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Self-Help Skills for People with Autism:
A Systematic Teaching Approach

by Stephen R. Anderson, Amy L. Jablonski, Marcus L. Thomeer & Vicki Madaus Knapp

Item: 9781890627416

Format : softcover
Pages : 200

Learning self-help skills — eating, dressing, toileting, and personal hygiene — can be challenging for people with autism, but is essential for independence. Self-Help Skills for People with Autism thoroughly describes a systematic approach that parents (and educators) can use to teach basic self-care to children, ages 24 months to early teens, and even older individuals. With an encouraging tone, the authors — behaviour analysts and psychologists — emphasise that it’s worthwhile to devote the extra time and effort now to teach skills rather than have your child be dependent on others.

The many case studies throughout Self-Help Skills depict individuals with deficits in specific self-care tasks, and demonstrate how a coordinated and systematic approach is effective in teaching more complex skills. For example, a 12-year-old with the self-feeding skills of a toddler, who was excluded from the school cafeteria, is taught to stay at the table to eat a full meal using utensils. The book’s beginning chapters explain the teaching process in detail:

  • Specify the target skill to be taught after prioritising the self-care tasks that are most important and will likely have the greatest success rate
  • Use task analysis to break complex skills into a series of small steps that will later be linked together to form the more complex skill
  • Apply a systematic approach to instruction that consistently employs proven methods for teaching people with autism including verbal prompting, reinforcers/rewards, chaining, graduated guidance, shaping, modeling, visual supports, etc.
  • Monitor progress by collecting and analysing data
  • Modify your approach as needed to achieve the target goal

A chapter is devoted to each of the four skill areas (eating, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene) offering detailed insight and specific instruction strategies. Appendices contain forms to complete for task analyses, instructional plans, and data collection. With the information in Self-Help Skills, parents can immediately start teaching their child, or refer back to the book to fine-tune skills as their child develops.

Guides for parents of children with autism have tended to focus on educational and social goals, but as the authors of this book point out, practical self-care skills are just as important. Psychologist Anderson, psychologist Amy L. Jablonski, psychologist Marcus L. Thomeer, and behaviour analyst Vicki Madaus Knapp – all affiliated with summit Educational Resources in Tonawanda, NY – convincingly make the case that although teaching these children skills for independence is time-consuming and involved, the results in the long run benefit both parents and children. Yes, breaking into steps even the simplest task, such as hand washing, is daunting, but it makes for adults who fit into school and the greater community and experience success in their personal and work lives. Parents will appreciate the authors’ patient, encouraging tone, not to mention their comprehensive coverage of eating, toileting, dressing, and personal hygiene. In addition to the illustrative case studies, there are appendixes with data sheets and instruction plans. This latest entry in the publisher’s Topics in Autism series is recommended for public and academic libraries with autism collections.”
- Library Journal, August 2007

“‘I can do it myself!’ What parent hasn’t heard these five words uttered by their child at various ages and stages of growth? Asserting independence is a typical part of development for most kids. However, autism can change all that, and even basic self-help skills like dressing, eating, toileting, and hygiene can be a challenge. Even smart kids with ASD become teens without knowing how to care for themselves. What’s a parent to do?
Start now, no matter what you child’s age, with this dazzler book as your guide: Self-Help Skills for People with Autism. Cover to cover we loved its systematic, functional approach for teaching self-help skills to spectrum kids, toddlers to teens, nonverbal to verbal. Parents learn to assess their child’s functioning levels, set objectives, break skills down into simple tasks, and use step-by-step teaching strategies to help their child become successful and independent. Lots of lists, charts, visuals and question sets take the guess-work out of teaching. (See table 3-3) Valuable information for parents and educators alike.”
- Autism Asperger’s Digest, May/June 2008

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