One of the first things that I learned as an autism parent is that I should be teaching my son to be independent. The reason for this is because the more that I did for him, it would be harder to teach him how to do things for himself later. I felt overwhelmed by all the things that I had to teach him to do.
When he was younger, the morning routine was stressful. I remember dreading waking him in the morning to start the process. I had to get him up, feed him, get him dressed, teeth brushed and put his shoes on before we could get out the door.
I decided to work on one thing for him to do independently. At first it was putting on his socks. I would help him do everything else, but I made sure that we had extra time allotted for socks training.
For the first week of socks training, I showed him how I put my socks on. Then I opened his socks and using my hands over his helped him pull his socks on. There were many mornings that he didn’t want to do this but I knew that this was the one thing that I was working on with him. I didn’t place any other expectations on myself or him for the morning.
Once he got used to that and I could feel him grasping the socks on his own, I moved on to the next step. I opened the sock and put it at his toes so he just had to pull them up his feet. Over time he put his socks on by himself without even thinking about it because he had gotten into the routine of doing it.
That lead to a greater life…
Then we moved onto the next little thing that he needed to do which was to put on his shoes by himself. You get the idea…
Here’s what you do:
1. Identify one thing in your child’s morning routine that you would like to work on.
2. Model how to do what you want your child to do. You will need to do this more than once.
3. Allow plenty of extra time and show your child how to do it himself. You may have to do the “hand over hand” technique for a while. Remind yourself that this is just training, your child will learn this. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself or your child.
4. Once you feel your child is starting to do what you have taught him, try to lessen the amount of help you give. When your child has mastered that step, then go back to step #2 and teach the next thing that you want him to do.
5. You will cover all the steps in the process and your child will be able to get out the door with less assistance from you.
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