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Fostering Independence in Children

Kids with neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and Asperger syndrome (ASD), may have difficulties with self-management and completing tasks independently. One of the best things parents can do for children with learning and developmental issues is to encourage independence so that they are able to successfully function in the world. Certain activities and methods of teaching are important when you're assisting your child to become autonomous at home and school.

Praise from Parents

Independence in children with developmental issues is a goal that is achieved slowly. These children need lots of praise, but it must be focused on a specific behavior or event. An article on Autism Asperger's Digest recommends that, when appropriate, a child should be commended for doing a particular chore, such as putting away groceries or getting school books packed for the next day. In this way, children are being praised for things that they can control.

Expanding Horizons

Teaching independence skills to children with Asperger's syndrome (ASD) allows them to concentrate on developing social skills. For instance, if you teach your son how to button up his winter coat, he'll be able to go outside more quickly to play with the other children at recess time. Or, if your daughter is going to a swimming party, make sure she knows how to put on and take off her bathing suit so she won't feel bad in front of her peers. Lots of practice at home is essential for learning independence, and giving your child the time and space to try, whether he or she fails or succeeds, is important.

Succeeding at School

Parents who do a little background preparation with their children help them to be more independent at school. For instance, your child may have a journal-writing task each Monday morning, where he or she is to write about something your family did over the weekend. Supplying a photo of an activity or event your family enjoyed will help your child to quickly focus on the task of writing up the journal each week.

Self-Care

Asperger's syndrome (ASD) and self-care don't go hand in hand easily due to sensory issues that may also exist, but this is an essential life skill that needs to be taught if children are to grow into independent adults. Encourage your child to establish their own methods for self care - like taking baths instead of showers if they don't like the sensation of water coming from a spray.  Once these routines are established, close monitoring of daily hygiene routines must gradually be withdrawn, with the expectation that children can do them on their own.

Chores

Doing chores around the home is an area where children can learn skills, and setting specific rules and allowing practice is key, states a fact sheet from Synapse, an Australian autism and Asperger syndrome (ASD) information site. Cooking and using sharp knives are activities that parents often feel are fraught with risk, but if children are to become independent they need to know how to use these tools.

Perseverance

Although sometimes you may feel that Asperger's syndrome (ASD) and independence are not words to be uttered in the same sentence, don't give up hope — with lots of encouragement, your child can learn the skills necessary to function alone without your assistance and grow into independent and successful adults.


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