It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings. Ann Landers
We have had wonderful therapists and teachers who have set a great foundation for our daughter to learn. I have learned a lot from them too since I am not a teacher. I had to learn how to develop step by step instructions so I could break down a basic skill and teach it.
We have been working on doing laundry this past month. Really for a lot longer but I have been concentrating on this skill this month. She already has a great deal of skills under her belt, but in order for her to be self sufficient, I know I need to keep teaching her more skills. Adriana like any kid has to be reminded to do her chores or she will happily ignore her responsibilities. Sound like any typical kid right? By now most of us moms and dads can do laundry with our eyes closed but for a child, more so one with cognitive delays, or learning issues, we are going to have to break the task in steps. Have you ever done a search on how to do laundry? This is what I found on the Internet:
We have worked with our daughter on sorting her clothes into colors, whites and darks. I have not started on delicates because of the different machine settings and soap, so I am doing those for her, for now. For now we are working on the mechanics of using the washer and the dryer. Fortunately for us, the controls of our machine are on the front and within her reach, which this makes task much easier.
Load the clothes, add the soap, close the door, and push the right buttons to start the wash. In preparation for this task I thought it would take advantage of technology and use the new detergent pod, no measuring, and she is old enough to know they are not candy. I also put them in a place where she would have easy access too. I did the same thing with the dryer sheets
For some kids, we might have to do the steps in pictures, cards or lists. Take pictures of them as you teach them, put them on index cards which you can laminate and put on a ring so they can use them while you teach them or as prompts.
Once the clothes were done, it was time to dry them. For this again, steps. One of my pet peeves is people not cleaning the lint trap so of course I taught Adriana how to do this. Then to transfer the clothes from the washer to the dryer, put in the dryer sheet and then start the machine in the right setting.
The final step is folding, hanging and putting away. She wasn’t too happy about this step, but once she was done she was happy and showing off.
The funny or not so funny thing about this is that the tasks seem so simple, but there is more to it than just doing laundry. It is the sense of independence that I want to impart on her, the sense that she can do things just like her younger sister who lives in her own apartment does. I want to make sure I impart the skills she needs to be independent when I am no longer able to help her and for her to know that I was the one that taught her that.
Working on laundry has been a long process, we have been working on this task since she was in High school and it was part of her IEP under life skills. Adriana had to help the health office with the towels they used. Since Adriana visited the health office daily for her blood glucose testing, the IEP team suggested that this would be a good way to give back and learn a skill. She still does not do this independently, she still needs reminders that she has to do laundry, however, we are on our way to getting there.