Daily Living Skills

Daily living skills or activities of daily living (ADL’s) are any anything we do to take care of ourselves and our environment. This includes leisure, work, self-care, and our home. Daily living skills are a crucial area of skills that should be taught starting at a young age. Many of the skills that we do on a daily basis are considered daily living skills so there are a lot to learn. Many individuals that end up living in a residential setting struggle with the ability to complete even basic daily living skills*.

Home Care-These are skills we do on a daily basis to keep our home neat and clean. These activities include cleaning up after yourself, cooking, shopping, household chores, laundry, and outside cleaning. The complexity of home care skills will vary person to person. It is important to look at what skills would be most feasible for your child to learn and complete. Some of these skills can be started when other children their age may do the same activities. Some children starting at age 7 and 8 have basic chores like putting their laundry by the washing machine. Children would disabilities can and should learn these same skills.

Leisure skills-Leisure skills are activities we enjoy and do to keep ourselves busy. These include playing, going to places in the community, and spending time with friends and family. Community safety should be taught from a young age and continuously taught and built upon as the child grows older. Also from a young age children should be taught to play independently and with others. This can be in the form of learning to play with a variety of toys (pretend play, building blocks…) or in the form of an independent picture activity schedule.  The picture activity schedule (PAS) gives your child a list of activities to complete to help keep them busy and engaged during the day.  As your child grows, the variety and complexity of skills will grow and change with your child. The more independent your child can become at keeping themselves busy will help prevent boredom behaviors as they grow older.

Self-Care-Self-care covers the widest range of skills and are one of the first areas of daily living skills to be formally taught. Being able to fully take care of your basic care needs (hygiene, grooming, toileting), quality of life vastly improves. No matter what their mental functioning level, a 20 year old getting help in the shower hurts the dignity of the individual. When starting to teach daily living skills, this is the most important to focus on in the beginning.

Work-Work skills are an area that should be started when the child reaches middle school. All individuals with special needs can have a job. Some individuals will be able to work in a community job. Other individuals will spend their day working in an adult facility. It is important that the individual have as much input as possible when they reach the age to start working. It is just as important to be honest with them as to what their abilities/limitations will be with their job selection. It is important to begin discussing job options so you know what skills will need to be taught.


*Living in a group home and the ability to complete daily living skills do not go hand in hand. It is a family decision to put a child in a group home from weighing out the pros and cons. Just because your child can or cannot complete daily living skills does not mean they will or will not need to live in a group home.

August 21, 2011 This post was written by Categories: Daily Living Skills Information No comments yet

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