An Autism Connection

Sunday, April 27, 2014

life skills

I am a middle school teacher, but I have also taught high school and transition. I know how hard it is and how long it takes for students to learn skills they will need to be as independent as possible as adults.  Ideally, teachers would introduce these skills in elementary. In middle school, I believe there should be a mix of both academics and life skills. As they transition to high school,  the shift ideally would be more life skills and the academic skills they need for after school. This of course, should be decided for each individual child. In my program there is currently a mix. Mornings are strictly academics, and after lunch, there is a focus on life, social, pre-vocational, and leisure skills.

 In our classroom, we have a separate kitchen area where we do the bulk of our life skills. We have an assortment of tasks we focus on, including workbox tasks. But in addition, we also wash dishes by hand and dishwasher, wipe counters, sort light and dark clothing, wash and dry clothes, fold clothes, hang clothes on hangers, and put an assortment of clothes on to practice various buttons and zippers. In addition, I also have cupboards and our refrigerator filled with empty packaging of different grocery items that students can practice putting away. This last one is still a work in progress, as there are so many tasks that can be done. I will share more when it is completed. I asked our school staff to donate clean empty packaging and  used clothing, we got some from our school clothing banks, and then our OT brought in a box of clothing items we still needed.  We go through a life skills rotation 3 days a week, and they rotate through the various tasks.
Here are some photos of my students practicing buttons and zippers and hanging clothes. I had asked for extra large items so that they can put the clothes on on top of the clothes they are already wearing.

What do you do for life skills?


  1. Thanks for sharing! I try to do things for life skills instruction both mixed into my work boxes and by doing weekly chores/cooking activities. I know this is an area I am lacking and actually thought of making a part of my classroom a "life skills" center for next year. Where there is an area to sort laundry, fold, hang, etc. Also, like you said putting groceries away and cleaning. Seriously, could we have anymore to teach?!? Haha, I love being able to help my students though.

    1. My parents were so excited to know that their children were going to learn to wash dishes and sort and fold clothes, etc. And most of my students only wear sweat pants and slip on shoes because they can't do buttons or tie their shoes, so that's why I incorporate those skills. Anything you incorporate is worth it for them in the long run, but it definitely is time consuming. Your life skills center sounds like a great idea. Please share if you end up doing that!