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Teaching children with Autism to follow simple directions is an important skill for them to learn. The ability to follow simple directions allows opportunities for your child to gain independence, regulation skills, communication skills, productivity in daily routine tasks, and practice gross motor and fine motor skills. Having these skills are important in school environments, home, and other natural settings. Children can gain the ability to follow simple directions to:
These skills improve the daily life of children and make your life much easier as well.
Teaching children with Autism to follow simple directions is progressive and may require greater reinforcement in the beginning. There are many ways to make following directions into a fun, rewarding activity! In teaching children, consistency is important.
Following Single Verb Commands
A goal set for a child may be to follow single verb commands. Hearing one-step commands and producing the appropriate action is an important skill for children to gain. Teaching this skill is best done one-on-one with no distractions around.
*Using non-verbal imitation as a prompt each time a new command is introduced may be helpful. For example, when prompting “jump,” jump as you say the command.
Here’s a link to the lesson to follow along!
Following Compound Verb Commands
A goal set for a child may be to follow compound verb commands. Following a multi-step string of actions allows children to learn greater independence and increased productivity. Teaching this skill is best done one-on-one with no distractions around.
Following Single Directions Away From Seat
A goal set for a child may be to follow single directions away from their seat. Following single directions away from the seat is a big step in a child gaining greater independence. Teaching this skill is best done one-on-one with no distractions around.
Following Compound Directions Away From Seat
A goal set for a child may be to follow compound directions away from their seat and at a distance from the instructor. Following compound directions away from their seat is a complex skill that can help children gain more independence. Teaching this skill is best done one-on-one with no distractions around.
“Teacher Says” Game
As a child masters various commands, “Teacher Says” is a fun way to reinforce their new skills. “Teacher Says” is just like “Simon Says.” You can choose to give directions or use fun stuffed animals or toys to “speak” the command. This game can be used at any level, using any level of commands the child is successful in responding to.
In general, when teaching your child to follow simple directions have patience with your child, and with yourself! For some children these skills will take time to develop and a lot of repetition. But do know that as a result your child will gain more independence and skill regulation and this will make life easier for everyone.
Chloe Fay is from Northborough, MA. She is currently an undergraduate student at Lesley University majoring in Special Education and Child, Youth, and Family Services. Chloe aspires to work with children with Autism in an educational setting.