Teaching living skills at home, laundry

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:

  1. Intro: How to Do Your Own Laundry (basic) Time to complete: Approximately 45 mins.
  2. Step 1: Separate Clothes. Separate the clothes into piles. …
  3. Step 2: Use Dial to Start Washing Machine. Turn the dial to set the washing type.
  4. Step 3: Load Machine. …
  5. Step 4: Add Detergent. …
  6. Step 5: Close lid. …
  7. Step 6: Wait.


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

Loading laundry
Loading the washer
adding soap
Adding soap pod
Punching the wash settings













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.

Cleaning dryer screen
Cleaning the lint screen
From washer to dryer
Moving clothes from washer to dryer
Getting dryer sheet
Getting the dryer sheet
Setting the dryer














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.


Emptying the dryer
folding 1
Folding and hanging
folding done
Folding done, proud of her accomplishment.









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.

laundry done
“I did good!”



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Luz Adriana

My name is Luz Adriana Martinez and for the past 27 years I have been working in the field of advocacy for children with disabilities. I hold an MBA from the University of Phoenix and a BA from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico. I'm married to a great guy, Tito, an Army Veteran of 22 years, who supports all the crazy things I do. Being an Army wife also prepared us to be always on the move and without daddy for long periods of time. This also gave me the opportunity work and volunteer with organizations whose mission was to assist other military families. This blog results from my desire to give back to the many families that have given me and mine so much. I have had the fortune to be able to travel the world assisting military families and now that that stage of my life is over, I want to continue to share what I have learned in the hopes that I can still provide some information and resources to families who need it.

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  • Janice on March 15, 2016

    Way to go Little A!

  • Claudia Blanton on March 24, 2016

    sounds like you are an awesome mom!

    • Luz Adriana on March 24, 2016

      Thanks Claudia. I try really hard since it takes her several attempts to master the skill and for her to feel comfortable doing it without my help.

  • Hi Luz! Thank you so much for sharing your blog post last month on my What Are You Doing? Blog hop. Just wanted to let you know that your post was featured! Thanks for sharing!

    • Luz Adriana on April 8, 2016

      Sara, Thank you for featuring my post. I look forward to reading what everyone else is up to and sharing more blogs with What Are You Doing Blog hop.

Thanks for the comment. Anything else we should be talking about?