Autism is often referred to as ASD, Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is not one, but a range of disorders. Consequently, each individual who has autism has different levels of sensory sensitivity to one another.
The National Autistic Society has provided some helpful tips for those who would like to introduce self-care goals to an autistic person’s routine. In this blog, we aim to share these.
Why Have Goals?
Setting goals, whether big or small, can act as a motivational tool. It is a way to make changes accessible by implementing little lifestyle habits.
Having goals can open up the opportunity to feel a sense of independence in certain aspects of our lives as they may offer us a sense of control. Lots of small goals over time have the potential to lead to changes beyond what we could have ever imagined from the initial journey we set ourselves.
Introducing Self-Care Goals
It is understood that adults who have autism can find the skill of organisation challenging. By using prompts and breaking down tasks to manageable steps, it can help introduce tasks to someone who has an autism as a priority.
This could be things such as :
• Getting dressed
• Brushing teeth
• Brushing hair
Keep Steps Small and Achievable
This is a method which the National Autistic Society has recommended. It is the process which teaches a skill in manageable steps. By breaking down a simple activity, it can help achieve the overall aim.
For example, brushing your teeth:
• First, take the toothbrush
• Next, rinse the toothbrush with a little bit of water (this step may be an area of debate!)
• Then put a ‘pea-size’ amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush
• Then a drop of water (Again, debatable!)
Again, this is suggested by the National Autistic Society. This implements the steps of the task by working from the last step backwards.
Maintain a ‘Sensory Record’
As you try to introduce small goals, it is recommended to keep a diary of the reactions caused by certain tasks or scenarios. By taking note of these occurrences, the process can be reviewed and adapted in the future to accommodate the triggers of unease and uncertainty discovered by these records. Our blog 8 Receptive Toys to Aid Autism may offer some ideas on how to help ease some symptoms of anxiety for those who have autism.
An excellent way to implement things, especially to children, is to use illustrations. By leaving pictures as reminders, it may prompt them to follow the procedure displayed. For example, the National Autistic Society has suggested putting a diagram, or list, in the bathroom which demonstrates the steps when brushing teeth. You can use pictures found online or create your own!
The National Autistic Society suggests that using a mixture of physical, gestural and verbal prompts can help people remember the order they need to accomplish the breakdown of tasks.
As the name suggests, this form of prompt is to accompany the person as you complete the activity.
For example, holding the toothbrush together and squeezing toothpaste onto it.
This is where you can pretend to do the task to prompt them to follow through with the action.
For example, miming brushing your teeth as they brush their teeth in real life.
This is when you remind the person of the next step by saying it to them.
For example, ‘rinse the toothbrush and put it in the holder.’
In order to help schedule these priorities, providing a calendar is a handy tool for people to refer to and act as a reminder.
To encourage people to achieve their goals, you need to keep it motivational! One of the more successful ways of doing this is through praise. No matter what the task, even if it may seem very minimum, an achievement is an achievement and should be received with lots of praise.
By knowing what the person appreciates, you can make the encouragement purposeful to the individual. This may be through verbal praise or a small gift, for example!
If there is ever a decline in looking after oneself, this could be a sign of some underlying issues concerning their mental health. This could be anything from anxiety or depression to forms of OCD.
If you feel this may be the case, the National Autistic Society recommends contacting the Autism Helpline, where they can direct you further on the most suitable procedures to take.
Autism Helpline Number: 0808 800 4104
They are available:
• Monday to Thursday 10 am-4 pm
• Friday 9 am-3 pm
Hopefully, the tips mentioned in this blog will offer some helpful pointers in accomplishing self-care goals! If you have any other recommendations, we would love to hear about them on our social media channels!
Here at Calvert Trust Exmoor, we love to encourage all our guests to achieve their ambitions and intend to help those who want to set goals while staying with us.
We provide daily timetables to ensure there is a set routine for our guests. We also encourage the use of our social areas, where guests can meet and support one another before and after sessions. We have great pride in all our professionally certified instructors, who encourage independence when supervising activities by using physical, gestural and verbal prompts.
If you would like more information about the Devon activity breaks we offer and are interested in booking a holiday with us, please feel free to contact us on 01598 763221 or e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.