Self help/Independent living skills
These are composed of daily skills necessary to our every day lives such as dressing, personal self care, meal time routines, food preparation, toileting, bathing, personal hygiene, taking care of personal living space. Due to lack of motivation, problems with sensory issues and difficulties learning, these skills can be a challenge to individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities.
While some children with autism and other developmental disabilities may posses receptive and expressive language skills, they may need support to use these skills in social situations. Some children may have expressive language, but uses it in unusual ways. Some are able to speak in elaborate sentences while others are able to only speak in one word sentences. Some may have language, but is is peppered with communication errors and pronoun reversals. For example, instead of a child saying”I want cookie”, he/she may say, “she want cookie” Others repeat what they hear…Echolalia (e.g. when asked “how are you?”, they answer “how are you?”. Still, others may possess advanced vocabulary and be able to speak in depth about a particular interest/topic, but they may be unable to engage in a conversation with others regarding this favorite topic. In teaching communication, we also target eye contact (maintaining eye contact) attending to a presented topic for a duration of time, using facial and gestural expression as well as tone of voice.
Many children and teens with autism spectrum and other social communication disorders have social problems, such as difficulties making friends and having two-sided interactive conversations. EDS covers important practical issues involved in helping groups of children learn new skills and techniques for peer interaction. EDS uses research proven methodologies to teach age appropriate relating skill and competencies, including social communication, problem solving, decision making, self-management, and peer relations. Social skills training occur both in the home and community. For example, a behavior therapist may use a structured approach to explain to the child how to enact a desired behavior by providing examples and reinforcing targeted behaviors through questions, answers, and other feedback. An example of a more nuanced approach (often referred to as “incidental teaching”) is when therapist respond to child-generated utterances, interactions, and behavior to encourage the desired social skills (such as rewarding positive play).
These are skills that drive a child to communicate and connect with others. EDS focuses on a variety of age appropriate leisure and play skills community oriented activities (e.g., movies, museums, parks, walks, etc.), Cooperative play with siblings and peers, family game and leisure time.
Executive functions helps one manage tasks of all types. The executive functions are a set of processes that have to do with managing oneself and one’s resources in order to achieve a goal. These are neurologically-based skills involving mental control and self-regulation. These includes, initiation, emotional control, planning, organization of materials, self-monitoring, etc. Executive functions include the ability to:
- keep track of more than one thing at once
- meaningfully including past knowledge in discussions
- engage in group dynamics
- evaluate ideas
- reflect on one’s work
- finish work on time
- ask for help
- wait to speak until called on
- seek more information when needed.
Problems with executive function may be manifested when a person has:
- difficulties planning a task
- difficulties telling how much time a task will take to complete
- Difficulties telling a story (verbally or in writing); has trouble communicating details in an organized, sequential manner
- difficulties with the mental strategies involved in memorization and retrieving information from memory
- difficulties initiating activities or tasks, or generating ideas independently
- difficulties retaining information while doing something with it; e.g., remembering a phone number while dialing.
Behavior management and self regulation
Self regulation skills include, waiting skills, requesting a bleak, problem solving, ability to be flexible, ability to adapt when necessary, the ability to be persistent, the ability to transition from one activity to another, the ability to tolerate input from the environment, ability to make choices, ability to orient and to concentrate on specific objects or stimuli, etc. Some researchers maintain that difficulties with self-regulation results from over or underarousal of the nervous system. When a child has regulation difficulties such as inability to attend, they may have problems learning. Also, common behavioral patterns exhibited by individuals with autism such as inflexibility and rigidity may be an attempt to coping with overwhelming environmental or internal factors. The behavioral patterns may include, ritualistic or self-stimulatory behaviors, aggressive behaviors, hostility, irritability, and non-compliance.
Safety in the home and community
Community and safety Participating in recreational activities in the community, maintaining appropriate and safe behavior in the community, stranger awareness, interact with community members (e.g., store clerk, waitress/waiter, etc.)
Transitioning and routines
These skills include; Preparing for school, coming home from school routines, snack routines, bedtime routines, preparing for community outing routines, meal time routines etc. Being able to transition from one activity to another without behavior excesses is critical.
Community based skills
These includes exposure to parks, grocery stores, trips to get the child’s hair cut, trips to the dentist and any other activities depending on family’s interest and lifestyle. EDS targets the skills necessary to participate in those environments. For example, a trip to Mcdonald’s may focus on reading and choosing from the menu, ordering food, paying for the food, taking food to the table, and throwing the trash away. Community based activities allows the child and his/her family to participate in preferred and necessary community activities