Learn about different autism life skills you can teach help them improve their quality of life and teaching strategies for life skills.
I am not misbehaving, I do not know how to act in social situations. I do not understand how to read body language or how to ask for help. I don't know how to hold a conversation with my peers. I may look like I am not paying attention, but I am listening. I may not understand how to be okay with change in different situations.
I may get taken advantage of because I don't know how to advocate for myself. I don't know who to trust or how to ask for help. I also don't know how to say no to people. I may get myself into trouble, because I don't know how to evaluate a situation to understand if this is risky. I have a hard time understanding if this might be an unsafe situation for me to be in.
I am not lazy, I may not understand how to care for myself. I may need help with managing my money, how to cook a meal, taking care of myself, going to the store to buy things I need, or how to use transportation to get around. I can have a hard time figuring out how to manage my day and how to manage my time.
I want to figure out how to organize my day, but I don't know how to plan out my day. I don't know how to create a “to do” list or how to plan ahead for changes within my day. If my schedule changes, I can become frustrated and not know how to deal with this.
I want to have a job doing something I like, but I don't know how to find a job or how to be a good employee. I don't know how to talk with my co-workers.
Sometimes I can get so anxious that this keeps me from going outside of my house or trying something new. I don't know how to deal with these overwhelming feelings of anxiety and fearfulness.
Are these questions that you can hear your teen telling you? Do you know how to help your teen learn these everyday life skills?
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* On this site I am working on using language that represents the autistic community and what I have learned is that they prefer to use the term autistic instead of person with autism. I am working on making those changes on the site and there may be differences based on what I have been able to update.
Autism Life Skills
Life is a journey for all of us and we all go down different paths. As a parent, we want what is best for our child. We each have a different meaning of success for our child and what their adult life may look like.
Every day is an ongoing process for us to build our own skills to become the person that we want to become. We all have skills that we are really good at and skills that we need help with. Some may always need support in certain areas of their lives.
The more we can think out the future for our teen, the sooner we can start to work on building their strengths and weaknesses. Hopefully, we will have a better idea of where they might be in 5 years to meet their individual levels of success.
Get Your Free Autism Life Skills Checklist!
We have created a FREE Autism Life Skills Checklist for you! Click Here to be able to download the FREE Autism Life Skills Checklist for Teens Transitioning Into Adulthood.
This would also be the area of social skills. These skills would be things like making friends, asking for help, working in a group, communicating in person or online, holding a conversation with someone, or talking with family members. These are just a few of the social skills we may use every day in our lives. Social skills is such a broad topic and can be very overwhelming to think about how you may go about teaching all of these skills to someone. Social skills can be taught in a variety of ways through social stories, social scripts, practice out in the community, through social groups, acting classes, or through books. Check out your local community to see what resources they may offer for you. Sometimes finding a peer or a mentor for your child to talk through and practice through some of the different scenarios can be helpful as well.
Self Advocacy Skills
Teaching teens how to get their needs met is such an important skill to learn. Do they understand how to ask for help, who to go to for help, how to ask questions, how to say no, or when to give their own opinion? These skills are vital for your teen to learn to be able to get their own needs met.
Keeping your teen safe is a huge priority! Nothing scares me more than seeing kids being taken advantage of because they can't defend themselves. Do they know how to call 911 in an emergency, how to avoid risky situations, how to tell someone no, or understanding when they are in a bad situation? Do they know who they can trust and who is a stranger? There are so many dangerous situations that sometimes we don't realize are dangerous until they happen. Talk with your teen when they are going into new situations to help them be aware of some potentially risky situations. Talk through what to look for and how to assess their environment in unsafe situations. Teach them red flags to help keep them safe.
How to Care for Myself
These would be personal care skills such as daily hygiene, dressing, nutrition, exercise, or coping with stress. Can they complete the basic everyday life skills to be able to care for themselves independently?
Check out our ebook Everyday Life Skills Personal Hygiene Skills for the Bathroom to help you teach your teen personal hygiene skills. Break down the steps to complete each skill to help your teen. Create checklists, visual sequencing cards, or use verbal directions until your teen can find strategies that help them learn the skill. How to Teach Teenagers with Autism Personal Hygiene Self-Care Tasks.
Does your child or teen struggle with personal hygiene skills due to sensory challenges? Check out our free Personal Hygiene Sensory Strategies Toolkit for help!
Check out these resources for personal care skills:
Everyday Life Skills
Practical everyday skills could include cooking meals, shopping, budgeting money, using transportation, home care tasks such as cleaning, laundry, or doing the dishes. If they were living in an apartment or home would they understand how to care for their home to keep it clean and safe? Would they be able to make meals for themselves and safely prepare food? Include your teen in these activities every day to help them practice and understand this routine. Provide them with visual supports such as checklists or visual sequencing cards. They may need verbal prompts as well. Check out your local community to see if they offer classes to help with some of these skills.
Executive Functioning Skills
These are skills that help us organize our day. They help us understand how to manage our time and what our routine will be for the day. They are skills that help us plan for our day with understanding our “to do” list, plan ahead for changes in our day, or how to analyze a situation. These are higher-level problem-solving skills to help us make decisions each day.
How will your teen learn to support themselves? Will they be getting a job? How do you help them find a job, create a resume, or gain work experience? Help your teen think about jobs they may like to do or have good strong skills to complete. What are their strengths? Would they do better working on their own or with people? Helping them find a job with their strengths with helping them better succeed at the job. One way to find job opportunities is through volunteer work. Seek out potential jobs that your teen may be good at is contacting local businesses. You could try contacting local sports programs, libraries, grocery stores, churches, or community programs to see if they offer any volunteer opportunities that would be of interest to your teen. Also, do some research for community services in your area to see if they offer job coaches or vocational supports for your teen.
How to Manage my Emotions
Our emotions can make a big difference for us during our day. We can start our day feeling happy or we can feel sad. If we can't understand how to manage our emotions we will have a hard time getting the things we need to get done. If our fear and anxiety get too big, we may not be able to go out into the community. Help your teen through their emotions by using affirmations, building upon their strengths, journaling, talking to them, letting them share how they are feeling with you, or finding calming strategies for them. You can help them learn to identify and recognize their emotions with these real life photo posters and flashcards activity pack.
Check out our Free Calm Down Strategies Toolkit for more tips and resources for calming strategies.
We have created a FREE Life Skills Checklist for you! Click Here to be able to download the FREE Life Skills Checklist for Teens Transitioning Into Adulthood.
Related: Other Helpful Life Skills Resources
Teaching Life Skills
Check out the links below for additional help and resources for teaching various life skills.
Disclaimer: Sara Anderson is a pediatric occupational therapist. The advice in these tips is not to replace medical advice from a physician or your pediatrician. Please consult their advice if you suspect any medical or developmental issues with your child, teen, or adult. These tips do not replace the relationship between therapist and client in a one on one treatment session with an individualized treatment plan based on their professional evaluation.
All activities are designed for complete adult supervision. Please use your own judgment when completing these activities with your child or teen. Learning For a Purpose is not liable for any injury when replicating any of the activities found on this blog.