Week 47: Life Skills For Special Needs Kids
I have a niece who has autism. Her name is Gaby, and she is a wonderful, smart, special girl, with lots of fun quirks and special needs that are all unique to her. She’s amazing at doing puzzles and putting together intricate things. She loves everything about Disney and Thomas, and much of her communication with the world is in the form of repeating parts of her favorite stories. She eats 11 foods, has precise routines, and makes us smile every day.
Gaby is 23 now, but she attended a public school, and was in as many “normal” classrooms as possible. She needed aides, but with some help she was able to do much of the coursework. In order to make that possible, my sister Sarah worked hard to help Gaby handle all of the inconsistency, randomness, and stress that Gaby had to deal with every day. Sarah found that visual lists were the best way to help Gaby. Gaby reads well, and visual instructions always work much better for her than oral instructions.
To get her through her school day, my sister Sarah created a visual School Schedule for Gaby. I wrote about that a few months back in my blog post Learning Independence With a School Schedule.
Sarah used visual supports in lots of other parts of daily life, too, and I’ve been working on making The Trip Clip a useful tool that can help other special needs families easily make these kinds of visual supports. For this week’s blog post, I asked Sarah to tell me what some of the more helpful visual supports were that she used with Gaby. Here are Sarah’s versions, alongside the ones I created using The Trip Clip:
Gaby eats the same thing every day, and Sarah wanted her to be able to pack her own lunch. With the help of detailed instructions, Gaby was able to learn how to do it, and she successfully packed her own lunch for school each day. Sarah did have to make a separate set of instructions, though, to teach Gaby to make her own peanut butter sandwich!
Going to a Social Event
Social events are always hard for Gaby. They are crowded, loud, and often chaotic. Sarah always made a social story for Gaby to explain what would happen to help her know what to expect, and what the behavior expectations were.
Sarah no longer has the potty training instructions she used with Gaby years and years ago, but she said a visual list was a requirement to help Gaby remember all of the steps necessary. A reminder to close the door, especially when in public, was an important part of the list for Gaby!
The Trip Clip has over 1000 images to choose from to help you make any list you need to help your special needs kids with their own, personal hurdles. And if you ever need an image that isn’t there, email me and I will try to get it for you!