Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Navigate Life Texas: Resources for kids with disabilities and special needs

Taking Steps to Independence

06/04/2015 | Published by: Cindi Paschall

Families across our country look forward to being with friends and family on the Fourth of July. It’s a day to celebrate our country’s independence. But many of us wonder if our family member with a disability will ever enjoy any independence. Remember that even though the degree of independence will vary, we must have high expectations and aim toward more independence.

A good place to start working on increasing our child’s independence is daily life skills, personal hygiene, or chores around the house. Think of small jobs that your child can do, or maybe start with jobs they can do part of. We can build on these skills.

Below are some ideas on where to start.

Timers and alarms can help our children to be more independent. Set an alarm to wake up in the morning or for things like catching the bus, taking medicine, leaving for work, or starting chores. They can use smart phones or kitchen timers if we teach them what to do when the alarm goes off. Using timers will help our children be more independent and more confident. It will also mean less work for us as parents and family.

Photos and charts of chores and jobs might make it easier for our children to finish a job independently. A chart of things to do before leaving for school each morning and a photo-list of the steps to setting the table might be helpful. Hang multiple photo-lists around the house to help with independence.

Choose a job that you want your child to learn to do and break the job into small steps. When teaching the job, you might complete all the steps of the task except the very last one. Then, teach your child to do the last step of the task. For several days, do the job leaving the very last step for your child to finish each time. Once they can do the last step independently, then allow them to do the last two steps of the job. Keep adding steps in backwards order until your child can do the job alone from start to finish.

Parents and family members can help with independence. Families can celebrate newly learned independence this July 4th.  Check out our page on transition to adulthood for more ideas on how to help your child reach their own personal best level of independence!