Like every parent does, you want your child to learn the value of responsibility. While disabilities may impede a youngster from participating in a lot of household chores, many children with special needs are more than capable of helping out and will benefit substantially from the praise and positive reinforcement offered by the experience.
1 Create a realistic chore list your youngster is capable of performing. If you're currently unsure of the extent of your child's abilities, get him to help you out with chores you're considering assigning and see how he progresses through them. This will help you make your final list, tailored to suit his abilities and needs.
2 Consider your child's attention span. Some children with mental disorders have a significantly difficult time focusing on instructions. If your youngster has a hard time following through a string of instructions, keep it simple. For example, cleaning his room may be an overwhelming task if he can't process the task in his head. Instead, have him pick up his toys, put his clothes in the laundry hamper and then help you make his bed.
3 Make a large grid on a piece of poster board. Make one horizontal line for each chore and one vertical line for each day of the week as well as one wide space to write the chore. Leave a large blank space at the bottom for reward information.
4 Draw or glue pictures in the chore spaces. If your youngster has visual difficulties, make the pictures simple, bright and big. Make each chore a different color. For example, draw a picture of toys on the floor with a green marker and a picture of a laundry basket with a blue marker. This helps your child learn to associate the chore with the color, thus providing a visual connection between the chart and the chore.
5 Attach the chore chart to the refrigerator. Use some magnets around the outer edges to keep it in place.
6 Find some magnets with pictures of rewards, such as a particular toy, an ice cream cone to symbolize a trip to the ice cream shop, or a movie cover to symbolize some extra television time.
7 Help your child get started on his regular chores and then put a magnet up on the corresponding day of the week to show off his accomplishment. When you reach the end of the day or the end of the week, let him cash in those magnets for his reward.
Items you will need
- Poster board
- Chore pictures or markers
- Picture magnets
- Easy to Love but Hard to Raise: Real Parents, Challenging Kids, True Stories; Kay Marner et al.
- The Self-Help Guide for Special Kids and Their Parents; Joan Matthews et al.
- Amos Morgan/Photodisc/Getty Images