“Are there any parenting tips to help make my child more independent? How can I help my child do day-to-day tasks without my direct help?”
These questions are not uncommon for parents, especially parents of children with autism. Ideally, parents want their child to be able to do tasks consistently and without constant reminder. So how can you make this possible?
- Make the task as simple as possible: Is the task easy? Are the items needed for the task easily accessible?
- Decrease the amount of effort needed to complete the task: Is the task extensive? Could you do anything to make the task easier for your child to complete?
Let’s say the day-to-day task that you want your child to do independently is brushing her teeth. And right now, there is a stepping stool that she needs to access the medicine cabinet where her toothpaste is located. She has to move the stepping stool in front of the sink every time. Then, she has to reach up and grab the toothpaste to put it on her toothbrush and so on.
So what if you permanently keep the stepping stool in front of the sink so she doesn’t have to move it each time? What if you keep the toothpaste on the counter right by her toothbrush so she doesn’t have to reach for it?
Changing the physical location of the items that your daughter needs to access to complete the task will make it easier for her.
“What if moving the items still does not help your child do the tasks independently?”
Try positive reinforcement! Think to yourself, does your daughter get anything in return for brushing her teeth independently? If she is not completely the task independently and decreasing the difficulty of the task did not work, perhaps you need to reconsider the ‘reward’ she receives for brushing her teeth by herself. Find a reward that motivates her. Will she respond best to a verbal praise? Do you need to reward her with her favorite toy or activity? Finding a positive reinforcement will increase the likelihood of her completing the task independently.
Positive reinforcement is one of the many tactics of ABA therapy. This is one of many strategies utilized by SEED Center employees.