Home » Pro » Reflections on Applied Behavior Analysis » Life Skills for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

with Heather Gilmore, MSW, LLMSW, BCBA

Life Skills for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Children with autism spectrum disorder may struggle with developing life skills. Here are some strategies and tips on how to help youth with autism develop these important skills.

  • Start early
    • Whether your child is delayed in the area of developing life skills or whether he or she is on target, it is important to start now. Starting earlier helps the child to have more opportunity to gain the skills needed for adulthood.
  • Make routines
    • Using routines for daily activities can help children learn life skills. For instance, create a regular morning routine. You can use a checklist or visual schedule which are useful tools when teaching a series of tasks or behaviors.

  • Break down difficult tasks into a task analysis
    • If the child struggles with a particular skills, such as packing his bag for school, you can break the skill into specific tasks, and put this in it’s own checklist or visual schedule.
  • Consider the many different areas of life skills such as:

There are so many various life skills that adolescents should know. Here is a document that presents many more skills that teens should develop.

Here is an example for breaking a task into a task analysis from Talk About Curing Autism:

Breaking Down a Task – Washing Your Hands

  • Turn on faucet
  • Place hands under water
  • Pump liquid soap into one hand
  • Rub hands together
  • Rub backs of hands
  • Rinse hands under water until soap is gone
  • Turn water off
  • Dry hands on towel


Autism Speaks

Talk About Curing Autism

Shasta Twenty-First Century Career Connections

Life Skills for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder

APA Reference
Gilmore, H. (2017). Life Skills for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 27, 2019, from