Personal Daily Living

The biggest challenge to daily living skills is that they are boring and repetitive.  This is the same for everyone regardless of ability level.  Cleaning is probably the most mundane of these skills.  We all know it is important for healthy living, but no one looks forward to doing it day in and day out.  Unfortunately, the reinforcement for doing cleaning activities is not very concrete.  We know germs are there, but they are not visible to the naked eye, and we all get sick regardless of our cleaning efforts, so it is hard to feel the direct connection as we toil at cleaning day after day.  Fortunately, individuals with autism are very routine governed so once the routine is established, they are likely to stick with it.  Using this to our advantage, first we establish a cleaning routine.  This is helpful to both staff and those we serve.  Most people do best with a little bit of cleaning each day instead of saving an entire week of dishes for the end of the week.  For example, each night we vacuum one room in the house or clean the bathroom, which is rotated in at least twice a week.  Each time we use a dish, it is rinsed and put in the dishwasher.  The dishwasher is run on Wed. and Sat. and clean dishes are put away.  Washing, drying and putting away laundry is also done once a week on Sat.  Having this schedule available for staff and those we serve helps everyone to stay on schedule and be able to anticipate what tasks need done.  Once the routine is established and available for everyone to reference, it is time to start teaching the cleaning skills.  Be sure to be aware of what individuals can do to maintain as much independence as possible.  We want to add to skills not let them deteriorate due to lack of use.  We can teach cleaning skills by modeling, prompting, step-by-step instructions, etc.  But, if there is resistance to the task, YouTube videos offer a way to have the instruction come from a neutral party.  We all need rewards for cleaning that go beyond just living in a healthy environment.  A preferred activity (ie media time, an outing, etc.) should be done after doing the cleaning to reinforce the schedule.