Learning Responsibility

It’s often easier to do something for a child on the spectrum than to have them do it for themselves, but learning responsibility is an important step on the way to independence and it is important for a child that has been diagnosed with autism to learn how to do things for themselves in order to build confidence, adapt to their environment, and engage properly with their peers.

Here are some ways to help your child on the spectrum learn the importance of responsibility.

  1. Use pictures or drawings of items and tape them in specific locations around the house to remind children where things belong.
  2. Provide easy way for your child on the spectrum to organize their belongings. A storage bin, or mat for their shoes, and a toothbrush holder, soap holder and cup in their bathroom so they know here to place their personal hygiene items. All areas should be accessible when the child is standing on the floor or on a step stool so they can be responsible for putting their own items away.
  3. Make sure your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, has a way of organizing their work space. Create an outline of the location where each object belongs on their desk Let your child on the spectrum know where to find and return their notebooks, pencils, crayons, and other school materials. Clearly defining areas is important for kids to independently locate and return writing and working materials.
  4. Make sure your child with autism has an easy and effective way of organizing their school materials, such as their book bag. Give children the resources they need to organize their papers, pencils, and other school supplies. Folders are a way to keep papers sorted by subject. Be sure to use folders with pockets that are secure and provide enough space for necessary pages.  Label notebooks and use different color books for different subjects. Make a weekly routine to review your child’s folders with them and eliminate unnecessary papers and start off a new week prepared and organized.
  5. Teach your child easy ways to keep their room clean and put away their clothes. Make sure they understand that dirty clothes go into a laundry bin, teach your child on the spectrum how to hang and fold their clothes. Try to make their shelves and closets accessible to them. If they are too small to reach these items, or you fear they are not capable of such a task, work them to place all clothes that need to be hung up neatly in one pile and fold the clothes that need to go into their dresser in another pile and then you can put the items away for them, until they are old enough, tall enough, or responsible enough to do it on they own.

As adults, we use strategies to organize our lives, providing children with similar strategies helps organize their environments and promotes independence. Although we try and help our children who have been diagnosed with autism organize by reminding them to put their things away, many children often need examples and support to succeed at organizing their lives.