My 4 year old son, Charlie, is a sweet, smart little guy who absolutely loves helping. Several months ago, Charlie was diagnosed with Autism, as well as cognitive and language delays. Very quickly, our lives began to revolve around Charlie's therapy and making sure he was getting the right balance of support and challenge he needed to succeed. Now, the truth of the matter is, my husband and I both work full time (and then some!) so we need to use our evening and weekend time wisely. We realized that there were a lot of things that needed to be done around the house that could benefit Charlie and not just in a life skills way. We got creative and began to integrate him into our family cleaning routine, partly to establish a role for him in keeping up with the house, but to also let him practice and build skills. Here are some examples of jobs (we call chores "jobs") that Charlie does around the house and how they contribute to his growth and development. First, Then Something that Charlie struggles with, and all young children need to learn, is how to follow two step directions. This has to do with his delay in processing language. He needs all the practice he can get in following both two step related (first put on pajamas and then put your clothes in the hamper) and two step unrelated (first brush your teeth and then feed the dog) directions. We use a combination of visual cues (picture cards) and auditory reminders to let him practice and build this skill. Instructions like "first put your dishes in the sink and then wipe off the table" or "first pick up the train tracks and then put your shoes away" meet goals of tidying up, but also give him that practice. Matching and Sorting Understanding the concept of bigger/smaller and same/different is another important skill that all kids learn at different times and one that Charlie is still working on. Chances to match and sort by size, shape, color, etc. let kids practice and develop this important skill. Charlie helps put away toys in their correct bins, match socks when we fold laundry, put away silverware, etc. These are some of his favorite jobs! Organizing things into groups is calming to him. Imaginative Play The ability to imagine and play pretend doesn't come easy for Charlie and impacts his ability to interact and play with his peers. When we clean, it's a great opportunity to put on some music and play! Is this a broom or a dance partner? How about a race to clean up the living room toys before the floor becomes lava?! Not only does it make the time go by faster, but it encourages creativity and pretend. Staying Engaged If it were up to Charlie, he would spend the time from when we got home until bedtime playing quietly, using the iPad, watching TV, etc. Though we also tend to his introverted nature, we want to challenge him and keep him engaged, practicing important social skills such as eye contact, the concept of personal space, and conversation. When he helps make dinner, run errands, or do chores such as dusting or sweeping, he's up and interacting with us. Even though he can't exactly mop, he can help point out the spots to get next or some other super important helper job! Libman was kind enough to send us these fun dusting slippers that Charlie absolutely loves! He puts them on his hands and feet to help when we clean; I love how active and motivated he gets! As Charlie gets older, I'm sure his jobs will change, but I hope to always link them back to a skill he is working on obtaining. Don't get me wrong, we play and read and craft - A LOT, but the end of the day, the cleaning needs to get done - might as well make it a fun learning opportunity!