Teaching Independence

As the Monster is getting older, we’re trying to find new ways to teach him independence from us.

When he was first diagnosed with Autism – back when he was wholly non-verbal – we were struggling with getting him to express his needs so that folks could help him.  In the years since, he’s slowly acquired the scripting to have a simple phrase, “Can I have [x], please?”, to get himself past some of the stumbling blocks.

But there are other things that he has to learn, aside from asking for help.

He’s still not at the point of dressing himself – a lot of the closures on clothing are still a problem for him.  He’s learning with his OTs to handle button strips, but the logistics of doing his own shirt buttons is still evading him.  Buttons on pants are hit-or-miss.  He can handle snaps and zippers, and so we’re tending towards putting him in pants with snaps when we can… but they don’t exactly make those in adult sizes (from what I’ve seen), and I suspect we’d prefer that he not be in just elastic waistband pants when he’s older.

He also isn’t quite up to handling the bathroom alone.  Part of this is based on the clothing issue, but part of it is also just the logistics of it.  I think that it’s one of those things that the school is going to work on with him, trying to wean him off needing an adult in there to help direct him.  (That, and it’d be so much easier when we’re out if we can just send him into the stall instead of waiting for one big enough for an adult to fit in with him.)

On eating, he’s semi-independent.  He can use a fork and spoon… it’s the question of whether he wants to.  We’re probably not helping matters with the fact that most of his favorite foods are finger foods, but on the other hand, he’s demonstrating that he’s slowly capable of handling cereal and the like… and that’ll help later.  In addition, when the bus arrives on time at school, he gets to have breakfast with his class, where they’re working on cereal with milk (he gets it dry at home), so hopefully that’s working out well.

But there’s a lot of other things we’ve not yet tried to teach him yet.  We’ve only barely touched on crossing the street, because he doesn’t seem be grasping (yet) the concept of checking for cars coming – he locks on to whether or not he sees cars, even if they’re parked.  We’ve not tried to teach him any of his own food preparation, or even really allowed him to help too much in the kitchen.

So many things we have to teach him, and no idea when he’ll be ready to learn them…

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