Life Skills

Life skills are very complex tasks which require specific teaching and plenty of practice.

Children and young people with autism can find learning and acquiring a variety of life skills difficult, whereas typically developing/neurotypical children and young people spontaneously develop many life skills, particularly through imitation.  Teenagers with autism need to be taught life skills.

Life skills are very complex tasks and so require specific teaching, practice and adapted visual strategies. These skills can be categorised as ‘thinking skills’ and ‘learning skills’.

  • Thinking Skills:
    • Creativity and imagination
    • Problem solving
    • Decision making
    • Self-knowledge
    • Critical thinking
    • Assessing and analysing information
  • Learning Skills:
    • Agility and adaptability
    • Receiving and giving feedback
    • Handling criticism
    • Innovation and exploration
    • Learner autonomy

Life skills and activities fall into three areas:

  • Work (pre vocational and employability skills, carrying out responsibilities and delegated tasks)
  • Self – care (personal hygiene, grooming, dressing and toileting)
  • Leisure (hobbies, sports community groups)

Many of the core difficulties associated with autism limit the ability to learn and develop life skills. Teenagers with autism may have difficulty with:

  • Joint attention (awareness of others, drive to imitate/ learn from others)
  • Communication and interaction (understanding social rules)
  • Sensory processing issues
  • Coping with change
  • Motor skill development (physical ability)
  • Executive functioning difficulties (problem solving, making decisions, planning and organising)

Click on the links to learn more about strategies that may be useful for teaching life skills.