Daily Living Skills
Daily living skills are those skills that are needed for an individual to be healthy, safe, and functional. Being able to complete these skills independently is important for the growth and development of children.
Daily living skills can be categorized into the following:
Activities of daily living (ADL’s) – These include basic self-care activities such as feeding, grooming, toileting, dressing, and general hygiene.
Instrumental activities of daily living (IADL’s) – These include more complex skills that are needed to be successful to live independently. Examples include: chores around the house, preparing meals, using the phone, using public transportation, homework completion skills, etc.
Occupational therapists are trained to assist children in developing the necessary skills to complete activities that support their daily functioning and participation. Depending on a child’s particular diagnosis or functional deficits, a variety of interventions might be used to support their performance and participation in daily activities. Typically, teaching these skills will require more than just stating the steps of what needs to be done; repeated modelling, use of visuals to promote memory and sequencing, and other compensatory methods (e.g. adaptive equipment, modifying the task) may all be utilized to ensure children can perform daily tasks to the best of their abilities.
In addition, daily living skills may be addressed in applied behavior analysis (ABA) through the use of task analysis and chaining. A task analysis is a comprehensive list of steps needed to complete an activity (i.e. listing all the steps in hand-washing or in making a sandwich). Once the steps have been established, determining how the skills will be taught (chaining) is decided based on the individual’s current level of ability. The skill set may be taught start to finish (forward chaining), or the end steps taught first (backward chaining), or all at once.