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Independent Living: Teaching people with developmental disorders how to live on their own

Those with developmental disorders can find certain life skills particularly challenging. Often people who struggle with day-to-day activities can also be prone to becoming frustrated or have mental health issues due to feelings of despair and helplessness. This is why, as a carer, it’s vital to teach those you care for to become independent in a hands-on way.

Grocery Shopping
Depending on the developmental disorder a person has, they might find particular aspects of grocery shopping difficult. Someone with autism for instance, might find it overwhelming to walk into a grocery store without a list or pattern to follow. They might also find the social aspect of dealing with someone at the checkout difficult. A person with a motor disorder may need to learn ways to cope with getting a trolley or using a self-service checkout.

Cooking is a daily task which can really provide a great sense of achievement or much frustration to someone with a developmental disorder. Assist them in making a meal planner and practice cooking a rotation of meals so that cooking that particular recipe becomes easier over time.

Those with developmental disorders or a disability may find it difficult to manage their money. It’s important to assist them in sticking to a budget and perhaps withdrawing cash for a specific purchase, (e.g. withdraw and then use $150 for a week’s worth of grocery shopping)

Time Management
If time management is a problem for those with developmental disorders they might find it difficult to get to appointments on time or eat three main meals per day. Use visual planners that separate their days into morning, afternoon and night and add things like ‘get ready for appointment’ so they can manage their time better.

Personal Grooming
It’s important to provide people with the opportunity to manage their own personal care. They may take a bit longer to do so, but allowing time for them to shower, shave, brush their hair and so on is important. They’ll feel better about themselves and have the confidence to do maintain their personal hygiene without too much assistance.

Community Participation
This is one of the most important activities to build a person’s engagement and self-efficacy. Encourage those being cared for to leave home and participate in a community activity – whether it is bowling, the cinema, a swimming class or attending their local art gallery. Being confident to leave the house and make new friends is essential.

If you’re passionate about helping people and want to help others build their independence, consider pursuing a career in disability work or up skilling. Check out National College Australia’s programmes to learn more.

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