Tiffany Crow, behavior analysis graduate student and special education teacher shares this excellent review of a research article by K. L. Pierce L. Schreibman from the Journal of Applied Beahvior Analysis (27, 471-485). Teaching daily living skills to children with autism in unsupervised settings through pictorial self-management
Daily self-management and independence are skills that most parents strive to teach their children. Self-management skills could allow a child to function independent of a care giver, for daily tasks such as grooming, meal preparations, cleaning, possibly have a job in the community or participating in group activities. Children with disabilities are at higher risk in that they do not as often obtain such a level of independence in self-management skills. Photographic picture schedules have been successful in the past in teaching children with autism independence. The current research article specifically targets children with autism to increase their independence of daily living skills through the use of pictures in the absence of a trainer/caregiver. There were 3 participants in this study, all boys that were diagnosed with autism and attended a classroom for children with disabilities. A task analysis (steps of a task) was created for each of the 3 tasks and picture prompts were created to depict each step in the analysis. Each step of the analysis was placed on an individual page and made into a book. The participant had to flip through each page, complete the step on that page until the total task was completed. On the last page of the task book there was a smiley face indicating to the participant that they could self-reinforce (give themselves a reward). Upon independent performance of each of these skills the experimenter then began to fade themselves out of the environment by standing further distances away and eventually out of the room while the participant completed the task analysis and self-reinforcement. The participants in this study were categorized as low-functioning children with autism and the procedures used in this experiment proved to be effective in independent self-management skills without the presence of a care giver for every participant.