As I push my 9 year old son with Autism to become more independent (and watch him WANTING to be more independent, even being rebellious at times), he (and and his younger sister) both have a list of chores that they need to get done each day. Most of them aren’t a big deal, but it’s important that they do them.
His easy chores include: Opening the blinds each morning and closing the blinds each evening.
The tougher chores are: Setting the dinner table, cleaning off the dinner table, doing the laundry (when there IS laundry) and doing his homework.
The toughest chore for him to get was making his bed. You probably don’t think about it much yourself but making your bed is a PROCESS. Fitted sheet, flat sheet, blanket, comforter, pillow…how does all this stuff go together? Aiden struggled at first. And there are Autism resource books that show ways to break down these types of tasks because they CAN be quite difficult to master.
My son and I started with us making the bed together, him on one side and me on the other. We’ve reached a point where I get things set at the foot of the bed and leave the rest to him and he gets it done. We’re not talking hospital corners here (like his sister) but good enough for a 9 year old boy to call that chore DONE. And since it’s on “the list”, I don’t even need to remind him very much anymore.
Today, as I was sitting on the couch chatting with my mom who is visiting, the beeper for the washing machine went off. My son got up and brought out a set of clean sheets. He usually just dumps them on the couch for me to fold. Since we were sitting on the couch and they are MY sheets, I told Aiden just to throw them on my bed. He did. And my mom said, dumbfounded, “Is he doing the laundry!?”
“Yep. That’s one of his chores.”
My son proceeded to move the wet clothes out of the washer, into the dryer and start the dryer. Then he went back to whatever he had been doing. (I put the clothes in the washer to start the process.)
Later that night, long after my kids had gone to bed, my mom and I decided to turn in. I walked into my room and found that my son had put the fitted sheet onto my bed and put the pillow cases on the pillows. The flat sheet was thrown over the top. And the comforter was still where I left it. I NEVER ask him to make the bed like this. I only expected him to make a bed that is mostly put together and has just been slept in.
Once again, my son has shown me that he is capable of more. And these are the moments when I say to myself, “YES! He IS going to figure this stuff out. We’ve just got to keep pushing him.”