Self-help and Adaptive Skills

It is important that children learn adaptive and self-help skills so they can live independent and productive lives as adolescents and adults.

Self-help skills that involve the “activities of daily living” (ADL) such as getting dressed, going to the bathroom, cleaning teeth, and self-feeding.

Self care skills are one of the first ways that children develop the ability to plan and sequence task performance, to organise the necessary materials and to develop the refined physical control required to carry out daily tasks (e.g. brushing teeth, combing hair, dressing etc). The term ‘self-care’ would suggest that these skills are expected to be done independently. When self-care skills are not developed it becomes a limiting factor for many other life experiences.
Prerequisites to develop self-help skills:

  • Hand and finger strength: An ability to exert force against resistance using the hands and fingers for utensil use.
  • Hand control: The ability to move and use the hands in a controlled manner such as cutlery use for eating.
  • Sensory processing: Accurate interpretation and response to sensory stimulation in the environment and one’s own body.
  • Object manipulation: The ability to skillfully manipulate objects, including the ability to hold pencils, crayons, scissors with control, controlled use of everyday tools such as a toothbrush, hairbrush, and cutlery.
  • Expressive language (using language): The use of language through speech, sign or alternative forms of communication to communicate wants, needs, thoughts and ideas.
  • Planning and sequencing: The sequential multi-step task/activity performance to achieve a well-defined result (e.g. dressing and teeth cleaning).
  • Receptive language (understanding): Comprehension of language.
  • Compliance: Ability to follow simple adult-directed routines

In school, the child is assessed in areas like, eating, grooming, language (expressive and receptive), toileting etc. and based on the assessment and the child’s age an individualized plan is formulated wherein activities of daily living and self-help skills are taught to the child in a systematic and structured way. The assessments are done periodically so as to gauge the extent of the child’s learning and complex tasks are added to the IEP as the child attains mastery over simple tasks.

Assessments are an ongoing part of the school and the IEPs are constantly reviewed and modified to make them more effective and meaningful to the child’s growth and development. 

Related Links:   

Physical Skills   |   Cognitive Skills   |   Communication Skills   |   Social and Emotional Skills