Transition Skills: Laundry

Annie’s transition skill today is sorting, washing, drying, folding and putting away laundry.

Topics we covered include:

  • eco friendly laundry detergent
  • why wool balls are better than dryer sheets
  • sorting: lights, brights, and darks
  • what to do if the washer smells bad
  • cleaning the lint trap
  • not washing mom’s work clothes (!)
  • what if you forget to take clothes out of the washer or the dryer
  • not running wasteful partial loads
  • how to wash stuffed animals
  • setting the timer on your phone to remind you when the dryer will be done
  • not worrying that the washer will finish before the dryer
  • how to fold the clothes and where to put them

We often assume that these things will be apparent to the person learning the skill. I’ve been washing clothes for so long that everything is routine. Annie can do everything required to have clean and tidy clothing, but if she doesn’t have a specific list of steps, and the why behind them, she will simply stop the process.

Annie had questions I hadn’t even considered. How to wash her stuffies? What if the washer finishes before the dryer? (It does, every time.) Since I told her not to let the wet clothes sit in the washer, this was a really good question. I had to append my instruction to “Don’t let the wet clothes sit in the washer for more than an hour.”

For someone like Annie, who may one day be living semi-independently, things like wool dryer balls are a good choice. They last for 6 months or more and don’t have chemicals that can cause eczema. We can automate a purchase of wool dryer balls to arrive every six months, and when the new ones come, she will know to compost the old ones.

We can automate the delivery of laundry detergent, too. For Annie, this eliminates having to pick from the 300 kinds on the shelf at the store and having to find one that will be not harsh on her skin. Having a delivery every eight weeks or so reduces the anxiety of too many options.

For Annie, who struggled with fine motor skills, we talked about the rolling, rather than folding, method of putting clothes away. A rolled t-shirt will stay just as wrinkle-free as a folded one, but it is much easier to accomplish. Same with towels, washcloths, stretch pants.

Laminating a list of steps and taping it to the top of the dryer is a good strategy, too. Annie loves her dry erase checklists. In her case, she is making the checklist herself, but you could do it together, or do it and then walk through it with the person you’re instructing. A better solution, especially if you’re washing at a laundromat, is a list on the phone that your person can pull up. QR codes can be very useful here – I’ll talk about that in another post.

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