Task boxes for autistic children compartmentalize each activity, which can make them easier to complete. There are many benefits to task boxes and they are easily found if you know where to look.
What Is a Task Box
The boxes are quite simple; they are compartments that contain materials for a certain activity. The activities are typically short and structured, and they may offer a nice blend of familiarity and challenge. Any activity that fits in the compartment may be used as part of a child's curriculum, or in therapy at home.
You may have seen stations in an autism support classroom that contain boxes holding different activities. The children may have specific activities on their daily schedules in the classroom setting. This type of activity can be completed during home therapy sessions as well.
Benefits of Activity Boxes
The convenient packaging offers much more than organization for the child working on the activity. Benefits for using task boxes for autistic children are great.
- They have a definite beginning, middle and end.
- The tasks appeal to the desire for routine and order.
- Activities address various skills.
- They make it easier to attend to the task without distraction.
- They encourage independence, as the child takes the task out of the box, completes it, and puts it away with minimal or no guidance.
- The activities can be catered to the child's treatment plan.
- They serve as excellent sequencing activities.
- The boxes are visual, and the single-unit presentation is easy to understand.
- The activities address sensory issues, as the child manipulates objects.
- They break down activities into small steps, which is an important aspect of applied behavioral analysis (ABA).
Finding Task Boxes for Autistic Children
You can buy ready-made activity boxes, but you can easily assemble activities yourself. Working with your child's treatment team is a great way to ensure that you select items that are appropriate. Some things to consider are:
- Treatment plan goals
- Individual Education Plan (IEP)
- Deficits and needs
- Strengths and interests
Buying Task Boxes
Professional-grade task boxes are available for families, schools and agencies to purchase. The benefits of buying the activities for autistic children include convenience, and the adherence to a specific curriculum. The following are two companies that offer products designed to meet certain goals, and are backed by the TEACCH program.
Offered by the company Centering on Children, Shoebox Tasks was developed by Ron Larson, who has experience as a TEACCH program autism therapist, and they follow a basic curriculum. Centering on Children has continued to expand activities so that they gradually become more challenging.
You can opt to buy the Basic Curriculum, which contains 16 activities and instructions. Activities in these boxes help develop valuable fine motor skills, following directions, sequencing, matching and sorting. The complete set can be expanded with additional activities after the child masters tasks.
Hands on Tasks & Ideas has a series of task boxes for autistic children organized into two categories: basic skills and vocational skills. These products are ideal for schools and agencies, but they may be too expensive for the average family.
Creating Activity Boxes
Building your own activity boxes can be easy, with the help of your child's treatment team. Begin by developing a list of goals, and follow up with a plan of action that includes specific interventions that will help your child meet those goals. Fill the boxes with activities that help develop the skills your child needs to develop and fill others with fun tasks that your child enjoys.
Examples of activities for autistic children include:
- Buttoning, snapping and zipping
- Sensory bins
- Following directions
- Coloring and drawing
- Beading strings
- Building blocks
- Letter and number tasks
- Object labeling
The beauty of developing this type of activity is the many options you have available. Activities can include simple "put with same" directions, and they can be much more complex, depending on your child's level of ability.
Ask About Tasks
Whether you plan to create or purchase them, it is a good idea to introduce the idea of using task boxes to your child's treatment team. Developing activities that help your child reach goals while enjoying the comfort of consistency can be very rewarding.
Other resources you may want to consider are: