Thursday, August 4, 2011

"How To" Life Skills Videos

As Gess is getting older we are really working on teaching her important life skills to foster her independence by focusing on things from household work like washing dishes and making her bed to personal hygiene, which not only includes things like brushing her teeth, but how to shower and wash her own hair. Yes, children with special needs have trouble doing these basic things.

With Gess being a visual learner I have discovered a really neat resource for helping her learn some of these skills. It's called YouTube. We all know about YouTube and when we think of that website we generally think of silly videos that get thousands of hits, or consider it a place to catch the latest music video or clip from a TV show. Well, I have found a better purpose for this site: learning life skills!

Gess was really struggling making her bed. I showed her how to do it, but every time she had to make her bed, she would shut down and say "I can't." I do not remember what prompted me to look up a video but one day I just googled "how to make your bed video" and there it was!

How to Make a Bed -- powered by ehow

So Gess came and watched the video with me, and suddenly she was anxious to try it on her own. Each day, when it was time to make her bed we would watch the video, then she would try. Eventually she got really good at it. The only thing she did wrong was put her blanket sideways, but she is still small enough to fit under it anyway, so we just left it (though now she even does that right sometimes). After a few weeks I quit letting her watch the video (even though she begged to watch it first) and she still did great . I am not sure why watching ME make my bed every day was not enough, but hey, if this entices her to do it, I am all about that.

Our most recent issue has been showering alone. Gess has really had issues with splashing water and never liked the feel of a shower nor did she care to put her head in the water to wash her hair when taking a bath. It was a struggle to get her to let me do it, there was no way she was doing it alone. However, this year she made some great progress with her swimming lessons (thanks to her absolutely wonderful instructor Chelsie Ports). Now she not only lets water splash on her but she enjoys going under the water and does it all of her own accord! So I am using that to my advantage and teaching Gess how to shower.

The biggest problem with her bathing independently has been washing her hair. Part of it is her lack of motor skills, she just doesn't rub shampoo in very well but she also has trouble getting the back of her head done as well. So I thought, maybe "seeing" someone wash their hair might help. So back to Google I went and I found a video for "how to wash your hair." I really emphasized how she puts her whole head under the water. The video was also great for teaching her how much shampoo to use and exactly how to rub her head, etc. (Warning! I only recommend this video for girls, as it shows a woman in a silky nightgown preparing to shower and there shots of her bare-back etc.)

I am sure there are many other great videos out there as well. Between EHow and Howcast they have about 10,000 videos!

Of course to teach younger kids more basic skills there are better, less grown up resources. I have previously blogged about Crawford the Cat whose videos helped Gess to learn to wash her hands, brush her teeth, put her toys away, exercise, and use table manners among other things. These also have coloring pages to go with them.

There must be tons of resources for helping older, special needs kids learn necessary life skills. These are just some that Gess has really enjoyed. They may look silly to me, but she just loves them and the best part is, they work!

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