Quality of Life in Autism
Begins with life skills

Let’s get started.  
Life skills are the biggest predictor of success in adulthood for individuals with autism. 
Yet, many parents and school teams misunderstand the full breadth of what life skills entail and they often take a back seat in special education planning.  Here you’ll learn:
  • and find products that break down barriers in all ten categories of life skills.

My Mission...

is to increase independence and outcomes for students with autism and
educate and empower parents by identifying barriers and providing solutions to improve the quality of life for your child now and into adulthood.

Meet Julie, the Life Skills Lady and mother of Alex

Life Skills Lady, Me and my son, Alex
Me and my son, Alex

Hi, I’m Julie Swanson. If you’re anything like I am, you’re thinking about your child’s adulthood (yes, even if your child is very young) and how you can optimize their abilities and prepare them for a meaningful, happy and productive adult life.  

Welcome to the Life Skills Lady. 

I created this website (and Facebook community) out of my pure passion to improve the trajectory and outcomes for students on the autism spectrum.

Our children have a limited number of precious years of public education to help them be the best they can be. Unfortunately, many students with autism remain under-employed and lack the adaptive and life skills to optimize their ability to  navigate the demands of everyday life.  

This can happen, in part, with underwhelming  IEPs.  As a special education advocate who has worked with hundreds upon hundreds of parents over the years, I see this first hand.  

WE’VE GOT TO CHANGE THIS, and it all starts here, with your child!

Let’s get started.


Here's A Quick Overview of Adaptive Skills:

What are Adaptive Skills?
(Also Known as Life Skills)

Life skills, activities of daily living, functional skills, adaptive skills or adaptive behavior, it can get confusing that all of these terms are used to describe the skills we need for everyday living. 

Adaptive skills are defined as practical, everyday skills needed to function and meet the demands of one’s environment, including the skills necessary to effectively and independently take care of oneself and to interact with other people. You might hear the term life skills referring to all three categories of adaptive skills, which are conceptual, social and practical life skills.

The terms life skills and adaptive skills are used interchangeably on this site.

Why are Adaptive Skills so Important?

Research shows that increasing adaptive skills can increase adult outcomes and the ability to have the skills we need for day-to-day living.

This is important to consider when ninety percent of adults with autism are unemployed or underemployed. While employment is certainly not the only criterion on which we should measure success, it’s hard to ignore the statistics.

Adaptive Skills can be Underestimated by Parents and School Teams?

Teaching life skills marks the beginning of aiming low on their child’s future and teaching them would be demeaning.

Lagging adaptive skills are masked by the supports that family and teachers provide. 

A student’s life skills are always in keeping with their intelligence, so if a student on the spectrum has above average intelligence, they won’t need them.

Or, life skills are only reserved for people with autism who are more severely impacted with lower IQs and overall functioning.

How This Site Works

Measuring Success is Highly Individualized

I realize that everyone has their own ruler when it comes to measuring success. Some people with autism will go on to be fully independent adults, others will continue to depend on a varied degree of supports into adulthood. Regardless of a person’s level of functioning, acquiring adaptive skills is likely to increase functioning for adult life. This site is designed to meet you, or your child / adolescent or young adult on the autism spectrum, where you are.

Some students with autism will require partial or no support in adulthood.  Every person with autism is unique and everyone’s ruler for success is different.  There is ultimate right or wrong, this site is designed to meet your child’s unique needs.