Following directions and make the child learn and follow commands are the important skills in order to accomplish various tasks, for instance, activities of daily living (ADL), academic tasks, etc., and to accommodate or get adapted to different environments like school, home, restaurants, parks, religious places, etc.
This has to be taught in a step by step manner with reinforcement and gradually it has to be graded.
Now let’s explore how can these skills be taught.
Following Directions Activities For Autistic Kids:
1. FOLLOW MONO-SYLLABLE COMMANDS:
Here we use a single word command where the child has to listen and follow.
- Ask the child to JUMP either on the trampoline or floor (depending on the child’s ability)
- Stand in one direction and call the child to reach you by using the word COME. Then, gradually move on to a different direction and call the kid. By doing this the child would be able to locate the direction of sound or vision to reach you.
- Using the command RUN for certain activities.
- During tidy up activity, ask the child to place the picked objects only on TOP of the shelf (use the word, TOP, for each object). Gradually command the child to place the picked things only at the BOTTOM of the shelf.
- Ask the child to receive the objects using only the RIGHT hand. Once the child has mastered, next ask the child to use only the LEFT hand.
- While playing ball related games, ask the child to throw the ball FORWARD or FRONT only. Gradually ask the child to throw at the BACK or BEHIND.
2. FOLLOW SIMPLE COMMANDS:
Here very simple instructions with maximum to moderate assistance are provided.
- For tidy up activity (for example), stand near the child and use gestures (here, pointing at the objects) along with the verbal command – PICK UP THE RING. Make sure the child listens to your command and then performs as per the command.
- Similarly, ask the child to TAKE THE WATER BOTTLE
- CLOSE THE DOOR
- SWITCH ON THE FAN or SWITCH IN THE LIGHT.
- SIT DOWN
- STAND UP
- WALK FORWARD
- WALK BACKWARD
Once the child has mastered the simple instructions, continue with these commands with very minimal or no assistance.
Along with this upgrade, it is also necessary that we implement the same command in a different environment and for different objects as well, in order to generalize the concept.
3. FOLLOW COMPLEX INSTRUCTION:
Even though we are trying to make the child follow a complex command, we need to make sure that a particular command is split into two to three steps for the child to achieve the task.
For example, “Packing books in a backpack”
Step 1: Point to a book and, ask the child to pick it up
Step 2: Point to the backpack and, ask the child to place the books inside
Step 3: Point to the zip and, ask the child to close the bag.
Once the child learns to follow the command using practical and fun methods, the worksheets can be provided.
The prerequisites to work with the worksheets are,
- Good sitting tolerance
- Improved attention and concentration skills
- Ability to follow the instructions
- Improved writing skills
The following directions worksheets are available for download where the child has to choose the right answer.
- Make sure the instructions are clear.
- Always move in a step-by-step manner.
- Be firm while instructing.
- If repetition required, make sure there is an adequate interval between the commands.
- Gradually decrease the assistance and make sure the child performs (certain) tasks only by command.
- Repeat and practice until the child masters.
- Generalize the concept wherever and whenever possible.