Thursday, December 4, 2008

10 easy steps to teaching new skills

It is unfortunately very easy for families to become caught up in the management of the care of a child with special needs and loose sight of the long-term. Now, no one has a crystal ball but the ultimate goal for all adults is that they acquire the skills they need to live as independent and satisfying life as they are able. Parents MUST keep this in mind when teaching their children the skills for independence. We all know it is generally easier to wash, dress and even feed a young child with special needs- BUT this not only removes the multitude of opportunities for learning new skills it also diminishes opportunities for the child to develop a sense of mastery/pride/competence! Children with special needs will require activities broken down for them in order for them to learn BUT that does not mean they can't learn. When in doubt, parents should seek out professionals who know their child and rely on their expertise in behavior modification techniques to teach basic skills that will slowly build towards real independence.

Ten steps for teaching skills to children/teens with special needs.

1. It is important to set a positive, supportive, success oriented tone.
2. Get the buy in - the child has to want to learn this Or at least want the reward.
3. The task to be learned must be clearly defined.
4. The task must be broken down into "bite-sized" pieces.
5. The child's learning style (auditory,visual,modeling?) must be used.
6. Progress must be written down (charted?).
7. The reward/s must be clear and initially immediate.
8. The reward MUST be given if the task is completed EVEN if the child had a poor attitude - next time include a positive attitude in the description - (see step 3).
9. Even VERY young children need to learn to do things for himself - in fact,
the younger you start this the easier, more natural it's going to become.
10. Get HELP! Use the people who work closely with your child, special ed teacher,
OT?, Psychologist - all will have special training in this process.