Teaching Activities of Daily Living & Self-Care

Trying to identify accurate and pertinent information about how to help your child can seem overwhelming. There are many areas that you may want to devote some attention to as a parent, including the subject of training your child in common activities of daily life (ADL)—but it’s hard to know where to begin. 

Thankfully, there are many useful resources out there that can help you better understand this topic and also develop practical strategies to help your child thrive at these skills.

Helpful Articles, Research & Blogs 


An overview about training children for independence:

This article from Verywell Family points out some important milestones in early behavioral development, and discusses the proper mindset for parents to adopt. It also covers some specifics of a few universally relevant examples—such as dressing oneself, potty training, hygiene and household chores.

Tools for teaching life skills to special needs children:

This follow-up piece from Verywell Family addresses issues that will become important as children get older, and some training techniques that parents and teachers can use—taking into account the unique challenges of various learning styles and abilities. It explains why methods such as creating visual guides, task analysis and social stories can be useful in some types of situations.  

A useful checklist for planning your child’s ADL training:

The Autism Community in Action (TACA) also provides some excellent resources, such as this one that outlines how to determine which skills to teach as well as outlines activities that can be used for learning and practice for many key skills. Download a free checklist here

The value of building daily routines for your child:

An academic-created resource you may find useful is this one from Vanderbilt University’s Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning. Through sample stories, it covers the value of building daily routines for your child. This, too, offers some reliable info on how your approach as a parent can help cultivate your child’s success at learning these skills.

Books Worth Reading

For those hoping to delve deeper into tasks that can help train a child’s ADL skills, there are books available on this subject as well:

  1. Life Skills Activities for Special Children 
  2. Life Skills Activities for Secondary Students 

Teaching everyday life skills to your special needs child can certainly be a challenge, but with the right support, mindset and tools at your disposal, it can feel a lot less daunting. We hope these resources can help you develop an action plan that works well for your family.

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