Stuff You Need To Know: A Guide for Young Adults with Autism

Stuff You Need To Know: A Guide for Young Adults with Autism

by Patricia Weaver


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Is your child with autism getting ready to live on their own? Stuff You Need to Know is a guide to help kids and young adults with autism learn the most basic skills to achieve independence. This workbook covers beginner-level tasks such as:

  • Reading nutritional labels and making healthy choices
  • Practicing good hygiene and getting ready independently
  • Following a recipe to make lunch
  • Realizing when something is an emergency (and having an action plan)
  • Using technology and social media safely

  • And more!

    This resource, written by a mom and proven to have helped hundreds of young adults even before publication, will help your child take their first steps to a safe, happy, and independent life.

    Product Details

    ISBN-13: 9781941765913
    Publisher: Future Horizons, Inc.
    Publication date: 02/01/2019
    Pages: 136
    Sales rank: 743,536
    Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 10.90(h) x 0.40(d)

    About the Author

    Patricia Weaver is a parent of a son with autism. Her dual degrees in Biology and Health Sciences with a certification as a Physician’s Assistant were a strong foundation for her additional training in the Lovaas method of ABA and the Greenspan Floortime methodology. She acquired additional training in TEACCH and PECS during her employment as a teacher and specialist. She has over 20 years of experience working with persons with Autism including in the Henrico County school system; as past president of the Autism Society of America, Central VA Chapter; and as four years as the Director of Tuckahoe Little League Challenger Division. Additionally, she is one of the co-founders and president of the Skills Development Center (SDC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the continued learning and self-empowerment of adults over 18 with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Her passion is her current job as the Program Director of the SDC, working with these adults as they continue to learn skills, explore and develop talents and help them connect with their peers in a facilitated recreation center. Stuff You Need to Know was written for this population to help them learn some of the softer, subtler skills of adulthood such as technology, internet, health and hygiene and cooking.

    Read an Excerpt




    Being healthy is an important aspect of life that is relevant to everyone. Unfortunately, we do not routinely teach specifics about this part of our lives for several reasons. Often these are embarrassing subjects to discuss, or there may be other concerns such as medical issues. Regardless, young adults with disabilities need to better understand their own bodies and how to take care of them as they become more independent and start handling themselves as adults. Hopefully, this unit is a good starting point. We want these stories to open up an honest dialogue between the young adult with autism and their mentor, so issues can be openly discussed without embarrassment. Please understand that none of these stories are related to any specific person but are a representation of common occurrences I have learned through my extensive work with my own family and within the autism community.

    In the section "Healthy Numbers," we discuss our weight, BMI, and how these numbers relate to our overall health. When we discuss weight, the number isn't as relevant as how we feel, whether or not we can participate in activities we enjoy, and our overall health. In "Active Lifestyle" we discuss how to get and stay in shape by staying active. As we age and leave the daily routines of school and team sports behind, it is easy to become sedentary and gain weight. We open the discussion with activities young adults may like and how they can translate into enjoyable adult activities to keep us active and healthy.

    This also offers a chance to teach some healthy activities that may be new to the young adult such as yoga, gardening, and dancing.

    In "Special Diet" we address a common theme among many adults with autism — their diet. Fortunately, special diets are much more common and accepted today, making them easier to follow. Our approach as mentors is to help our young adults (and others!) to better understand why people eat differently. This can open up discussions about food sensitivities, food allergies, and overall healthy eating habits. This leads into our last section, "Smart Eating." As we age, our metabolism slows down. This may also be compounded by medications, a less active lifestyle, and other effects of advancing age. Now is the time to work on developing healthier eating habits and eating less processed foods. With this unit, if it's possible, connect with a local nutritionist to have them discuss food choices and answer questions. It's always helpful to get information from a trained professional in your community. This unit includes a game guessing the calorie count of your favorite foods, as well as a guide to planning healthy menus with foods that you like. As a take-away with this unit we have included nutritional guidelines from a nutritionist and samples of fresh fruit or healthy gluten-free protein bars as examples of more healthy eating choices.

    This is a fun unit as every topic applies to everyone in life and sometimes it's reassuring to know others have similar habits and issues. We are all together as we travel through life and hopefully the following units will help us better understand our similarities and remind us that our differences are smaller than we think.


    Hi, my name is Chris and I have autism. I am 27 years old and a big guy. I like to go to the movies and amusement parks to ride on all the rides. Sometimes the seats are too small for me and walking around the park can make me tired. So I have decided to get healthy! The first thing to do is measure my height and weight. I like numbers, but I don't care what these numbers are — I am going to use them as a starting point. Doctors also use these numbers to calculate my BMI (body mass index). That is a number that doctors use to determine how much stress I may be putting on my lungs and heart. So, as I work to get healthy I can track my progress by looking at my numbers. Are they going up or down? What are your numbers?

    – GLOSSARY –

    BODY MASS INDEX (BMI): This determines the amount of body fat based on a person's height and weight. It is used by doctors to help evaluate the stress on your heart and lungs.

    HEART: Organ that pumps blood throughout your body.

    LUNGS: Pair of organs that pump air through your body, spreading oxygen and removing carbon dioxide.

    HEALTHY: Having a weight that is in the right range for my height and age. I am able to walk and move with running out of breath or tiring out.

    – ACTIVITY –

    Using a calculator, fill in your numbers and figure out your BMI for a start on a healthy lifestyle.


    Hi, my name is Frances and I am friends with Chris. To help him get healthy, we have started going for walks together and working out at the gym. Part of getting healthy is moving around. Some ways to add movement to your day are taking brisk walks for 15 to 30 minutes, doing yard work, gardening, bicycling, or dancing to music. It is fun to try out the different machines at the gym and find your own favorite way to move! Sometimes you can't get out of the house or don't belong to a gym. There are some great activities you can do inside, like basic exercises and yoga. Any time you exercise, your body releases endorphins. Let's check out some basic exercises and yoga poses. Pick your favorites and try to do it at least 4 or 5 times a week. It's always fun to get healthy with a friend, so look around and find a friend to work out with you!

    – GLOSSARY –

    ENDORPHINS: The "happy hormone"; a group of hormones that are released by your brain during physical exercise that makes you feel relaxed and happy.

    YOGA: A practice originating in ancient India which includes breathing control, meditation, and specific body poses. Yoga is great for overall health and relaxation.

    WORKING OUT: When someone exercises to improve their strength, fitness, and overall health.

    – ACTIVITY –

    Using the pictures of six basic poses, try them out and remember to stretch.

    Practice the six yoga poses. Longest held pose: _______ seconds

    Favorite pose: _________________________________________________

    Notes on my favorite activities that help to keep me healthy:

    Include favorite sports you participate in, daily walks or bike rides, gym activities, and outdoor work or play.





    Hi, my name is Luke and I am on the autism spectrum. I was getting headaches a lot, so I talked with my doctor and we decided to take gluten out of my diet. Once I stopped eating gluten, I got fewer headaches. This is how I learned that my diet affects how I feel! If I eat too much sugar I get really excited and feel like I am speeding around, but then I get really tired. If I drink cow's milk (with the protein casein), my brain gets foggy and I can't think well. If I eat a lot of bread, my ears get red and burn and sometimes I get a stomachache and a headache. Everybody is different, how do foods affect you?

    – GLOSSARY –

    HEADACHES: A dull, achy pain in your head which can because of diet imbalance, illness, or stress.

    GLUTEN: A mixture of proteins found in flour made of wheat, barley, rye, and oats.

    WHEAT: Wheat is used in making many breads and pasta.

    GLUTEN FREE (GF): Breads and pastas made from products like rice, quinoa, or potatoes. They do not contain wheat and are GF (gluten free).

    CASEIN: A protein found in cow's milk. Casein is not found in rice, soy, or almond milk.

    – ACTIVITY –

    Do you have a special diet? What are your favorite foods? What are some healthy food choices for you?

    Special diet: _____________________________________________

    Favorite foods: _______________________________________



    Healthy food choices:





    My name is Susie, and I have spent a lot of time reading food labels, checking on how many calories are in my food, and trying to have a healthy diet. It seems like I have been on a diet for a long time, so I have learned a few things I can share with you. When you eat, you take in calories (cal) from proteins and carbohydrates. Then, during your day, you burn calories by walking, working, exercising, and even sleeping! As an adult you stop growing, so the calories (cal) you eat need to be about equal to the calories (cal) you use during the day, or you can gain weight. So, let's look at the food you eat during the day and compare it to your activities during the day to see how it equals out!

    – GLOSSARY –

    NUTRITIONAL LABEL: The label on all packaged food that gives nutritional information on calories (cal), proteins, carbohydrates, and other important information.

    CALORIE (CAL): A unit of energy and how we measure the energy our body needs to function. You get calories by eating food and use up calories in daily activities such as walking, working, and sleeping.

    PROTEIN: Amino acids, a complex substance found in some foods that are necessary for good health. They help our body grow and repair itself. Some examples are eggs, fish, beef, chicken, beans, and cheese.

    CARBOHYDRATES: Foods that break down to starches and sugars used by the body for energy. Some examples are bread, pasta, fruit, potatoes, and vegetables.

    FATS: The fats and oils found in your diet. Butter, oils, and fats should be limited in a healthy diet.

    DAIRY: These are foods high in calcium. Some examples are milk, ice cream, and cheeses.

    HEALTHY DIET: A healthy diet means eating nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and proteins. You may include dairy (if you can tolerate it) and small amount of fats in a healthy diet.




    How we present ourselves to the world establishes how people see us; that's how people who don't know us start to build their perception of us. When we dress in a fun, relaxed manner, people will think we're having a casual day. If we dress in a fancy dress or a suit, it might be assumed we are off to a formal affair. That first impression can be very important and can make the path in front of us easier or harder. In this unit, we hope to open up discussions about our personal presentations, appropriate dress, and putting forth a positive, appropriate image to the world.

    In "Good Hygiene" we discuss the real basics of presentation: cleanliness and good personal hygiene. These topics are often ignored or glossed over to avoid embarrassment. However, everyone needs to be aware of their bodily functions, body odors, general cleanliness, and dental health. Young adults with disabilities need to be taught how to take responsibility for themselves and their bodies. Parents and caregivers also need to realize that it may take a little more time, but we need to allow our young adults to grow up and take responsibility for themselves. What they do may not be perfect, but over time they will build self-reliance as we give these young adults the right tools to take care of themselves. As a take-away from this story, you can give them fingernail kits, sample bottles of shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, and travel grooming kits.

    In "Fashion Sense" we look at how to take care of our clothes. Again, we want our young adults to start accepting the responsibility of taking care of the things they need and use every day, such as their bodies and their clothes. This story helps the reader understand how to better take care of their clothes and read clothing tags.

    In "Clothing Malfunction" and "Right Clothes at the Right Time" the characters in the peer stories get embarrassed or lose out on opportunities because they are dressed inappropriately. With guidance, our adults can become aware that what they wear can affect their mood, how people see them, their ability to enjoy an activity, as well as their self-esteem. The image we project is very important as we travel through life and we need to take responsibility for ourselves.

    As in all our stories, the characters are a literary creation and not based on any particular person or event.


    Hi, my name is Mark and I am on the autism spectrum. I have a job and work hard but my co-workers have made some remarks about me not smelling very good and that my hair is greasy. That's not very nice! But when I mentioned this to my friend, he said I need to have good hygiene. I'm not even sure what he meant! I shower one day a week. I don't play in the dirt, so why do I need to shower any more than that? I don't have time in the morning and my mom always told me when to bathe, so I never really thought about it. How often should I take a bath? What about you, how often do you shower? How do you feel afterward? When do you wash your hair? How often do you cut your fingernails? How often do you get a haircut?

    – GLOSSARY –

    HYGIENE: A habit of body cleanliness to maintain good health and keep us from getting sick.

    DEODORANT: A product that we put under our arms to prevent body odor. Some deoderants include antiperspirant to decrease sweating.

    DENTAL HYGIENE: Taking care of your teeth by brushing and flossing your teeth twice daily. You should see your dentist at least once a year.

    HAIR CARE: Hair needs to be shampooed at least three times a week (depending on your hair type) and styled/brushed every day. Hair needs to be cut about every two months to keep your hair healthy.

    – ACTIVITY –

    How's your hygiene? Do you need to make changes?

    How often do you shower or take a bath per week? ____________________

    How often do you shave? _____________________________________________

    Do you have trouble shaving? ________________________________________

    How often do you wash your hair? ____________________________________

    How often do you cut your fingernails? ______________________________

    How often do you get a haircut? _____________________________________

    Who cuts your hair? _________________________________________________

    Why is it important to have good hygiene? ___________________________

    Concerns: ___________________________________________________________


    Hi, my name is Ashley and I love my clothes! I like pretty dresses, skirts, blouses, cool jeans, and all the latest fashions. I don't get to go shopping a lot for new clothes because they are expensive and my parents say I don't take care of them. It's important to look good and I don't have the time to hang up my clothes or wash them — that's what my parents are for! I'll be moving out with friends soon, so who will take care of my clothes then? Can I just throw everything in the washer? How much detergent and which settings on the washing machine do I use? When the washer stops, can I throw everything into the dryer on high? Maybe I can get my mom to wash my clothes forever.

    – GLOSSARY –

    WASHING MACHINE OR "WASHER": A machine used to wash most clothes. Clothes should be washed after being worn for one or two days.

    DRYER: A machine used to dry recently washed clothes. Use the proper settings for the types of clothes you are drying. A pair of jeans will need a higher temperature than a nice shirt.

    SETTINGS: The settings on a washer or a dryer will determine the temperature of the water or heat that will be used.

    – ACTIVITY –

    Look at your clothes and their tag to find out how to clean your clothes.

    Practice with these tags:

    Would you wash these clothes in a washer? ___________________________

    Hot or cold water? __________________________________________________

    Would you put it in a dryer? ________________________________________

    What temperature? ___________________________________________________

    Would you wash these clothes in a washer? ___________________________

    Hot or cold water? __________________________________________________

    Would you put it in a dryer? ________________________________________

    How do you dry it? __________________________________________________


    Yo, I'm Pete and I live in the city with my mom and sister. I like hanging out with the other guys on the street, shooting hoops, and playing on my phone. I don't pay any attention to my clothes, I just grab what I can find. I like jeans and T-shirts. I had a problem the other day when I bought some food to take home: since my hands were full, my pants kept falling down. At least I wasn't "going commando." I had on my last pair of underwear, but it was still embarrassing! I learned a lesson; I should always make sure I am dressed right before I go out and that I have a belt to keep my pants up!


    Hey, I'm Pete's sister, Patty. Boy, did I laugh when Pete lost his pants, and Mom was mad! Being a girl, I have the best clothes. My favorite outfit is a cute skirt and little top, and I never go anywhere without my high-heeled boots. But that was a problem when I went to an event at the gym to play basketball and do some aerobics. I had to sit out with my buddy because my high heels weren't allowed in the gym. Luckily, my buddy and I were able to take a walk outside. It was cold outside at 42°F, so I'm glad I had a coat. I guess we all need to pay attention to where we are going and what the weather will be so we don't miss out on the fun!


    Excerpted from "Stuff You Need To Know"
    by .
    Copyright © 2018 Patricia Weaver.
    Excerpted by permission of Future Horizons, Inc..
    All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
    Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

    Table of Contents

  • Unit 1: Being Healthy
  • Unit 2: Personal Presentation
  • Unit 3: Time and Money Management
  • Unit 4: Emergencies
  • Unit 5: Personal Safety
  • Unit 6: Technology
  • Unit 7: Cooking Basics
  • Unit 8: Answer Sheets for Activities
  • Unit 9: Personal Resource Guide
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