Teaching Your Kiddo How to Wash Their Hands

Now that our kiddos are back in school, we often see the spread of viruses increase in schools. As a result, correct handwashing has become a major topic over the past few years in helping to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses. However, this simple task can sometimes be challenging for people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


When teaching handwashing, there are a few strategies that you can use to successfully have them accomplish this skill.


Perform a task analysis.

Before we can teach a skill such as handwashing, we must determine how we will do it. A task analysis breaks down all the steps of an activity into small pieces. The therapist can then review with the child and see which steps the individual struggles with and how they can assist them.

After breaking down the steps, the therapist can then determine how they will teach each step to the child. We use a procedure called chaining to do this. Chaining is a method of teaching multiple steps. There are three forms of chaining:

Forward Chaining

In forward chaining the therapist would first teach the first step by modeling and prompting the child. Once the child learns the first step, we would then move on to the second step, and so on.


Backward Chaining

The child will learn the last step first while the therapist shows the other steps in the task analysis.


Total Task Chaining

The child will do each task and be assisted when they are stuck on a step.

By using the chaining method to teach a child how to wash his or her hands, they are repeatedly practicing the different steps, allowing the child to learn the entire task so they can wash their hands independently.


We practice handwashing at LEAP Autism Therapy multiple times a day. If your child is struggling with handwashing, reach out to LEAP Autism Therapy, and we can devise a plan to help with this skill and other activities of daily living.


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