Middle Childhood Intervention 6-12:

Category — 1.1 Kindergarten: Adaptive Skills

Adaptive Skills

Adaptive skills are linked to all aspects of development. A child struggling with her fine motor skills will find it difficult to eat with a spoon and zip a zipper. Similarly, a child struggling with cognitive skills may not understand that they need to chew their food carefully, before they swallow it. It is very important to watch for signs of delay in adaptive skills because they could indicate larger and more serious delays in other developmental areas.

Here are some signs that a child may have atypically developing adaptive skills. He or she:

  • still needs help with toileting and may not be fully toilet trained;
  • does not seem to be bothered that his diapers are soiled (if child is still in diapers);
  • is no longer wearing diapers but experiences a lot of bowel and bladder accidents;
  • experiences difficulties with eating and struggles with the use of basic utensils (this could indicate a fine motor delay);
  • experiences difficulties with tooth brushing and may avoid doing so altogether;
  • struggles with buttoning buttons, zipping up, and fastening snaps (this could indicate a fine motor delay);
  • struggles with undressing, even large items of clothing, such as coats;
  • relies on others for help dressing;
  • still uses a sipper cup and makes a mess when uses a regular cup;
  • cannot use a straw (Fig. 1);
  • may not be able to blow his or her nose

a girl drinking with a straw.

Figure 1. A girl drinking with a straw

Did you know?

  • Adaptive skills are closely related to a child’s culture. In some cultures, children are not expected to feed themselves, even in the kindergarten year. Also, in some cultures, children do not help set the table. They are not expected to clean up after themselves when they are finished eating. It is very important to know what the expectations are at home before making a judgement that a child is showing serious or significant delays in the area of adaptive development.
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April 2, 2012   No Comments