Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Independence: What Does It Take?

If you are like me, the process toward independence was slow! I mean really SLOW!! What speeds it up? NOT MUCH! It is a slow and excruciating walk for most children (and their caregivers) to reach a stage of greater independence. I have found a few things that have made the difference.


  1. The caregiver (often that was me) had to stay encouraged and not give up. If I gave up, the battle was lost.
  2. Have a plan. It is often said that if you don't have a target, you will hit it. We will spend lots of time in this series tackling this.
  3. Make sure there is consistent practice of a skill. Practice is vital. Remember, "half as much done in twice the amount of time."
  4. The skills need to be presented in a way your child can learn. It may require breaking the skill down in small increments and mastering one at a time. Determine how the instructions are communicated. Do you need to put together visual supports or is verbal instruction sufficient? How much support or assistance to you give your child initially? How do you lessen that support over time?
  5. What are the prerequisites to this skill. If a child needs greater fine motor skills to get his own drink at McDonalds, he will need assistance on part of the task until his motor skills better. Remember, there may be parts of this activity that he can do with support, though. Always allow him to do what he can do independently. Otherwise, he is likely to develop learned helplessness.

Please join me as we explore ways to teach a child with learning differences steps toward independence.