Teaching Independence for Children with Special Needs

Visual Cues Labeling: Dishwasher
Situation: 

I’ve tried teaching my son how to empty dishwasher. He does a good job when I talk him through it, but if I’m not standing right there, he just piles everything on the counter or puts stuff in the wrong place. I’m not sure if he is just being lazy or if he really doesn’t understand the task. How can I help him be more independent and accurate?

Visual Cues Labeling: Laundry
Situation: 

Whenever I bring a basket full of clean clothes into my son’s room and ask him to put his clothes away, he begins to yell “I can’t do this.” How can I help my son to better understand the chore and do it independently?

Strategies for Receptive Language Challenges
Situation: 

My son has issues with receptive speech. When I tell him something, like this morning I was trying to tell him we would have cheerios for breakfast and eggs for lunch, all he could hear was he wasn’t getting cheerios right now. I kept repeating “we will have cheerios and then eggs after” but he still was not hearing me and continued to cry and scream. I then put him on the table at eye-level and validated him by saying “I will get you cheerios” but I couldn’t explain to him that we would have eggs after. My son will be 4 in May and this is probably the most frustrating thing we deal with on a daily basis…

Teaching Children Home & School Routines
Situation: 

The Watson Institute has received a number of questions from parents searching for resources to teach their child how to complete various tasks with greater independence or how to set routines for their child. For example, one parent noted that her daughter had difficulty staying focused while getting ready for bed in the evenings. She was looking for a resource to help her stay focused and be more independent. Another parent asked about teaching their son to brush his teeth before bedtime and incorporate that into his daily morning and evening routines.

We’ve also heard from educators looking for ways to support their students with exceptionalities who may have difficulty following along during activities or particular classes.

Adaptive Feeding Equipment
Situation: 

What types of adaptive feeding equipment would allow my child to gain greater independence with her self-feeding skills?

Toilet Training: How to Start
Situation: 

I teach students with a variety of disabilities including autism from ages 7 through 10. Some of my students are toilet trained and some are not, but I think a couple of the kids are ready to start training. How do I know if they are ready for a toilet training program?

Center Engagement for Students with Challenges
Situation: 

I have some students in my classroom who have autism and other diagnosed disabilities. Two of my students are non-verbal and have difficulty staying with the centers I have for other students. In addition they are non-readers. What kind of centers can I have? They can match and we do many relevant life skill activities but I don’t know what to have for centers.

Toilet Training: Habit Training
Situation: 

I don’t think my students are ready to be toilet trained but I’d like to begin the process. Which students might be appropriate and when do you begin to try?

School Store Social Skills
Situation: 

The students in my Life Skills class need more practice with social skills, but they always seem to clam up in those unstructured times like lunch and in between classes.  Is there something I can do to help them have more opportunities to interact?

“Look Again” Positive Ways to Provide Corrections to School Work
Situation: 

Several students in my Learning Support class become very upset when I make corrections on their papers.  I’ve tried calling them up to my desk for a private review of their errors, and they still cry, protest, or shut down.  How can I get them to fix their mistakes without the negative reactions?