ABA Therapy

Tips for Building Independence at Home: Life Skills for Children with Global Developmental Delay

Children with Global Developmental Delay may experience significant delays in acquiring cognitive, physical, and communication abilities, they often require extra support to achieve developmental milestones. However, instilling life skills and fostering independence can significantly improve their overall well-being and quality of life by fostering independence. Here are some tips:

Foster choice making

Whenever you have to make a choice, say your thinking out loud what information you are consulting and why you choose that particular decision. For example If your child wants to play outside, have them consider what could happen if they don’t put on sunscreen or a hat. Explain that the consequence of not using sun protection could be getting a sunburn, which can be painful. Ask them to think about how a sunburn might impact their ability to keep playing outside comfortably.

As your child’s choice making skills improve, increase the number of options and always let them know it’s ok to make mistakes and teach them that mistakes help us know what to do next time.

Encourage them to think about consequences

of choices. Explain that all the choices have consequences.If your child wants to play outside, have them consider what could happen if they don’t put on sunscreen or a hat. Explain that the consequence of not using sun protection could be getting a sunburn, which can be painful.


Encourage Self-Care Skills

The self-care skills of dressing, grooming, and toileting are essential in independence development

.Begin with basic activities at first and, as your child succeeds, move on to more challenging ones. Celebrate small victories and put positive reinforcement to motivate them. Here are some useful ideas:

  • Use clothing with large zippers, velcro, or elastic waistbands to make dressing easier
  • Use a dressing stick or reacher to help guide arms/legs into clothing
  • Use an electric toothbrush or toothbrush with a thick grip
  • Teach what to do, who to call in case of an emergency.


Involve Them in Household Chores

Giving children opportunities to do household work that fits their age can be an easy way to teach life skills that are important. These activities are the ones that build independence as well as the feeling of responsibility and accomplishments among the engaged people. Assign simple, consistent chores to your child that become part of their regular routine. Routines help build skills through repetition. At first, work side-by-side to model and provide physical prompting. Over time, fade assistance and let them do more independently. These are some simple activities your child can get involved.

  • Match socks after laundry is folded,
  • Wipe down tables and counters,
  • Water indoor plants on a schedule
  • Set the table for dinner

Remember that breaking down the tasks into smaller steps and providing clear instructions helps children understand and remember what they need to do, avoiding frustration. For example, set the table could involve: 1) Get plates 2) Get utensils 3) Place items on the table.


Promote setting goals

To foster short-term goals enables your child to grasp goal-setting and to feel the elation of a goal-attainment. Work together to:

– Clearly Define Goals: Let the child know the metrics in a language that is understandable and specific.

– Break it Down: Create a plan step-by-step that includes a successful process for goal attainment and what resources may be necessary.

– Establish a Timeline: Regarding the bigger projects, build up an agenda with milestone deadlines indicating when each step should take place.

– Celebrate Progress: Your child will be thrilled seeing themselves moving towards the goal, so give them praise regularly.

Progress may be slower for children with global developmental delay, but every small achievement deserves recognition. Celebrate their efforts, perseverance, and successes, no matter how minor they may seem.

Remember, every child is unique, and their journey towards independence will be distinct. The activities suggested here are just ideas, and they may need to be modified or adjusted according to your child’s specific abilities and capacities. Try to focus on their abilities, not their limitations







Youth with Disabilities Just Want to Grow Up. (n.d.). Retrieved from [https://publications.ici.umn.edu/impact/19-2/youth-with-disabilities-just-want-to-grow-up]


RIOU, E.M., GHOSH, S., FRANCOEUR, E. and SHEVELL, M.I. (2009), Global developmental delay and its relationship to cognitive skills. Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology, 51: 600-606.

Mangrulkar, L., Cheryl, V., Whitman, M., Posner, P., Kellogg Foundation, W., Brandon, P., Bravo, A., Fallas, H., Kasischke, K., & Richardson, A. (2001). Pan American Health Organization. Health and Human Development Programs (HHD), a division of Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC).