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Self-Help Skills for People with Autism

Self-Help Skills for People with Autism: A Systematic Teaching Approach

Learning self-help skills-eating, dressing, toileting, and personal hygiene-can be challenging for people with autism, but is essential for independence. "Self-Help Skills for People with Autism" thoroughly describes a systematic approach that parents (and educators) can use to teach basic self-care to children, ages 24 months to early teens, and even older individuals. With an encouraging tone, the authors-behavior analysts and psychologists-emphasize that it's worthwhile to devote the extra time and effort now to teach skills rather than have your child be forever dependent on others.

The many case studies throughout Self-Help Skills depict individuals with deficits in specific self-care tasks, and demonstrate how a coordinated and systematic approach is effective in teaching more complex skills. For example, a 12-old with the self-feeding skills of a toddler, who was excluded from the school cafeteria, is taught to stay at the table to eat a full meal using utensils. To purchase or to read reviews, please visit Amazon.com.


Members of Summit’s staff have contributed to the following publications, articles, and research studies:

Practice Guidelines / Reviews

New York State Department of Health, Early Intervention Program (1999). Clinical practice guideline: Guideline technical report. Autism/pervasive developmental disorders, assessment and intervention for young children (ages 0 -3 years). Albany, NY: New York State Department of Health. [Dr. Anderson was a member of this Team]

General Articles

Anderson, S. R., & Romanczyk, R. (1999). Early Intervention for you children with autism: Continuum-based behavioral models. Journal of the Association for the Severely Handicapped, 24, 162-173.

Non-Randomized Control Groups or Single Case Studies for EIBI

Anderson, S. R., Avery, D. L., DiPietro, E. K., Edwards, G. L., & Christian, W. P. (1987). Intensive home-based intervention with autistic children. Education and Treatment of Children, 10. 352 – 366.

Instructional Methods

Anderson, S. R., and Jablonski, A. (2005). Discrete trial instruction. In M Hersen (Ed), Encyclopedia of Behavior Modification and Cognitive Behavior Therapy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Anderson, S. R., Taras, M., and O’Malley Cannon, B. (1996). How to teach young children with autism. In C. Maurice (Ed.), Behavioral home-based instruction for children with autism. pro -ed. 

Anderson, S. R., Jablonski, A., Madaus-Knapp, V., & Thomeer, M. (2007). Self-help Skills for children with Autism: A systematic teaching approach. Bethesda, MD: Woodbine Press.

Anderson, S. R. (in press). The development of self-help skills in children with autism. Baltimore: Baltimore: Paul H. Brookes. 

Summit Programs and Service

Anderson, S.R., Thomeer, M., and King, D. (2006). Summit Academy. In J. S. Handleman & S. L. Harris (Eds.), School-age educational programs for children with autism: The in-between years. Austin, Tx: pro-ed. 

Anderson, S. R., Jablonski, A. L., Honer, K. B., Madaus Knapp, V., & Belile, M. D., (2007). Preschool programming: Summit Academy’s Early Autism Program. In J. S. Handleman & S. L. Harris (Eds.), Preschool education programs for children with autism. Third Edition. Austin, TX: pro ed. 

Asperger’s Disorder (Summit Staff in Bold)

Lee, G. K., Lopata, C., Volker, M. A., Thomeer, M. L., Toomey, J. A., Chow, S. Y., & Smerbeck, A. M. (2009). Health related quality of life for parents of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Developmental Disabilities. 24(4), 227- 239.

Lopata, C., Gitman, K., Toomey, J. A., Volker, M. A., Nida, R. E., Thomeer, M. L., & McDonald, C. A. (in press). Experimental study examining the effect of social familiarity on behavioral manifestations of stress and anxiety in children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. In F. Columbus (Eds.), Stress: Causes, effects, and control. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.

Lopata, C., Hamm, E. M., Volker, M. A., Sowinski, J. E., & Thomeer, M. L. (2007). Motor and visual motor skills of children with Asperger’s disorder: Preliminary findings. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 104, 1183-1192.

Lopata, C., Thomeer, M. L., Volker, M. A., & Nida, R. E. (2006). Effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral treatment on the social behaviors of children with Asperger’s disorder. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 12 (4), 237-244.

Lopata, C., Volker, M. A., Toomey, J. A., Chow, S., & Thomeer, M. L. (2008). Asperger’s and other high functioning autism spectrum disorders: A review of group-based social enhancement research and a model for school-based social intervention. In F. Columbus (Eds.), School Psychology: 21st Century Issues and Challenges (pp. 299-325). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.

Lopata, C., Thomeer, M. L., Volker, M. A., Toomey, J. A., Nida, R. E., Lee, G. L., Smerbeck, A. M., Rodgers, J. D. (2010). RCT of a manualized social treatment for high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Toomey, J. A., Lopata, C., Volker, M. A., & Thomeer, M. L. (in press). Comprehensive intervention for high-functioning autism spectrum disorders: An in-depth case study. In F. Columbus (Eds.), Special Education. Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science.

Volker, M. A., Lopata, C., Vujnovic, R. K., Smerbeck, A. M., Toomey, J. A., Rodgers, J. D., Schiavo, A. & Thomeer, M. L. (in press). Comparison of the Bender Gestalt-II test and VMI-V in samples of typical children and children with high functioning autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment. 

Volker, M.A., Lopata, C., Smerbeck, A., Knoll, V.A., Thomeer, M.L., Toomey, J.A., & Rodgers, J.D. (in press). BASC-2 PRS profiles for students with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders.

Volker, M. A., Lopata, C., Smith D. A., & Thomeer, M. L. (2009). Facial encoding of children with high-functioning autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, 24(4), 195-204.


Note: M. L. Thomeer now at Canisius College Institute for Autism Research, Buffalo, NY.