Saturday, 5 July 2014

Working myself out of a job

It seems today that so many children are raised with their parents doing everything for them.  When my children arrived at college they were shocked to learn that their roommates do not know how to cook a meal, wash their clothing, make an appointment, etc.  Some of their friends even had their parents doing their college assignments for them.  I feel as parents,  it is our job to teach children these skills and many more.  When parenting any child I feel we are doing them a disservice if we don't start teaching them these skills as early as possible.  With children with special needs it may take a very very long time for these skills to be mastered so we need time on our side, so start early.  The more that a child is able to do the less you have to do for them as an adult.  This may be the difference for an individual with special needs being fully dependent to semi independent.

Start teaching life skills, as early as possible, as it takes longer for individuals with special needs to master skills.  Young children have a desire to do what the adults in their lives are doing so take advantage of that. In our family we do not "hold" the children back if they haven't mastered one skill but want to try another. If the skill they are wanting to try is to difficult then we break it down to smaller parts. For example we have a few that are not able to dress themselves however they are able to sort their dirty laundry.  Some aren't able to bath themselves but do wash "some" dishes. By attempting these different life skills the child is building new strengths that will hopefully help in mastering the deficits in their other skills.  I feel learning these skills are like "practical" therapy that will bring our children further in life.

 We have laundry baskets for dark and light colored clothing just outside of the bedrooms and have the children put their dirty clothing in the baskets.  Our 2 year old is able to put his clothing in the basket, he doesn't sort but has mastered putting his dirty clothing in the basket (and then pulling it out and doing it over and over because it is fun to him).  Building his coordination and strength. As the children get older they are able to sort their laundry between dark and light. Color recognition  When they show an interest (want to help) in using the washing machines and dryers we encourage that.  Have them put the clothing in or take it out.Gross motor/heavy work.  Show them how to turn the machine on.  We have a chart on our machine with step by step directions how to turn on the machine.  We have put color coded stickers on the machine so they can independently turn on the machine.  following directions, color matching, fine motor skills.  

When it comes to washing dishes we fill up 2 sinks and only work on dishes that are safe for them to handle.  They will wash the dishes and then pass them to us to "rinse/re wash".  While working on this we are labeling items and chatting.  fine motor skills, speech, sensory.  Putting cutlery away is similar in concept to a shape sorter which works great and is practical for an older child.  At meal times we teach them how to set the table and encourage them to clear their own dishes.  We have a picture of a place setting that the children will take from spot to spot at the table and then lay out the cutlery.  fine motor, matching

As with all activities, you need to ensure what you are having your child do, is safe for their abilities but encourage your child to help and learn new skills.   Spend the time now "working yourself out a job"  it will be more work for you teaching them but in the long run your child will be better off.

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