Independence for primary school children with an ID

When children transition from early intervention or kindergarten to primary school it is expected that there is a degree of independence. With children who have an Intellectual Disability(ID) management of personal skills is usually an area of difficulty for them to develop. Once again depending on the degree of your child’s ID, the level of skill development and expectation will be varied. If your child has an associated learning disability such as Autism Spectrum Disorder(ASD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder(ADHD) then your child may experience a further level of difficulty with the development of personal skills.


Helping your child to develop motor skills will assist them with personal skill development. Fine and gross motor skill development will help in the management of personal skills such as cleaning teeth or assisting in household chores like setting the table. Manual dexterity will assist your child with manipulation tasks in the school setting such as handwriting, accessing technology and sports and leisure programs. Personal skill development in these areas is essential for your child’s future development and independence.

Many personal skills can be taught naturally through the day linked to tasks that occur. For example:

  • Packing and unpacking their school bag each day at home. This will help your child to understand that they need to be responsible for their belongings. They will be required to care for their personal belongings at school and to pack away and retrieve items throughout the school day.
  • Identifying items of clothing and dressing is an everyday task that needs to be mastered. Encourage your child to be as independent as possible with these tasks. At some stage they may attend school organised swimming lessons or a camp where they will be required to change and manage their clothing.

If your child has a severe ID with an associated physical disability, then their participation in these skill development areas may be very limited. It is important however, to involve them in each task and acknowledge any attempt by your child to contribute to the task. Remember that your child will require many opportunities to learn the tasks and repetition will help them towards independence.

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