Strategies for Chores
Below are a range of chores which a child or young person can be involved in and useful resources and strategies to assist.
- Setting the table
- Washing dishes
- Loading/ emptying the dishwasher
- Cleaning windows
- Tidying their belongings
- Taking out the bin
- Brushing the floor
- Making the bed
- Cleaning the bathroom
- Grocery Shopping
- Food Storage
- Meal Preparation
- Chore Checklist/ Chart
- Other helpful resources
1. Setting the table
Involving the child/ young person in setting of the table will help with picture and object association and organisation in addition to giving them a sense of responsibility. It may also encourage them to sit at the table to eat meals with the rest of the family.
- Object instructions for setting the table
- Video/ song for setting the table
- Setting the table placemat
- Structured teaching task
- Boardmaker Symbols
- Sorting cutlery task
- As an additional skill you may wish to teach the young person how to clean the table after meals
2. Washing dishes
Visual instructions for washing dishes can be used which includes as much or as little detail as the child/ young person requires.
3. Loading/ emptying the dishwasher
As each dishwasher is different it would be advisable to make a specific visual schedule for your dishwasher.
Not only is it important that the child/ young person understands how to wash their laundry either by hand or using a washing machine, but also why this is necessary from a personal hygiene point of view.
Within the topic of laundry, ironing can also be explored. As the iron is hot it is important to take the safety of the child/ young person into consideration.
- How to use a washing machine
- Word based visual instructions – washing a load of clothes
- Social narrative – I can do the laundry
- Folding towels
- Sorting socks task
5. Cleaning windows
When considering the cleaning of windows, take into consideration safety when dealing with warm water and also balance issues if it is necessary to climb up on steps.
To make the task more achievable, you can initially mark off a small area of the window to be washed. The area to be washed can then be increased as the skills are mastered.
6. Tidying their belongings
Giving children and young people responsibility for their own belongings whether that be clothing, toys or school resources will help with their executive functioning skill of organisation and also independence with dressing. This can take many different forms whether labelled coat hooks, drawers, boxes or shelves.
Labelled drawers: Labels for toys:
Named coat hooks:
Visual instructions for tidying bedroom:
- Visual instructions for tidying the bedroom
- Word instructions for tidying the bedroom
- Visual instructions for making the bed
7. Taking out the bin
The young person could be responsible for taking out the household rubbish to the wheelie bin as part of their chore tasks.
Materials which need to be recycled can be put into individual boxes/ bags or bins which are labelled or colour coded. Images of items which can be put into each bin can be stuck on (see recycling sorting cards).
This practice can also be adopted in school. If possible use the same system to avoid confusion.
- Recycling sorting task
- Activity system recycling
- Recycling sorting cards
- Recycling song
- Structured teaching activity
9. Brushing the floor
In order to gain control of the brush it may be necessary to practice as a table top exercise using a tray initially before moving to the floor.
To make the task more achievable, you can initially mark off a small area of the floor to be brushed. The area to be swept can then be increased as the skills are mastered.
Sweeping practice as a table top activity:
As each hoover varies it is best to create a set of visual instructions which is specific to your own hoover, using photographs if possible.
The noise made by a hoover could be overwhelming for some individuals with autism so wearing ear defenders could be helpful. It may also be comforting for them to know that they can turn the hoover on and off.
Additional note about ear defenders:
Ear defenders should be used as part of a desensitisation programme. The child/young person can wear them to block out an unpleasant noise but should be prompted to remove them for the last 5 seconds of the noise and then for gradually longer periods until they can fully tolerate the noise.
11. Making the bed
As with any sequential task visual instructions could be of benefit when completing this chore. Making the bed could also be included into a schedule for the child/ young person to tidy their bedroom.
12. Cleaning the bathroom
When exploring personal hygiene, you could also tie in cleaning the bathroom furniture. You can start with the easier tasks first such as cleaning the sink before progressing on to the shower or bath.
13. Grocery Shopping
This can be a daunting experience for some individuals due to the sights, sounds and smells.
A trip to the supermarket requires several skills such as planning a list, selecting the necessary items, paying for the shopping (money management) and communicating with the supermarket staff if you cannot find something and also at the checkout.
Prior to the trip, it is advisable to have visual instructions of the steps involved from collecting the trolley to packing the groceries and leaving the shop and a social narrative if the child/ young person is anxious.
You should also prepare a list of required items (start with a small number on the first few visits and build up to a larger shop). If possible have the correct money counted out so that there will be no confusion on the first few visits. As there are various brands of some items you could show the required item on the list.
As they become more confident with the task you can use this opportunity to teach flexibility by adding an item which you have forgotten after getting all those on the pre-prepared list.
- Shopping list visual
- Teaching story: Going to the store
- Visual instructions
- Social narrative about going to the mall
- Going to the supermarket social narrative
- Before going to the shop, it may be necessary to ensure you child can recognise different monetary notes and coins. Click here for a suggested task.
Apps to help with grocery shopping:
- Boardmaker symbols
- Social Narrative -Tony goes shopping, An Autism story by Valerie Sheehan
- In Store assistance from Asda
The ALF (Autism Lifeskill Friend) is a shopping trolley designed to help children and adults with autism. The aim of ALF is to improve the experience of grocery shopping for individuals with autism and to promote independence in this life skill. The ALF trolley has a fixed clipboard to which the shopper can attach their own shopping list, or they can choose to use the symbol based one provided. If using the laminated shopping list provided the shopper can also bring their own visual supports (words/symbols/photographs to attach to the list. There is a ‘finished’ compartment beneath the clipboard for the shopper to place the laminated pictures once the corresponding item has been placed in to the trolley.
ALF trolleys are currently located in a number of Supervalu stores in Ireland.
For further information please contact: Tony Donovan email@example.com
14. Food Storage
After the skills required to complete the grocery shopping are mastered the opportunity can be taken to teach correct storage of food items in the home.
- Food storage
- Video showing a successful grocery shopping trip to the grocery shop:
15. Meal Preparation
This is an essential skill for the child/ young person to master to foster greater independence and potentially independent living in future years.
This can be started off at a basic level initially for example how to butter bread or pour cereal and more complex recipes can be explored at a later date when the skill of following a recipe has been developed. Video modelling or prompting can also be used to assist or teach the child/ young person the necessary skills.
- Breakfast Cereal (object)
- Breakfast Cereal (symbol)
- Toast (symbol and word)
- Tea (symbol and word)
- Visual instructions jam instructions
- Angel delight (object)
- Cheese Omelette (symbol and word)
- Omelette recipe with visual representation of equipment and ingredients
- Scrambled Eggs (photograph and word)
- Peanut Butter Sandwich
- Healthy Eating Social Narrative
- Boardmaker Symbols
16. Chore Checklist/ Chart
To help with organisation and so the child or young person is given a choice (ensuring that they feel empowered) a checklist or chart can be used.