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Chores to Teach Life Skills to Kids With Special Needs

Mom of 2 Boys With Special Needs: "Chores Are No Longer For Me, They're For Them"

Alethea Mshar is like most parents: the idea of having her kids do chores instead of just doing the tasks herself never seems like the easier choice. However, over the years, the mom has learned why it's so important that she delegate household tasks to her kids, especially her two sons, who both have Down syndrome. Alethea admits that she assigns just enough chores to her kids to help them be "competent human beings," a statement that carries more weight with her sons, Ben, 12, and Alex, 15, who both have intellectual disabilities.

"Chores are no longer for me, they're for them," Alethea wrote in a post she shared to her Facebook page. "Call them 'life skills,' or 'activities of daily living,' and we have a whole different topic on our hands. I don't always do a great job of it . . . but the importance of giving my boys jobs around the house isn't lost on me. They need to be taught the many daily skills that will lead to greater independence and lifelong satisfaction. It's crucial to their development; and if they don't get it from me, they miss out on big developmental accomplishments."

According to Alethea, Ben, who also has an autism diagnosis, and Alex have been helping with household chores since they could stand and complete tasks. "We started very young with things like dusting and have gone from there," she told POPSUGAR. "They do dishes and empty the dishwasher, do and fold laundry, dust and vacuum, and pick up. Their favorite is to pitch in with cooking and baking. Alex wants to make dinner for his grandparents when they come to visit in two weeks! Alex also helps with outdoor work like snow shoveling and hauling wood to heat the house."

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However, despite getting her boys involved in so many tasks around the house, Alethea doesn't do formal chore charts, nor does she delegate certain jobs to each one. "I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, so we don't have a schedule, but if one of the boys is around when work needs to be done, I rope them into it."

Although Alethea admits that she's been "way more dutiful" about involving her boys in chores than her daughter Hannah, she knows that Ben and Alex need and benefit from these life lessons in a different way. But, as with any tween or teen, that doesn't mean her kids oblige willingly to doing the laundry or setting the table. "And I'm sure you can tell that Ben is just as thrilled as any other tween to be emptying the dishwasher," Alethea said of Ben in the above photo. "Some things are universal."

Image Source: Alethea Mshar
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