Chores for the young person with autism
It's surprising how many parents dislike the term "chores". Maybe it comes from unpleasant childhood experiences doing their own chores, or is it that they didn't have chores and feel strongly that children should have a childhood free from drudgery? Perhaps they feel that chores are menial, and that their children are "above" menial labor. Well, whatever your reason, if you do not already have your child doing chores, then you are setting him/her up for some tough life lessons. Chores are important. Not only are they important, they are vital to prepare any person for adulthood. Do you remember what Sir Topham Hatt used to say to his engines (this is if your child was obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine like my son was)? The highest compliment he could give was to tell a train character that he was "..a really useful engine". Chores teach how to be useful. Useful is extremely important; much more important than smarts, or talent, or cuteness. Statistics show that employment for individuals with ASD is almost impossible, but not because they lack brains or talent or attractiveness. No, it's extremely difficult for our young people on the spectrum to get employed and stay employed because we have not taught them to be useful. Let's go back to the train analogy...what made a train "useful' in the CEO's eyes? Simply that he was clean and tidy, got to his job on time, and did his best. Asked for help when he needed it. Was polite and honest. All what a regular person should know how to do. Nothing special or exceptional about what is expected here. Simply be clean, be on time, and do your best.
And how do we teach this? The answer is simple - so simple it's astounding. CHORES. Everyday chores that start with small steps, and probably lots of visual aides and praise. The hard part, my good friends, is for us to take the time and the patience to work on these skills thru chores every day. It's not easy, but it's the only way.