HANDWASHING – TEACHING MY SON
Parent to a 5 year old with autism
Although hand washing is a series of steps, and my son is good with sequences, he had trouble with it. What helped was placing the soap bottle to the left of the faucet, and the towel to the right of the faucet. Then he could go from left to right in an order. I prompted him through the steps – get soap, turn on faucet, rinse, close faucet, dry hands on towel. We practiced this everyday, 2 to 3 times a day, with full support from me. On the 5th day, I did not prompt him to dry his hands, and he reached for the towel himself. Over the next few days, I stated fading out my support for each previous step in reverse order (called back chaining in ABA). He not only washes his hands independently, he does so even when the towel is farther away (on a rod), or if the soap is placed elsewhere. We have practiced at friends’ homes and restaurants to generalize this skill.
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