The many case studies throughout Self-Help Skills depict individuals with deficits in specific self-care tasks, and demonstrate how a coordinated and systematic approach is effective in teaching more complex skills. For example, a 12-year-old with the self-feeding skills of a toddler, who was excluded from the school cafeteria, is taught to stay at the table to eat a full meal using utensils. The book's beginning chapters explain the teaching process in detail:
- Specify the target skill to be taught after prioritizing the self-care tasks that are most important and will likely have the greatest success rate
- Use task analysis to break complex skills into a series of small steps that will later be linked together to form the more complex skill
- Apply a systematic approach to instruction that consistently employs proven methods for teaching people with autism including verbal prompting, reinforcers/rewards, chaining, graduated guidance, shaping, modeling, visual supports, etc.
- Monitor progress by collecting and analyzing data
- Modify your approach as needed to achieve the target goal
A chapter is devoted to each of the four skill areas (eating, dressing, toileting, personal hygiene) offering detailed insight and specific instruction strategies. Appendices contain forms to complete for task analyses, instructional plans, and data collection. With the information in Self-Help Skills, parents can immediately start teaching their child, or refer back to the book to fine-tune skills as their child develops.