So what are life skills? A question I asked when I was first told Amy would be doing just that. A little doubtful at first, until I actually realised how valuable they would be in her learning. Of course we all have to learn about life in one way or another, but for some it is so much more difficult. I speak only for Amy when I say her autism prevents her from having a full understanding of real life. I know this is the case for most people on the autism spectrum, but each case is different; some are more severe than others, and some may never learn about real life due to the severity of their condition. It has never been officially said, but I would agree that Amy could be high functioning; she has a large vocabulary, excels in certain subjects like maths and English, has good eye contact. She is doing well academically, but her social skills are not so great; if she wasn't as big as she is, she could be mistaken for a child of aged 6 or 7. But we're working on it.
There are certain subjects in which Amy finds difficult to digest information, her concentration levels will prevent her from understanding. However much she tries. The slightest disturbance will attract her attention and she will be unable to return to the job in hand. Reasons why she has a support worker. I have said it so many times, probably to everyone I know, that the support is helping Amy tremendously and without it, she most certainly would not be doing as well in school as she is currently doing. The subjects in which Amy finds most difficult will be cut from her curriculum, this may only be for an hour a week, it could be for two. Of course these won't be primary subjects such as maths and English. In their place Amy will do various activities which will enable her to become more accustomed with every day life such as going to the shops and dealing with money, walking in a town and looking for pedestrian crossings, basic food preparation, making phone calls, experiencing age appropriate activities in which she finds difficult. Amy tells me and everyone that we must not talk to strangers, yet she talks to everyone she meets. She asks them how old they are, what their name is, where they live, do they have brothers or sisters. She cares not about who they are. She just assumes she is being friendly.
She can find her way around the Internet, switches the computer on and starts to type a letter on Word, prints out pictures of interest to her; her current interests being desserts and pyramids. I have an office full of loose sheets of A4 with a picture of a cactus or a pyramid. "Look what I printed off," she says, excitedly. "How many times have I told you to ask me first?" I say, for the hundredth time, before agreeing that her picture is very good so as not to disappoint her mood. But it makes no difference. She just does it anyway. Just like so many things on a daily basis. She has a mind of her own. I wish I could get inside it one day.