Life skills for people with autism involves providing training that helps autistic people deal with the demands of daily life. The training often involves a combination of therapies, medication and services that help people with autism function with as much independence as possible.
About Life Skills for People With Autism
People with autism have different levels of impairment, which can range from mild symptoms to a severe disability. The amount of life skills training required will vary based upon the affected individual's needs. Generally, most people with autism will require some degree of therapy to address language, communication and social interaction issues in order to have an easier transition into mainstream society.
Necessary Life Skills
Certain life skills are necessary for daily living. Depending upon the level of impairment, a person with autism may need life skills assistance in the following areas:
- Speech and language help
- Communication and social skills training
- How to follow directions
- Potty training
- Dressing independently
- Cooking and housekeeping skills for independent living
- Job training
Types of Life Skills Training
Each autism treatment plan is tailored to an individual's specific needs. Many treatment plans include a combination of therapies that improve or teach life skills. The following autism treatments provide life skills training:
- Speech Therapy: Speech therapy can increase limited speech and problems with language concepts or pronunciation. A person can learn functional words and phrases to communicate and to engage in a two-way conversation. A speech therapist can teach a nonverbal person how to communicate through gestures, a Picture Exchange Card System (PECS) or through an electronic communication device.
- Social Stories: Social Stories teach a person with autism about other's emotions and appropriate emotional and social responses in the form of a story.
- Behavioral Therapy: Behavioral therapy can lessen or eliminate an undesired behavior that gets in the way of daily living.
- Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy provides training to help a person learn how to function independently in their living environment. The therapy can teach concepts such as independent dressing and potty training.
- Sensory Integration Therapy: If a person has any sensory issues, sensory integration therapy can improve symptoms and sensory responses.
- Educational Support: Therapists and teachers will also provide educational support to find the best ways to help an autistic student learn.
- Independent Living Training: Independent living programs can help a person with autism become more independent before going away to college or moving into an apartment.
- Vocational Training: Vocational programs provide assistance to help a person with autism find the right job and the right training to succeed at the job.
Online Resources for Life Skills Training
A number of online resources deal with life skills for people with autism. The following websites provide helpful information about life skills:
- Cindy's Autistic Support: Cindy's Autistic Support website has a number of resources for teaching life skills to people with autism.
- Autism Awareness Centre: The Autism Awareness Centre website has a number of helpful articles about life skills and stories of autistic people who live independently.
- Kennedy Krieger Institute: The Kennedy Krieger Institute's Lifeskills and Education for Students with Autism and Other Pervasive Behavioral Challenges (LEAP) teaches life skills to children with severe cases of autism with behavioral problems.
- Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center: The Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center has a vocational training program for autistic people ages 13 and up.
- Education: The Education site provides advice from the Autism Society of America article about autism and life skills.
The right treatment and training options can significantly improve life skills for people with autism. People with autism are responding to the many excellent modern autism treatment options and experiencing improvements in life skills. With the right treatment, independent living is possible for many people with autism.