Should I give my child with autism chores?

Chantal Sicile-Kira
Mental Retardation & Developmental Disabilities
Chores are beneficial for children with autism. Chores teach responsibility to all children, including those with autism. At any age, it’s good to teach children with autism that being part of a group (whether it is a family, a work group, or a community) brings with it a certain level of responsibility.

If your child has somehow been exempt from chores and group responsibility, make sure that as a teen, she takes responsibility. She must learn that living in a house with other people entails responsibilities as well as pleasures. Chores teach the a person to be responsible for herself and to live independently. Chores foster self-worth and self-esteem. All individuals with autism can be taught to contribute at some level. Make sure your child has opportunities to do so.
William Stillman
Health Education

You should most definitely give your child with autism chores. Regardless of where he falls on the autism spectrum, his diagnosis is not a "free pass" to abstain from being a contributing member of your household. As a parent, you have the right to expect your child to be a full participant and that means instilling in him the satisfaction and responsibility of doing his share---the same as you would for a "neuro-typical" child.

Chores should be along the line of what is fair and reasonable for any peer of your child's chronological age group. The desired chore(s) will need to be demonstrated, perhaps multiple times, as well as reminded (a posted visual schedule would help). Typical such chores may include: clearing the table; feeding the family pet; cleaning your room; making your bed; collecting clean or dirty laundry; putting out the trash; etc.

An allowance may or may not be a motivator as much as, say, extra, earned computer time. If your child resists or fails to complete his assigned chores, it is also your right as a parent to impose fair discipline in the form of pre-agreed written consequences that would be typical of your child's peer group.

It matters not whether or not your child speaks or his purported "functioning level." All children want to feel pride in contributing---giving back something of value. Your child with autism is no different.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.