Are you thinking about teaching your child diagnosed with autism a new skill? Maybe how to brush her teeth, comb her hair, or to tie her shoes? If so, here is a simple way of breaking down the skill to ensure that she learns what is expected of her and to make sure that she is successful.
Some examples of common skills you may want to teach include:
- brushing teeth
- washing /drying hands
- brushing hair
- tying shoes
- washing face
Step 1: Determine what skill(s) you want to teach your child
The first question you should ask yourself is “What skills will be functionally necessary and age appropriate for my child?” Is it important to you that your 3-year old knows how to tie her shoes? Is that an age appropriate skill? To determine and to sequence the skills properly, you should start with making sure that your child has mastered all the basic functional skills first – for example, it is probably more important that she knows how to wash her hands before learning how to tie her shoes.
Step 2: Determine what skills your child currently has in her behavioral repertoire
Once you have determined what skill(s) you want to teach her, then you need to ask yourself, “What is in her behavioral repertoire (what can she do already)? What does she need help with?” This step is important because you don’t want to waste her time teaching her something she already knows how to do. Instead, you should focus your time working on the skills that she is having difficulty with or teaching her new skills.
Step 3: Develop a Task Analysis and break down the skill
After you have identified the skill(s) you want to teach, you will need to develop a task analysis. A task analysis is a comprehensive way of breaking down a skill into smaller components or steps. It is how we teach skills to children on the spectrum when they need help completing a task. The target skills can range from learning how to play with a specific toy (manipulating the item), using a utensil at meal time, to even riding a bike.
How to develop a task analysis:
The first step in the process is for you to actually go through the skill that you want to teach yourself, observe someone else performing the task, and finally, writing up the task analysis, breaking down the task into individual, necessary components.
Example of a Task Analysis: Wash/Dry Hands
- Turn on water
- Wet hands
- Get soap
- Scrub hands
- Rinse hands
- Turn off water
- Get towel/paper napkin
- Dry hands
- Hang up towel/throw paper napkin away
When teaching a new skill, don’t forget to provide constant reinforcement or use a token economy chart and the appropriate level of prompting necessary to ensure that your child never experiences failure.
About the Expert Contributor
Expert Name: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Expert Title: Monisha Acharya-Lammert
Company Name: Step By Step Academy
Company URL: www.stepbystepacademy.org
Monisha Acharya-Lammert is the Outreach Director at Step By Step Academy (SBSA) and has been serving children diagnosed with autism since 2001. In her role as Director, she delivers parent and staff trainings on the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis(ABA), provides strategies on behavior management, as well as oversees and develops comprehensive behavior plans with the guidance of the Human Rights Committee. With guidance from the Executive Director at SBSA, she has established and supervised an Intensive Behavioral Intervention (IBI) classroom in the Morrow County area since August 2010.
Monisha was a home-based private consultant for five years before joining the Step by step team. She is continuing her education by preparing for the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst certification under the direct supervision of a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.