Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Generalization of Skills - Can They Do It?

Over the course of a student evaluation, I often get information from parents and teachers about what a child can and cannot do. This data may cover academic abilities, or life skills such as independent dressing, social skills, or safety information. Sometimes it's difficult to get a good picture of what the child has actually accomplished.

Gathering your own information (or to share with others):
The child can do the task, such as making a bed, if it is done independently without reminders. If you have to give prompts, indicate how many times, or if you need to supervise or help with the chore. Don't guess--if you haven't seen it happen, we need to assume that's an area of need.

How can you tell if the youngster has something mastered? We look for skill generalization. In other words, can the same task be accomplished in multiple environments?

For example, a young man with an autism spectrum disorder recently wanted to make a request of me. He approached me, shook my hand, and made his request in an impressively polite manner. He gave very good reasons for the expression of his need, and thanked me for my time. I would say that teen has mastered greetings, self-advocacy, and conversational skills. He did this independently without prompting.

Another young lady can greet others appropriately in the school setting, but requires prompts in other areas. She has not yet mastered this skill, but prompts can be removed, or faded, over time to increase her independence.

Try tracking some basic life skills, including social skills, to celebrate accomplishments and identify areas of need. You can find a list of age-appropriate behaviors here.