Life Skills Program- Some Early Learners over the age of 8 years may also need additional prioritization of skills that will improve their quality of life. Typical goals for this profile include:

  • Independent toileting and feeding
  • Useful augmentative communication
  • Brushing teeth, bathing, menstruation
  • Household chores, light meal prep, independent leisure skills

We utilize a combination of both intensive teaching and natural environment teaching which vary depending on the profile of the learner and the particular skills being taught. Most of this teaching is not intuitive but has been shown to be the most effective of any other treatment.

Intensive Teaching is the modern version of Discrete Trial. It maximizes opportunities for responding, averaging 16-25 responses per minute, so that skills are learned fluently and opportunities for reinforcement occur more frequently. The variables that influence reinforcer effectiveness are critical to understand for successful intensive teaching.

Natural Environment Teaching (NET) capitalizes on the child’s motivation as the foundation for learning. It produces opportunities for generalization of skills learned in an intensive format, and makes them relevant and useful to the child.


The ABC Way

Cronin (1996) defined life skills as “those skills or tasks that contribute to the successful, independent functioning of an individual in adulthood” (p. 54). These skills may generally be grouped into five broad clusters 1) self-care and domestic living, 2) recreation and leisure, 3) communication and social skills, 4) vocational skills, and 5) other skills vital for community participation (such as postsecondary education) (Nietupski & Hamre-Nietupski, 1997, p. 38).

The research demonstrates a number of effective interventions are available for teaching functional life skills to youth with developmental disabilities including autism. It is also generally accepted that there is a link between life skills acquisition and life quality, although it is difficult to measure this empirically.

“The essence of life skills acquisition cannot be weighed in terms of degrees, diplomas, or other documents; rather, it is demonstrated in their level of independent living, community adjustment, and enhanced quality of life” (Cronin, 1996, p. 53). Thus a relationship between life skills acquisition and life quality is apparent and when a person’s repertoire of various life skills increases, his or her independent functioning, social competence, and quality of life also improves!”