Recreation and leisure activates key component - support for students growth center

Recreation and leisure activities are key components of community participation, but daily living skills such as cooking, hygiene, travel/mobility, money management and health care are also necessary for successful everyday functioning.

In my classroom we work on a functional life skills curriculum. This means that every lesson incorporates some form of necessary life skill for everyday living. For instance, if I want to teach my students math we may set up an area of the classroom like a grocery store. My students will be given fake money (it looks very similar to real money), they will find items from a picture/word list, and then purchase said items. They need to make sure that they have enough money to purchase the items on the list. He students love this lesson because it seems more like a game. Another math lesson I do is incorporated into cooking instruction. One day we made tacos. The students needed to count all of the shells to make sure there were at least two per student. Then, they needed to measure and/or weigh all of the ingredients. After making the meat mixture, they needed to properly divide it among all of the taco shells.

There are many ways of incorporating functional life skills into academic lesson plans. I believe that all of the skills worked on in the classroom are only effective if they are reinforced at home.

Nutrition Needs

Children with autism have many nutritional needs in their daily lives. Educators need to know what types foods they are able to have in the case that there is a holiday party or birthday in the classroom. These children also may have sensitivities to certain food textures and odors. It is good to be aware of these issues.

Understanding the autism diet is crucial to the health and healing of children with autism. “There are six main diets to consider when researching this area of science: Gluten-Free, Casein-Free (GFCF), Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), Feingold Diet, Body Ecology Diet, Low Oxalate Diet/Phenols, and Weston A. Price (Matthews, 2011). These diets have significant health benefits for children with autism.

The Gluten-Free Casein-Free diet can help children with autism find relief from “gastrointestinal tract abnormalities as well as the clearing up of rashes and eczema” (Matthews, 2011). It is important to effectively follow the diet to see improvements.

The Specific Carbohydrate Diet can regulate the digestive system as well as remove bacteria that can cause “gut bugs” (Matthews, 2011).

The Feingold Diet can reduce the build up of phenols that have an affect on behavior. This diet can also reduce phenol sensitive reactions.

The Low Oxalate Diet lowers the amount of oxalate crystals in the body. Oxalate crystals can cause kidney stones and other forms of inflammation and pain. Using this diet can produce significant results in lowering the amount of crystals in the body.

Body Ecology Diet is a treatment to reduce the amount of yeast. It allows for growth of good bacteria as well as “cultivate, nourish, cleanse, and repair their impaired inner ecosystem” (Matthews, 2011).

In addition to the diets mentioned above, the Weston A. Price diet is also another diet used with children with autism. This diet is “high in omega-3, saturated fat, and cholestrol” (Matthews, 2011), that are important for a healthy brain. It also may help with digestion and lower sugar cravings.


Three actions parents can take to increase self advocacy skills of their children as they transition between activities.

  1. Doing for our children when they can be taught to do for themselves is a counter productive behavior and should be minimized as quickly as possible.
  2. When teaching your children about self-advocacy you may want to consider the following five decision making steps, while continuing to provide support and direction:
    • What is the decision you need to make?
    • What decisions could you make?
    • Evaluate each choice. What are the pluses and minuses of each choice?
    • Pick the best choice. Describe which choice you think is best for you.
    • Evaluate. Did you make the best choice for you?
  3. There are many opportunities for teaching self-advocacy skills throughout the day. It starts with making choices – choices for meals, choices for leisure activities, even choices for which chores to do around the house.