Giving your special needs child some chores to do around the house can be beneficial not only for you as a parent (saving you time), but also for your child. Our physical therapists can recommend some chores that will help to develop fine motor skills in your child. If you need some additional tips in this area, feel free to ask during your child’s next physical therapy session. Here are several benefits that doing chores can provide your child!
1. Helps Establish Routine
Having an established routine can help a child with autism or Asperger’s a tremendous amount. Doing chores on a set schedule – often down to the exact minute – will help them to focus better and prevents them from experiencing anxiety. Many parents of children on the autism spectrum report that having a set routine helps avoid “the big meltdown.”
2. Teaches Valuable Life Skills
You might be amazed (or incredibly disheartened) to know how many students begin college without the basic life skills that can be developed from doing chores! Doing a load of laundry, picking up and putting away possessions, washing dishes and other simple household tasks are ones that your child will need for the rest of their life. Never assume that a child with special needs can’t learn these important tasks; they might just surprise you with their eagerness to learn and help out around the house!
3. Develop Fine and Gross Motor Skills
Many chores require the use of the arms and legs (gross motor skills), or careful manipulation using fingers and hand-eye coordination (fine motor skills). These are things your child may already be working on in physical therapy sessions. Hanging a shirt on a hanger, sorting the silverware properly and other chores can help develop these skills, and in many cases, even help create neural connections that can help with your child’s development as he or she grows.
4. Empathy & Stronger Bonds With Pets
A lot of the current research has found that owning a pet can be a tremendous help for a child with special needs. Chores related to feeding, watering, bathing and caring for a pet can help teach your child empathy and strengthen their relationship with the pet. This in turn improves the child’s skills working with and establishing bonds with other people. Be sure to give lots of praise to help reinforce this. “Look at how happy Fido is because you fed him!”
5. Helps Them Understand Money
Paying your special needs child for doing chores is a way to help them understand money. A good method is to pay them immediately for doing chores and then set a time each week when you take them to the toy store to purchase something for themselves. This helps establish the relationship between work, payment and purchasing.
6. It Benefits the Family
If your special needs child has siblings, all of your children will benefit from chores. Everyone can see that each person contributes to making the household run smoothly by doing chores that are appropriate to their age and skill level. Also, no one will feel jealous if every child has their own chores that they are responsible for doing. Most children, including special needs children, want to help mom and dad around the house, so assigning them chores can give them a sense of responsibility and accomplishment.
These are just a few ways that chores can benefit your special needs child. If you want to add physical therapy to your special needs child’s routine to help with their development as well, contact Libre Physical Therapy in Homestead, FL, today to schedule an appointment!