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How to Instruct a Student with Autism on Handwashing

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How to teach or instruct a student with autism in the proper hand washing techniques.

Hand washing is a crucial talent for everyone to acquire. A student on the Autism spectrum might not comprehend the significance or even the procedure of hand washing and because of this, instruction could be a bit more challenging. This article summarizes a single approach toward educating students with Autism in the art of hand washing.

Begin the lesson by recognizing the fundamental steps of the hand washing process. This cognitive process makes up what has become known as task analysis. To view a completed task analysis, one could search online or an individual may produce their own task analysis. A good example of a task analysis of hand washing would incorporate the following steps:

Turn On the Water

Place Hands in the Water

Apply Soap to Hands

Rub Hands Together

Rinse Hands with Water

Turn off Water

Get Paper Towel

Dry Hands

Throw Away Paper Towel

Create a data collection sheet. Write the steps of the task analysis and add a row of small boxes next to each step. This type of data collection paper can be easily made in a word processing program. Record the success or non-success of each step in these boxes. Have each column represent the process of washing the hands one time.

Watch the pupil endeavor to wash his hands by himself. Document how the student washes his hands without any assistance during each step of the procedure. Use a positive symbol (+) to indicate a correct response and a negative symbol (-) to indicate an incorrect response.

Whenever the student can complete several of the steps without assistance, all that is needed then is to use prompts for the nonexistent or erroneous steps. This can be achieved by applying gentle physical prompts to direct the student's hands to complete the appropriate steps. Be sure to offer praise and a reward following the correct completion of each of the steps.

If the student can execute few or none of the steps unaided, then the instructor will need to prompt him through all of the non-independent steps. Bestow praise and give the student a reinforcement reward at the culmination of all of the steps.

Bit by bit set out to diminish the prompts for the final step or for any of the steps that the students has already acquired. A good example would be whenever the instructor had held the student's hands in order to direct the movement. To fade this prompt, begin by lightly holding the student's wrists to direct the movement instead. This allows the student to complete the target action more independently. Step by step guide the movement with a fainter and softer touch. Only prompt the last non-independent step at one time. As that task becomes independent, then move on to the next step that the student is unable to execute by himself and continue on until he can complete all of the steps needed to independently wash his hands.


Annette Palmer
Posted on Jun 1, 2011
gerrie grimsley
Posted on May 31, 2011
Posted on May 31, 2011

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Choya Brown

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