Generalization Leads to
Permanently Learned Skills

Generalization, a vital step for children with autism, involves applying newly learned skills to different situations. Here is a quick guide that explains how to do this.

Imagine this scenario:

Susie goes to speech therapy. She’s learning how to say her words very well. During her lessons, her speech is becoming easier to understand because she’s pronouncing her consonants better than she did before.

Her mom and her therapist are very proud of her. And they should be. Susie has worked very hard and she’s comes so far.

But at home, Susie’s mom is a little concerned. Susie goes back to her old habits of speech after she leaves the therapy room. At home, all that she learned in speech therapy goes out the window.

Susie is not alone. This is a common problem among many children with autism. They may learn a skill in one setting and not know how to carry that over into other situations.

Generalization:  Applying 
New Skills to New Situations

As you probably know, once they have learned a new skill, most children who have no disabilities will need no further instruction. They automatically know how to take this new skill and use it in a variety of ways and in different situations.

But children with autism tend to need more help than that. They may learn an important skill during therapy or at school, but not know how to make it a habit that they practice everywhere, all the time.

Children like Susie might learn some new speech skills during therapy and then drop the new speech when they go home.

Using this technique would involve helping her learn to apply this new speech skill at home, on the playground, at the store, and in other settings. It turns what she has learned during therapy into a habit for everyday life.

Repeat the Lesson in New Situations

Now Susie’s mom needs to reinforce her new speech skills at home and elsewhere. If necessary, Susie’s mom could decide to repeat some of the same lessons at home that her therapist taught her.

She could even find different activities that will reinforce the speech in different ways.

Once she is improving during these lessons at home, her mom could simply move to gently correcting her in different settings.

Whether your child is learning speech, social skills, or other lessons, it’s really important to repeat these instructions in different situations and in different ways.

Making generalization of skills part of your child’s learning program puts essential finishing touches on all the training that will make him more independent. 

› Generalization

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