"Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood."
Daily living skills have been noted as the key to independence for people with autism. The central skills of adulthood have little to do with intelligence. Any inability to care for self drastically reduces the proficiency of self-support, regardless of intellectual functioning, Living a day with increased independence, decreased reliance, and the abilities to perform life’s everyday tasks, though, begins with the ability to care for self. The core deficits associated with ASD are directly associated with impairments in adaptive functioning (American Psychiatric Association, 1994). Adaptive functioning is defined as the development and application of abilities required for gaining personal independence and social sufficiency. Compelling reasons to assess adaptive functioning in individuals with ASD have revealed significant practical information. As shown, adaptive behavior is good indicator of an individual’s level of functioning and independence.
Purposeful, efficient use of life skills will be the focal area of study for utilization of meaningful everyday tasks and self-help skills. Such tasks do not come naturally to individuals with ASD. Successful development of life skills and self-help skills will be incorporated with specific focus on: functional use of communication, safety, making lists, related components of social participation, self-regulation, sensory management, control of stress and anxiety, identification of personal strengths to develop new skills, emotional/sensory preparation, navigation of public areas, time-management and organization.
Life skills, in general, comprehensively represent all Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s). Components of self-care to usefully/socially communicate, self-regulate emotions/anxiety, manage sensory information, strategize, organize, and manage time are necessary to successfully perform ADL’s with any degree of independence. Basic living skills include: personal hygiene, choose clothes/dress self, launder of clothes, cleaning, preparation of food, taking medicine, navigating public areas, shopping, making healthy choices, exercise, paying bills, manage/budget money, sensory processing, self-advocacy, making and keeping friends, social regulation, pursuit of interests, obtaining further education with vocational training or post-secondary school, earning a living, independence. Quite a list!
These functional practices broaden to fully care for self. Expectations for individuals to think, communicate, solve problems, and complete tasks must be commonplace in domestic and educational environments beginning at an early age. The chief component of expectations, unfortunately, are absent in countless households and classrooms. Transition periods and service/supports, if available, come to an end. Individuals with ASD commonly become adults who are unable to care for themselves, absent of effective and efficient means to independently perform these principal skills of daily life in an independent manner. Our goal is give the participants instruction, repetition, and hands-on practice with the needed resources to perform life and self-help skills with highest possible degree of independence.