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Developing A Plan to Teach Useful Skills

When you know someone who has been diagnosed with autism or another developmental delay, you want to do everything you can to help that person develop useful skills so that he or she can be as independent as possible and live life to the fullest. You may be a parent of a child who has autism, or your neighbor may be an adult with autism. You might even be an instructor who teaches those with developmental delays. No matter what kind of relationship you have with the diagnosed individual, it is important to develop a plan to teach useful skills and recognize your responsibilities within that plan.

Success on the Spectrum: How to Teach Skills to Individuals with Autism is a practical guide authored by our very own James W. Partington, Ph.D., and Scott W., Partington, M.A. We frequently highlight excerpts from this guide to provide parents, educators, and other individuals with autism education resources, including helpful information and strategies for assisting those with developmental delays. In today’s post, we’ll review four sources of teaching services, discuss the importance of a parent’s role in teaching critical skills, and review why it is important for individuals to learn these skills.

Four Sources of Teaching Services

There are a wide variety of both public and private teaching services that are available to those who have been diagnosed with autism. These autism education and teaching sources include:

Early Intervention Programs

The type of service may vary considerably, and they could be anything from a group-based, informational program to a highly structured, intensive teaching program. Certain preschools may provide early intervention programs for children with developmental delays.

School-Based Programs

These services may vary considerably depending on the needs of the learner and the types of services available in the community. School-based programs have access to a variety of specialists, from speech and language pathologists to adaptive physical education instructors.

Supplemental Programs

To supplement sources of public teaching services, parents often arrange for supplemental services from private professionals or agencies. These professionals implement Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)-based teaching, individual speech and language sessions, motor development, and social interaction skills development activities.

Adult Services

Adults with developmental delays also benefit from the assistance of teaching programs, but they are no longer eligible for school-based programs because of their age. Many adult services programs fail to place an emphasis on further development of skills, but rather, focus on providing supervised recreational, vocational, and work-training activities.

Although these four teaching services cover a lot of ground in terms of helping someone with developmental delays learn the useful skills they need to be independent, it is very rare that any one of them individually can address all of the learner’s needs. There may be some unique skills that these service providers simply don’t teach. Because of this, it is important for parents and caretakers to explore all options available, both public and private, as well as understand the importance of the role they play in the learner’s success.

The Importance of a Parent’s Role

If you have visited our website or begun reading a copy of Success on the Spectrum: How to Teach skills to Individuals with Autism, it is clear that you care about the well being of someone close to you who is having difficulty developing skills. If you are a parent of a child with autism or another type of developmental delay, your involvement in the teaching process is critical to the learner’s success — it is unwise to simply “leave it to the professionals” for several reasons.

First, you play an essential role in your child’s life, regardless of their age. Although a number of professionals will be involved in your child’s learning process, you are the one who ultimately oversees and coordinates the feedback that you get from various professionals throughout your child’s life. In short, you are the best advocate your child will ever have.

Second, no one knows your child better than yourself. Private professionals and agencies are experts at certain teaching methods, but they may not fully understand the implications of their efforts. Because they are not around your child as much as you are, these teachers may not see how failing to address other deficits or behavior patterns affect your child’s overall development.

Finally, as a parent or caregiver, you have numerous opportunities each day to help your child develop the skills they need to live life to the fullest. Even the busiest of parents can find “teachable moments” with their children during activities such as eating, dressing, and bathing. These experiences are something that your child won’t receive from teaching services.

Parents Teaching Useful Skills

Preparing your child to be as independent as possible is a parent’s greatest task. While this task might be more complex than expected if your child has a developmental delay, the need for possessing these skills is not diminished. As a parent or caregiver, you know what motivates your child. This leaves you in an ideal position to tailor his or her daily activities in a way that allows you to provide the most effective teachable moments. This enables your child to learn the skills in the proper context, and it encourages repetition. The new skills your child is learning are more likely to be maintained when they are used on a regular basis, and that is an effective first step in preparing them to be independent.

Autism Education for Elevating Quality of Life

Developing a strategic teaching plan to help your child learn the useful skills that he or she needs is essential to elevating his or her quality of life. At Partington Behavior Analysts, we seek to promote high-quality effective interventions for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities by providing autism educational resources for clinicians, educators, and parents. From training workshops and online courses to online consultations, you’re sure to find the assistance that suits your learner’s needs. Contact us today to learn more about our products and services!

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