By Kala Rani Naidu & Nuramirah Ismail
Self-help is defined as the action or process of improving oneself or conquering one’s difficulties without the assistance of others. Self-help skills allow youngsters to fulfil their own needs daily while also engaging in activities and behaviour that eventually lead to independence. They are frequently referred to as “everyday life activities” (ADL).
Self-help skills are one of the earliest ways that children learn to plan and sequence task performance, arrange resources, and develop the sophisticated bodily control required to carry out everyday activities. Children with disabilities find these skills difficult to perform due to a lack of intellectual and adaptive functioning.
Developmental delays caused by physical, mental, emotional, or behavioural restrictions make it difficult for a child with special needs to complete self-care activities without assistance. When this happens, an occupational therapist’s services are frequently sought, but you may aid your kid outside of treatment by promoting improvement via positive and repeated behaviour.
It is important that these children acquire these skills because being independent in self-care will not only take a lot of burden off the caregivers but also boost their self-esteem and eventually increase their capacity to face difficult situations with confidence.
Hence, it is pertinent to inculcate self-help skills lessons for students with disabilities.
The term “self-help” usually refers to the following areas of independent behaviour
- Self-feeding and drinking
Skills may include holding and using utensils properly, drinking without spilling, eating a variety of food, table manners and other mealtime routines. Children need plenty of time to practice. Let them be as independent as possible during mealtimes. Encourage them to try for themselves but provide help and encouragement when needed, so they do not get frustrated.
- Independent dressing and grooming
This area includes skills such as brushing hair and dressing (e.g., selecting clothing, putting clothes on and off and managing fasteners). Begin by encouraging them to help pull socks on and off, pull up pants after diapering and help put their arms through sleeves.
- Personal hygiene and toileting
Skills include those such as bathing, brushing teeth, washing hair, managing clothing, cleaning oneself, as well as overall bowel and bladder management. Look for signs of readiness for toileting. Be ready to provide support and help if they need it. Encouraging children to take care of everyday hygiene routines frees up caregiver’s time to help children with other activities.
- Helping with daily chores like table setting and picking up toys
Encourage children to begin clearing their own plates. Request children to be your “helper” during routine chores and let them perform simple tasks.
There are various benefits of developing self-help skills. Listed below are the different abilities that they will master.
- The use of expressive and receptive language to convey wants and needs through voice, sign, or alternative modes of communication. This helps a child to follow and comprehend directions that necessitate understanding what task is involved, the resources required, and then carrying out the task. It would also improve one’s ability to follow and adhere to basic regimens.
- Integration of social skills through the capacity to communicate with others (verbally or nonverbally), negotiate with others, and identify and obey social standards.
- The significance of fine motor abilities, which include hand and finger strength. Many common tasks, such as opening lunch boxes, tying shoelaces, putting up buttons, and using utensils and equipment for functional task performance, need these skills.
- The requirement for gross motor abilities includes whole-body physical skills using the ‘core’ strong muscles of the trunk, arms, and legs, such as standing to dress and getting on and off the toilet.
- Cognitive abilities entail the ability to think to acquire new tasks and remember information for the next time the task is performed.
- If there is less dependency on an adult helper, behavioural concerns may be addressed. A kid may become used to self-care abilities. When a helper is not there, it is easier to deal with behavioural difficulties.
Based on the explanation above, it is clear that self-help skills are worth the time and effort. The key to success is to offer children with experiences and the necessary support to help them succeed. Caregivers may provide chances for children to acquire self-help abilities while also providing sufficient time for them to work on these vital activities. Adults serve as essential role models for children. Children learn a great deal from watching us.
* The techniques to be adopted will be shared in the upcoming write-up