Whether you’re the parent, caregiver, or teacher of a child with autism, your main goal is finding ways to help your little one reach his or her maximum level of independence, and in the face of attention, communication, organization, and self-regulation issues (to name a few), this isn’t always an easy task. Figuring out how to teach a child executive functioning, practical living, and self-care skills can seem completely overwhelming when a child struggles with very basic vocational skills like sorting and matching, but there are systematic solutions available to help guide you in the right direction. And task boxes for autism are a great place to start!
What is a task box?
Simply put, a task box is a container – or box – that contains all of the materials needed to teach a child a certain task or skill. Since individuals with autism tend to be visual learners who thrive on routine and order, task boxes offer an effective strategy to teach and build upon important life skills. By providing a schedule of tasks for each activity, and listing them in the order that they ned to be completed, task boxes for autism provide a structured way for children to learn independently. Tasks boxes can be as simple or complex as needed, making them an excellent learning tool for all stages of development.
What are the benefits of task boxes for kids with autism?
- Promotes independence. Since children with autism are typically dependent on parents, caregivers, therapists, and teachers, task boxes help foster independence by helping them work on their own successfully.
- Reduces the need for verbal instruction.
- Teaches a wide variety of skills needed for daily living, such as sorting, sequencing, matching, zipping, buttoning, lacing, coloring, drawing, writing, letter and number recognition, object identification, and following directions.
- Can be tailored to individual treatment plans.
- Provides an easy learning experience. By providing a visual, single-unit task that is broken down into small steps that can be completed independently, task boxes for autism work well with children who are easily distracted.
- Suitable for all ages. You can increase the complexity of task boxes by adding additional steps and making the tasks more interactive (i.e. going out into the community).
- Boosts self-esteem. Since the main goal of task boxes for autism is to teach a child how to follow a schedule of events to complete a task while also encouraging independence, the activities are intended to be challenging, but not too difficult. You want the child to be successful so he or she feels confident in his or her abilities!
How can I make my own task boxes for autism?
While it is possible to buy pre-made task boxes for autism, making your own allows for greater customization based on your child’s treatment plan, and they are surprisingly easy to make. All you need to get started are:
And then comes the fun part!
What should I include in my task boxes?
Once you have your task boxes ready to fill and label, the next step is to determine what task(s) you want to teach so you can gather your supplies and write up a list of the steps needed to complete the activity. Remember that each task box should have a definite beginning, middle, and end, and should focus on one skill at a time.
30+ task box ideas we love
Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest and the generosity of all of the teachers and therapists who share their teaching tools and tips each day, the internet is filled with lots of DIY task boxes for autism you can replicate yourself or purchase for a small price. Here are over 30 ideas we love!
Sorting Task Boxes
These are perhaps the easiest task boxes to set-up, and can be done using simple props you already have on hand, like pom poms, colored popsicle sticks, magnetic letters, colored marbles, etc. Check out this collection of sorting task box ideas on Creating and Teaching for some wonderful inspiration!
Fine Motor Task Boxes
There are heaps of ways you can help your child develop his fine motor skills using things like Q-tips, pipe cleaners, clothespins, pom poms, tweezers, paper clips, and beads. Here are some great ideas to get your creative juices flowing!
Ice Cream Math | Fun-A-Day
Q-tip Sight Word Freebie | Teachers Pay Teachers
Pony Beads Patter Task Cards | Teachers Pay Teachers
Counting Beads on Pipe Cleaners | Laughing Kids Learn
Missing Letters Chopsticks | Teach Me Mommy
Popsicle Stick Busy Bag | Keeping My Kiddo and Kinders Busy
This locks and latches activity board by Melissa and Doug is another great idea for developing fine motor skills!
Assembly Task Boxes
Work task boxes that require your child to assemble items together in a pre-determined way offers a great way to build their patterning skills, which are a pre-requisite to developing their reading and math skills. You can start with simpler, 2-sequence items, like these Learning Resources Smart Snacks Alpha Pops and these Learning Resources Smart Snacks Number Pops, and then move to something more complex like this Learning Resources Beads and Pattern Card Set, which includes 20 different activity cards! These LEGO Classic Quad Packs are another simple way to work on assembly with your little one!
Life Skills Task Boxes
If you’re looking for activities to teach your child important life skills like buying and putting groceries away, packing lunches, healthy eating, clothing and laundry, telling time, and managing money, the website Teachers Pay Teachers offers all kinds of task cards and task boxes you can purchase inexpensively, print, laminate, and use over and over again with your child. Here are some ideas to get your started:
How Many Dollars? | Teachers Pay Teachers
Counting Change Task Cards | Teachers Pay Teachers
Telling Time Task Box | Teachers Pay Teachers
Packing Lunches Task Box | Teachers Pay Teachers
Shopping List Work Task | Teachers Pay Teachers
Put the Groceries Away Task Box | Teachers Pay Teachers
Clothing & Laundry Life Skill File Folder | Teachers Pay Teachers
Same or Different Task Box | Teachers Pay Teachers
Conversation Questions Task Box Activity | Teachers Pay Teachers
All About Healthy Foods | Teachers Pay Teachers
Dressing for the Seasons | Teachers Pay Teachers
Life Skills Sequencing Mats | Teachers Pay Teachers
Reading Task Boxes
Task boxes offer a fabulous and inexpensive hands-off approach to teaching kids letter recognition, sight words, and how to sound out different letter combinations in preparation for reading. Here are a few of our favorite reading task boxes for autism!
Little Spelling Box | Teach me Mommy
Using nothing but a soap box and foam letters, this activity is a great way to teach your kids at home and while you’re on the go!
Build a Sight Word | The Printable Princess
If your kids like building with building blocks and LEGO, this sight word activity will be a real hit. All you need is a set of Dimple Large Building Blocks and a sharpie, and you’re set!
Alphabet Clip Cards | Happy Brown House
These cards are free. All you need is a set of clothespins and a printer!
Beginning Sounds Tasks | Teachers Pay Teachers
All you need for this task box for autism is a printer, laminator, and velcro!
Math Task Boxes
Connect Links Addition Task Cards | Teachers Pay Teachers
When it comes to math task boxes, there are so many things you can do with simple plastic links, and these task cards will give you some amazing inspiration!
Ring Bead Counting | Child Care Land
Who knew book rings and pony beads could make such a fun math activity?
Counting French Fries Fast Food Math Work Task | Teachers Pay Teachers
This is a great pre-vocational or simple counting task to get kids excited about numbers!
Subtraction Smash | Recipe for Teaching
This math exercise doubles as a great sensory activity. All you need is a tub of playdoh!
By promoting independence, reducing the need for verbal instruction, and boosting self-esteem, task boxes for autism can be tailored to individual treatment plans to teach a wide variety of skills needed to develop executive functioning, practical living, and self-care skills as children with autism grow.
Frank Zappa once said, ‘Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.’
I hope these task boxes for autism help you think outside the box and find ways to help your child reach his fullest potential.
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