You’ve spent weeks creating a new routine for your child. You’ve color-coded calendars, used timers and countdowns, provided incentives, and praised (and possibly bribed) your child. And then, life happens, and you have to change the routine. With the holidays coming up, some disruptions to your family’s daily routine will likely occur.
Changing a routine can be overwhelming for all children, especially children with autism. Life can be unpredictable, and changes to a routine can lead to a meltdown. Your child may need routine, and certain situations and changes are difficult to manage. Here are some tips for preparing your child for a change in their routine
Talk it Out
It is important to give your child a heads-up if you know there will be a shift in the daily routine. Maybe school is getting out two hours early at the end of the week—let your child know, so they have time to prepare. Or, perhaps your child has a doctor’s appointment after school instead of going to soccer practice. Let them know, so they aren’t surprised! Have a clear and direct conversation with your child about what to expect and answer any questions they might have.
Allow for Extra Time
Changes sometimes occur without warning, and you will need to help your child cope if they need extra time to adjust. Use strategies to help them get used to the new situation. You can bring a favorite toy to comfort them, or distract them by telling stories or playing a simple game, like “I Spy.” Remember to remind your child that they have been through these challenges before and that everything turned out okay.
Use a Visual Schedule
Visual schedules are good for implementing a new routine, but they can be especially effective when accommodating changes. When you have a visual schedule on display, you can easily show your child how things will change and be affected. It will also allow you to introduce new activities into the routine.
Practice Self Care
Regulating your emotions is important for everyone, but for children on the autism spectrum, it may require in-depth training. For many children, emotional regulation doesn’t come naturally. You can set up a predictable calming routine ahead of time to use in unpredictable moments. For instance, you might teach your child to take deep breaths, hug their bodies until they feel relaxed, or move them to a quiet space to calm down.
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center serves families of children and adolescents with disabilities and special needs. We are a team of experts in behavioral sciences. As a team, we offer intensive hands-on therapy for children and adolescents, as well as informative and useful resources for families. If you are interested in learning more about what we can do to help your family, visit us online or give us a call at (301) 577-4333. Want to get more information on how to help your child thrive? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.