stepping out of your comfort zone, although terrifying at first, will help you build self-confidence and overcome your fears. You should also seek feedback as much as possible from knowledgeable others or relevant people to monitor your progress.

Be Patient

Developing your life skills is a lengthy process, so be patient! Don’t expect to become great at something you struggle with after reading a single article or book – it takes months, if not years, of practice!


Life skills play an important role in enabling us to navigate the challenges we face in everyday life, whether in a professional, social, or academic context. It should be your mission to improve your life skills to lead a happy and fulfilling life!

Our Best Functional Life Skills cover the most critical skills everyone should have, so check it out!

Similarly, our Social Skills for Teens guide covers many skills necessary to improve your relationships with others!

Vocational Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

Vocational Goals: A Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing what you want to be when you grow up is confusing as you transition into adulthood, but it could be really challenging for autistic individuals.

Conceptualizing how different life skills are adjusted to new environments and applications often may not come naturally for autistic individuals. It’s could also be difficult for them to translate skills, interests, and aspirations into conceivable goals and professions.

That’s where vocational goals come in. As a special education professional, understanding the nuances of vocational goal setting and the communication around it is crucial for your success in that area.

Oftentimes, the family or caregivers of autistic teens and young adults may not be able to help or even visualize their family members entering the workforce. This can hinder their ability to support them through this transition without a game plan.

What Are Vocational Goals?

Vocational goals are goals created to help people achieve employability in careers that are consistent with their abilities, interests, limitations, and aspirations.

Vocational goals could include skills needed to find a job, maintain a job, or perform specific tasks required for the job. This could include anything from interviewing skills to following a bus schedule or practicing routine tasks. Like any other IEP goal, vocational goals must be age appropriate and measurable.

While this is a general term that can benefit everyone, it’s integral for the success of people with mental health conditions, such as autism and ADHD.

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Why Are Vocational Goals Important for People on the Spectrum?

The reality of autism poses some unique challenges in setting vocational goals.

Most young adults often have inaccurate expectations of what work entails. However, young adults on the spectrum may sometimes be very competent in tasks related to the job itself and instead struggle with social interactions or expectations within the work environment.

Some simple examples of that are maintaining the appropriate tone of voice or volume, receiving instructions, and managing negative stimuli.

Vocational Goals Examples for Allistic vs. Autistic People

First I just want to clarify Allistic simply means a non autistic person.

There’s nothing inherently allistic or autistic about any given life skill. However, how tasks and goals are phrased and evaluated is often where most autistic individuals struggle.

While unclear instructions are generally problematic for most workers, their effect is almost negligible on an allistic individual compared to how that may affect someone on the spectrum.

They may also not address granular life skills that don’t come naturally to autistic individuals. So how you choose to create these goals can make or break your students’ chances.

Here are some examples where you can see how a vocational goal can be made differently:

Allistic-Appropriate GoalAutistic Appropriate Goal
Manage stress from long commutesTransfer from one bus to another safely and calmly
Be an effective member of the teamDiscriminate between personal and general information.
Have constructive and healthy relationships with your coworkersIdentify the core differences between familial and work relationships.

Step-by-Step Guide for Setting Vocational Goals for Autistic Students

Setting vocational goals relies almost entirely on the age as well as the level of the individual you’re working with.

These steps will give you an overview of how to approach vocational goals for autism, but they’re far from comprehensive.

1. Identify Strengths, Weaknesses, and Limitations

The first and perhaps the most tricky step is to assess where your student is right now vs. where they need to be by the time they graduate.

This is tricky because there’s a lot more to an autistic individual’s strengths and weaknesses than what meets the eye.

For example, a child who is gifted with art may not necessarily thrive in a creative job because the motivation to create art has become external rather than a means of self-expression. 

So when you examine a student’s strengths, you have to put into consideration the limitations of these strengths to achieve longevity. 

The same goes for weaknesses. Just because they’re currently not comfortable dealing with strangers, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be excellent when dealing with customers after receiving adequate support and a clear-cut process for dealing with them.

You can learn more about vocational assessments here at A Day in Our Shoes.

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2. Discuss Values, Interests, and Future Goals

This step depends on whether your student is at the appropriate age and level to discuss abstract concepts such as values, compatibility, and aspirations. If not, then you’ll need to work your way there first.

Either way, you’ll need to consult with their family to choose the direction and priorities of your plan. Is post-graduation financial support a problem? Do they have a family business that can help them transition gradually to a completely new environment?

3. Create SMART Goals

It’s hard to go wrong with SMART goals because they break down an objective into its most comprehensible format. If you can’t seem to fulfill these criteria, then this objective may be counterproductive for your student.

  • Specific: As mentioned above, make sure that the goal and all the exercises surrounding it have as little room as possible for the need for personal interpretation and keep it narrow to avoid overwhelming them.
  • Measurable: Make your goal as quantifiable as possible. Create a small checklist of all the requirements for a given task to be considered a success. 
  • Attainable: Make sure each goal is a gradual progression from where your student’s life skills are at now. 
  • Relevant: Hone in on the most crucial skills before refining the details. For example, the ability to receive criticism is of secondary importance when your student isn’t yet able to receive instructions.
  • Time-bound: Finally, set the frequency with which you’ll be practicing and assessing this life skill so that you’ll build on your progress without pressuring your student beyond their capacity.

Vocational Goal Topics

  1. Career exploration: Assist the student in exploring various career options and identifying areas of interest and strength. This may include informational interviews, job shadowing, and career assessments.
  2. Vocational training: Provide the student with vocational training to develop specific skills required in a particular occupation or industry, such as welding, nursing, or graphic design.
  3. Internships and work-based learning: Facilitate opportunities for the student to participate in internships, work-based learning experiences, or apprenticeships to develop practical skills and gain work experience.
  4. Job readiness skills: Help the student develop job readiness skills such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, time management, and organizational skills.
  5. Job placement: Assist the student in finding and securing employment in a specific industry or occupation.
  6. Accommodations and supports: Identify and provide accommodations and supports to the student that will enable them to be successful in the workplace, such as assistive technology, job coaching, or specialized training.
  7. Career advancement: Support the student in developing a career plan that includes goals for career advancement, such as earning promotions, additional certifications or degrees, or transitioning to a different career.
  8. Self-advocacy: Help the student develop self-advocacy skills that will enable them to communicate effectively with employers and colleagues, request accommodations or modifications as needed, and navigate workplace challenges.

These are just a few examples of vocational goal topics that could be included in an IEP. The specific goals and objectives will depend on the student's individual needs, strengths, interests, and career aspirations.

job tasks: vocational goals

Vocational Goals Examples with Job Tasks

It is important to note that job tasks for special education students should be individualized to the student's strengths, interests, and abilities, and should be based on the goals outlined in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, here are some examples of job tasks that may be appropriate for special education students:

  1. Sorting and organizing materials: This may include sorting files, paperwork, or other materials in an office setting, or organizing inventory in a retail or warehouse setting.
  2. Cleaning and maintenance: This may include cleaning tables and surfaces, sweeping or mopping floors, or performing basic maintenance tasks such as changing light bulbs or restocking supplies.
  3. Assisting customers or clients: This may include greeting customers, answering basic questions, or providing basic customer service in a retail or service setting.
  4. Food preparation and service: This may include preparing simple meals or snacks, serving food to customers or clients, or cleaning up after meals.
  5. Data entry or basic computer tasks: This may include entering data into a computer system, typing up documents or reports, or performing other basic computer tasks.
  6. Packaging and assembly: This may include packaging products or components, assembling products or parts, or performing quality control checks on products.
  7. Landscaping or groundskeeping: This may include planting and maintaining gardens, mowing lawns, or performing other basic landscaping tasks.
  8. Basic office tasks: This may include answering phones, filing paperwork, or performing other basic tasks in an office setting.
  9. Personal information: This could include the ability to share personal information appropriately such as writing down name, address, phone number, emergency contact, etc.

Again, it is important to individualize job tasks for each special education student based on their needs and goals. These are just some examples of tasks that may be appropriate for some students.

Now I want to break these goals ideas down even farther so you can see the specific skill areas you can work towards.

Sorting and Organizing Materials

  1. Sort sizes of things
  2. Sort colors of things
  3. Fold laundry
  4. Hang Clothing
  5. Match items
  6. Sort files/paperwork
  7. Read labels and put things back where they belong
  8. knows how to put away dishes
  9. organize food items in a pantry/cupboard
sorting and organizing: vocational goals

Cleaning and Maintenance

  1. Wipe down the counter/table
  2. throwing away/sorting trash/recyclables
  3. Using a hammer or screwdriver for simple fixes
  4. Wash dishes
  5. wash and dry clothing
  6. Put away cleaning supples
  7. vaccumm
  8. mop or sweep the floor
  9. Clean up a spill on the floor
  10. Organizing and re-stocking the supply closet or pantry
cleaning tasks: vocational goals

Assisting Customers or Clients

  1. Answers the phone and can hold a conversation on the phone
  2. Can assist someone with using keyboard/typing to answer questions
  3. can redirect someone on the phone
  4. Can greet someone in person or on the phone
  5. Can answer specific questions about a specific topic (job task)
  6. Can answer specific questions about an item of interest or non interest

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Food Preparation and Service

  1. Fold napkins
  2. Put away silverware
  3. Put dishes away
  4. Cut up fruits and vegetables
  5. Cut up meat
  6. prepare a simple meal
  7. prepare a simple snack
  8. Understands food safety
  9. can use a microwave
  10. can use a toaster
  11. can use an oven
  12. Can get a glass of water
  13. can make a grocery list
  14. can make a grocery budget
  15. can put the foods away in refrigerator, freezer, or pantry

Data Entry or Basic Computer Tasks

  1. Navigate computer browser
  2. Understand how to use the internet
  3. enter data into the computer program
  4. use a computer mouse
  5. type on a keyboard
  6. write a word document
  7. use a google sheets or excel document
  8. Can type on personal information on a questionnaire

Packaging and Assembly

  1. assemble a package of things
  2. can follow directions of what to put together
  3. can look at a picture and put those items together
  4. can read instructions and follow the directions

Landscaping or Groundskeeping

  1. can mow the grass
  2. dig up flowers
  3. water flowers
  4. water grass
  5. plant flowers
  6. plant a garden
  7. pull weeds

Basic Office Tasks

  1. Use a computer mouse
  2. Type on the keyboard
  3. Write out a list of items
  4. Make a copy using the copier
  5. staple items together
  6. sort/organize papers
  7. sign papers
  8. write a check
  9. fill out a receipt

Personal Information

  1. Writes and types name
  2. writes and types address
  3. writes and types phone number
  4. knows who to contact in an emergency
  5. knows their own allergies and medications they are taking for safety
  6. can state their emergency contact name and phone number

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Soft Skills that can be Important for a Variety of Job Tasks

  1. Communication: The ability to communicate effectively, both verbally and in writing, with colleagues, customers, and supervisors is critical.
  2. Teamwork: Collaboration and the ability to work effectively with others is important in almost every workplace.
  3. Problem-solving: The ability to identify, analyze, and solve problems is essential in many job roles.
  4. Adaptability: Being able to adjust to changing circumstances and learn new skills and procedures is important in today's fast-paced work environments.
  5. Leadership: The ability to motivate, guide, and inspire others is valued in many organizations.
  6. Time management: Being able to prioritize tasks, meet deadlines, and manage time effectively is important in many job roles.
  7. Attention to detail: Being detail-oriented and able to spot errors or inconsistencies is important in jobs where accuracy is critical.
  8. Emotional intelligence: Understanding and managing one's own emotions, as well as recognizing and responding appropriately to the emotions of others, is important in any workplace.
  9. Positive attitude: Maintaining a positive outlook and being enthusiastic and motivated can help one succeed in any job.
  10. Conflict resolution: The ability to resolve conflicts or disagreements in a professional and constructive manner is important for maintaining positive relationships with colleagues and clients.

These are just a few examples of soft skills that are important for success in many different job roles. The specific skills required may vary depending on the industry, the job, and the organization.

vocational goals: filling out resume

Additional Specific Vocational Goals Examples

  1. Identify personal strengths
  2. Be able to answer a verbal question interview
  3. Be able to be on time
  4. Identify time on a daily schedule
  5. Identifies job schedule
  6. can ask for letters of reference
  7. can write a resume
  8. can identify reasonable places to work
  9. can identify preferences/interests
  10. can fill out a job application

These are just a few additional specific vocational goal examples for you to add to your toolbox.

Final Thoughts

As you gain more experience with setting vocational goals, you’ll get better at catering to the specific needs of each individual.

You should also set your expectations as well as those of your students and their families. Make sure to always include the student's input and needs first. Work with the student and the family together to come up with a plan to help them transition into adulthood.

Additional Life Skills Resources you Will Enjoy

The Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Examples and Templates to Save You Time

Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Autistic Individuals

vocational goals
Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Examples and Templates to Save You Time

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Examples and Templates to Save You Time

In this post you will learn about independent functioning IEP goals and how you can write them to save you time.

Independent living is one of the major outcomes of an IEP. So, preparing for it should ideally start from earlier education levels and working on these skills throughout their education.

That said, independent functioning IEP goals might look different for different students, depending on the student’s abilities, age, and what their caretakers are focused on. 

Working with the school district and the student’s guardians should help you choose what independent functioning skills to add to your IEP goals. So here are some examples with various goals to help you and save you time.

Templates for IEP Goals

If your school district doesn’t specify a template for IEP goals, it could get a bit challenging to find one that’s both versatile and all-encompassing. Here are a couple I found helpful that include most parameters you should include in your goal development:

  • By (insert date), given (number & type of) prompts, (the student) will (accomplish goal), in (number/percentage of) trials over (number of) consecutive (days, weeks, or months) as measured by (testing methodology).
  • Given (accommodations, prompts), (the student) will (accomplish goal) in (conditions, setting), (to what extent) by (a certain date) as evaluated by (evaluation methodology).
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Examples of Independent Functioning IEP Goals

The skills needed to live and function independently are widely varied and include many subcategories. For the sake of being thorough, I’ve divided them into goal clusters that should cover most bases and give you ideas to add more goals as you see fit.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Nutrition Goals

  1. Hold and use a utensil correctly.
  2. Put an appropriate bite of food on the utensil and eat it.
  3. Chew the food adequately with the mouth closed.
  4. Try new flavor combinations.
  5. Wait for the food to cool and take small bites.
  6. Identify different food courses and savory/sweet foods that go in each one.
  7. Clear the table at home and put used plates and utensils in the sink.
  8. Wash hands before and after eating.
  9. Pack away leftover food before refrigerating.
  10. Pass around food and utensils at large gatherings.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Hygiene and Grooming Goals

  1. Correctly identify body parts (by pointing at them).
  2. Identify tools for personal hygiene (hairbrush, toothbrush, soap, tap, bath, washcloth)
  3. Wash the face every morning.
  4. Brush teeth after every meal.
  5. Swish water or mouthwash without swallowing.
  6. Floss teeth (with regular floss or floss pick).
  7. Differentiate between hygiene products and household cleaning products.
  8. Use the bathtub to clean the body.
  9. Brush and style hair (curl, straighten, or use styling products)
  10. Apply deodorant thoroughly (roll-on or stick)
  11. Ask to use the restroom when needed and reply yes/no when asked.
  12. Follow a restroom use routine.
  13. Identify the correct restroom stall.
  14. Close the stall door.
  15. Adjust clothing before and after restroom use.
  16. Use toilet paper correctly.
  17. Flush the toilet correctly.
  18. Wash hands after using the toilet.

For more personal hygiene strategies, click here.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Dressing Goals

  1. Identify the correct orientation of clothing (front, back, inside, and out).
  2. Learn how to put on underwear (boxers, briefs, bras, and undershirts).
  3. Learn how to put different tops on and off (T-shirts, shirts, and jackets).
  4. Learn how different bottoms go on and off (jeans, pants, and sweatpants).
  5. Learn how different shoes are fastened (velcro, tie, and slip-on).
  6. Identify season-appropriate clothing and how to tell the weather outside.
  7. Identify the correct personal clothing and shoe size when shopping. 
  8. Learn about accessories.
  9. Loop belts through pants and buckle them.
  10. Choose handbags or purses.
  11. Pick out jewelry (earrings, rings, bracelets, and necklaces).
  12. Learn how to take off accessories and store them after wear.
  13. Dress oneself fully.
  14. Learn about dressing for an occasion (work, dinner, a casual get-together, etc.).
  15. Choose an outfit independently.
  16. Change into the correct outfit when it’s time to go out.

For more dressing strategies, click here.

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Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Safety Goals

  1. Identify edible and inedible items around the house.
  2. Identify choking hazards in edible foods.
  3. Identify hazardous items around the house (sharp knives, hot iron, etc.).
  4. Participate in fire, earthquake, and lockdown drills.
  5. Follow directions from authority figures during drills.
  6. Dial 911 during personal emergencies only.
  7. Identify community workers and what they respond to. 
  8. Learn how to describe an emergency to a responder.
  9. Locate the fire extinguisher and learn how to operate it.
  10. Locate the first aid kit and learn how to use every item.
  11. Operate a cell phone.
  12. Locate or dial emergency contact numbers on the cell phone.
  13. Learn about boundaries with strangers.
  14. Learn to search for a trusted figure in uncomfortable situations.
  15. Learn when to answer the door when home alone and when not to. 
  16. Learn how to avoid or clear dangerous materials like cleaning chemical spills or broken glass.
  17. Learn what to place inside a microwave oven and what not to.
  18. Learn about expiry dates and how to dispose of spoiled food.
  19. Learn what to do when you finish cooking (turn off the stove and open a window).
  20. Learn what to do before leaving the house (close windows, blow out candles, and lock doors)

For kitchen safety resources, click here.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Communication Goals

  1. Identify name, address, and social security number on written documents.
  2. Write name and address when needed.
  3. Identify different types of written documents, like bills, letters, etc.
  4. Use a computer for written tasks.
  5. Use a web browser to access the internet.
  6. Learn about internet safety and how to communicate with strangers on the internet.
  7. Operate a cell phone for phone calls.
  8. Use the internet to shop for items.
  9. Use the internet to pay bills.
  10. Use the features on a smartphone like texting and accessing the internet.

Independent Functioning IEP Goals: Miscellaneous Goals

  1. Identify different furniture for various uses around the house.
  2. Call a professional when something breaks around the house (a plumber for water leaks, an electrician for broken light fixtures, etc.).
  3. Care for houseplants.
  4. Care for a pet.
  5. Keep the house in order (cleaning, tidying up, and doing laundry).
  6. Operate small appliances in the kitchen (blender, hand mixer, microwave oven, etc.).
  7. Read labels to know what’s inside a container.
  8. Read price tags and labels to identify item prices.
  9. Use cash or a debit card to pay for purchased items.

Are You Looking for Additional Help and Strategies for Functional Life Skills?

Check out my new Functional Life Skills Toolkit. It includes step-by-step resources for task analysis and goal development for autistic children, teens, and young adults.

Other Functional Life Skills Resources for You

The Mega Bundle of Functional Life Skills Resources for Teens and Adults

The Best Functional Life Skills Resources for Individuals with Autism

Breaking Barriers: Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

Executive Functioning Challenges with Task Initiation: Resources to Help Teach Life Skills

independent functioning IEP goals
Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

Life Skill Goals for Teaching Independence

For autistic teenagers and young adults, learning life skills is crucial to achieving independence and living a fulfilling life. As parents, caregivers, and teachers you want to provide the best support, but finding the right resources can be overwhelming. This is where setting life skill goals comes in. 

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for further details.

Life Skill Goals and Why You Should Set Them

Life skill goals are measurable objectives that help your autistic teenager or young adult gain independence and confidence. An area to start with is with activities of daily living skills and instrumental activities of daily living skills. Instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) are things you do every day to take care of yourself and your home. They are one way to measure how well you can live on your own. While activities of daily living (ADLs) are basic self-care tasks like showering and personal hygiene skills. IADLs require more complex planning and thinking. This could include meal preparation, and money management skills. By using smart strategies, you can use ADLs and IADLs to help you develop achievable life skill goals for your loved one. 

Practical Strategies to Help Autistic Teens and Young Adults

Here are some strengths-based and neurodiversity-affirming resources that can help you support your autistic teenager or young adult in achieving their life skill goals. 

  • Use Visual Aids and Social Stories: Autistic people often learn best through visual aids and engaging stories to help them process complex concepts. You can use pictures, diagrams, or written instructions that will help them learn and remember tasks. 
  • Break Down Tasks Into Steps: Smaller tasks are easier for your loved one to manage. For example, if you want to teach them how to brush their teeth, start by explaining how to pick out a toothbrush, put the toothpaste on, wet the brush, and so on. 
  • Encourage Independence: It’s vital to encourage your loved one to do tasks on their own as much as possible. This helps them gain a sense of accomplishment and build confidence at the same time. 
  • Focus on Strengths Rather Than Weaknesses: Everyone has unique interests, drives, and strengths. When setting life skill goals, focus on your loved one’s strong points to keep them engaged and motivated. 
  • Don’t Stop Until You Establish a Routine: Repetition is key to learning new skills, especially for those on the spectrum. Make sure to practice life skills regularly, and provide feedback along the way. Positive reinforcement is a charm, so motivate your loved one as they develop their routine.

8 Life Skill Goals to Help your Teenager Learn

With life skill goals, you give agency to your teenager to focus on areas most important to them and, by doing so, develop their independence and self-reliance. These life skills include:

1. People Skills

Help your teenager learn how to make friends, ask for help, hold a conversation, work in groups, and be a part of a community. 

2. Self-Advocacy 

Teach your child how to take care of their needs by integrating social skills and setting boundaries. Remember to help your teenager learn how to ask questions, who to ask them to, and when to say no. 

3. Personal Safety

Protect your child’s safety by teaching them how to avoid risky situations, be aware of stranger danger, and, if something bad happens, how to call 911. Focus on red flags and how your child can identify them to keep a safe distance.

Get the Free Life Skills Curriculum Year-at-a-Glance Plan

CLICK HERE or on the image below to get the FREE life skills year-at-a-glance plan to help you save time and be organized with teaching life skills each month!

Life Skills Curriculum Year at a Glance Planner

4. Self-Care

Help your teenager understand the importance of taking care of themselves by highlighting hygiene, nutrition, physical activity, and more. You can do so by using personal hygiene self-care tasks that will make the process easier.

5. Daily Living Skills

Aid your teenager or young adult with shopping, cooking meals, using public transport, or doing chores until they assert a level of independence. Make sure to provide visual aids, verbal prompts, and other strategies for the process.

6. Executive Functioning Skills

Help your teen stay organized by teaching them how to manage their time and set a routine. Remember to be patient and use practical techniques for task initiation, or you could overwhelm them.

7. Job Skills

Guide your teen on their self-discovery by explaining the importance of self-reliance. Help them find jobs that match their strengths, teach them about volunteering, or contact local businesses that showcase interesting programs.

8. Emotional Management

Help your teen identify, understand and work through their emotions by using affirmations, open-heart discussions, and journaling. You can also use a Free Calm Down Strategies toolkit when things get too intense.  

One of the most convenient strategies to organize your child’s life skill goals is to use a checklist. The resources offered on Learning for a Purpose cover a range of areas, including communication, self-care, social skills, and daily living skills. 

You can also get a Free Life Skills Checklist that will help you understand what your autistic teenager needs to learn on their way.

life skills checklist
Click the image of the life skills checklist to be able to download your own copy.

Keeping Track of Your Child’s Life Skill Goals

When you work with a teenager or young adult, it can be hard to measure their progress.

You can use this framework to help measure progress on their life skill goals by involving four key components:

  1. The specific behavior or skill to be achieved
  2. The conditions under which the behavior or skill will be demonstrated
  3. The criteria for measuring the success rate
  4. The timeframe for achieving this goal

For example, a life skill goal using this formula might be “Anna will improve her personal hygiene skills by washing her hands before she eats and after using the restroom. She will do this with minimal verbal cues with 100% accuracy, by the end of the school year.” This goal is specific, measurable, achievable, and, most importantly, time-conscious. 

While monitoring Anna’s progress towards this life skill goal, parents or caregivers can help her develop the personal hygiene care skills she needs. If Anna doesn’t show enough progress, her parents or caregivers can jump right in and adjust interventions as needed. This will ensure that Anna is receiving the support she needs to achieve her full potential so that real progress can be made.

Think about Daily Life Skill Goals They will Need

It is important to think about the daily tasks that the individual will need to complete in order to live independently. This will help daily living skills goals and daily living skill interventions be tailored specifically to the needs of the teen.

Daily living skills goals and objectives are important for teenagers to achieve independence in their daily lives. By setting realistic goals and objectives, teachers and therapists can help them work towards independence in daily living skills.

Areas of need and areas of strength should be considered when setting daily living skills goals and objectives. Additionally, it is important to think about what daily life will look like for the individual and develop goals and objectives that reflect their needs.

Occupational Therapists can Help Develop Life Skill Goals

Occupational therapists are experts in daily living skills who can help set daily living goals, individualized daily living skills teaching, and guide daily living skill interventions. They are part of related services listed on the child’s IEP. Occupational therapists are trained to teach daily living skills to students with special needs using methods that are engaging for the student. If you are looking for more help with this area reach out to your pediatrician, school, or local occupational therapist to help you.

Helping Youth With Compassion, Guidance and Support

No matter how dedicated you are to your teenagers development, the process can be long, gruesome, and overwhelming. But, with the assistance of specialized support platforms, you can feel calm and confident in knowing you’re providing the best care for your teen. 

Learning for a Purpose has all the resources that will ease your burden, along with free checklists and planning guides. Save time by having everything drawn out for you, and support your teenager’s independence with all the life skill goals they need.

Life skill goals: Helping you teach independence
Help Teach Toothbrushing with Task Analysis to Break the Steps Down

Help Teach Toothbrushing with Task Analysis to Break the Steps Down

Learn how to get your free toothbrushing task analysis to help teach the skill of brushing teeth.

Toothbrushing is an important part of maintaining good oral hygiene and overall health.

Toothbrushing can be an overwhelming and hard skill to learn especially if they have sensory issues with brushing teeth.

Breaking the skill down and finding appropriate sensory strategies can help.

What is Task Analysis

Task Analysis is a systematic approach used to break down a task into smaller, more manageable components. This can help to define the sequence of steps needed to complete the task, and identify any potential problems or risks associated with the task. It can also be used to identify any skills or knowledge required to complete the task. Task Analysis can be used in a range of fields including education, engineering, psychology, and business.

How Can you use Task Analysis to Teach Toothbrushing?

Task analysis is a great way to teach any complex skill, including tooth brushing. First, break the task down into its component parts. For tooth brushing, this might include picking out a toothbrush, putting toothpaste on the brush, wetting the brush, brushing each quadrant of the mouth, etc. Then, provide a step-by-step demonstration of each part of the task. After the demonstration, have your student practice each step, giving gentle reminders and feedback as needed. Lastly, have your student practice the full task of brushing their teeth, with you providing encouragement and feedback. This process can be repeated as needed until your student has mastered the skill.

A Simple Toothbrushing Task Analysis Example

To help you understand the toothbrushing task, I will provide a step-by-step analysis.

  1. Gather your toothbrush and toothpaste.
  2. Wet your toothbrush and put a pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the bristles.
  3. Start brushing at the gum line using a gentle circular motion.
  4. Brush the outer and inner surfaces of the teeth.
  5. Don’t forget to brush the chewing surface of your teeth.
  6. To clean the inside of your front teeth, tilt the brush vertically and make several gentle up-and-down strokes.
  7. Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.
  8. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash.
  9. Spit out the water or mouthwash and store your toothbrush in a clean, dry place.

Get your Free Toothbrushing Task Analysis Checklist

In less than 5 minutes you can get your free toothbrushing task analysis already written out for you in a step by step process to save you time and to teach the skill of brushing teeth.

Toothbrushing task analysis freebie

Helpful Strategies for Toothbrushing

Toothbrushing can sometimes be an overwhelming experience for some individuals, so it can be helpful to incorporate some sensory strategies to make the process easier. Here are some ideas to make toothbrushing more enjoyable and effective:

  1. Use a timer. Setting a timer for two minutes can help them know when the toothbrushing session is over. 
  2. Provide a variety of toothbrushes. Offering different textures, shapes, and sizes of toothbrushes can make the experience more exciting and fun.
  3. Use musical brushing. Playing music while brushing can help them focus on the task and even encourage them to brush longer. 
  4. Watch a video or use a toothbrushing app to distract or make it more interactive.
  5. Use flavored toothpaste. Toothpaste with interesting flavors, such as bubble gum or fruity flavors, can make brushing more enjoyable. 

Check out these Fun Flavored Toothpastes

Chocolate Ice Cream flavored toothpaste

Vanilla Ice Cream flavored toothpaste

Orange Ooh La La Flavored Toothpaste

Other Awesome Personal Hygiene Resources

Toothbrushing and Flossing Toolkit to help you teach toothbrushing and flossing with step by step instructions, visual sequencing, and data collection.

Teach Taking a Shower and Bathing to Autistic Teenagers

Get your Free Toothbrushing Task Analysis Checklist

In less than 5 minutes you can get your free toothbrushing task analysis already written out for you in a step by step process to save you time and to teach the skill of brushing teeth.

Toothbrushing task analysis freebie