Life skills 

change everything

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:


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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.

My Mission

is to educate and empower parents with the information they need to identify barriers and provide solutions that increase independence and quality of life in their children with autism.

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.