TIP: Provide Structure and a Predictable Routine
Everyone finds comfort in routine. Structure, schedules, procedures and routine all provide predictability to our, occasionally irregular and chaotic lives. Routines and schedules help us organize and make sense out of the various random events of our day. Having these routines in place makes events foreseeable, which helps to reduce stress, confusion and anxiety. This need for dependability and routine is commonly even more necessary for children with Autism. Research has provided evidence that many children with Autism thrive and are most successful when structure and routine are established at home and at school. These strategies can help to eliminate or decrease problem behavior and over-dependency in children with Autism. Here are a few tips to help establish and maintain structure within your home:
1. Develop a consistent routine for all daily activities (waking up, taking a bath, meal times, bedtime, going to school, etc.). Attempt to do the steps of these activities in the same order so it becomes routine and predictable to your child. For example, your bedtime routine could consist of reading a story, singing a song, tucking into bed, kissing goodnight, and then lights out.
2. Create a visual schedule to outline the events of the day. Based on your child’s level of functioning determine whether you should use objects, pictures, words or checklists to cue your child of the daily events. For example, in the morning during breakfast you may provide your child with a written schedule or checklist that says “Play in playroom, work, snack, outside, work, lunch”. This will allow your child to predict the day’s events and mark off each item as it is completed.
3. Provide preparatory commands prior to a transition from one activity to another. For example, if your child is in the bathtub and it is time to get out and get dressed for bed, say “In 3 minutes, we are getting out of the water and putting on our pajamas.” Prepare your child that the next step of their routine is coming.
We all know some circumstances will go beyond your control and will demand that the schedule be interrupted. If the routine or schedule needs to change, verbally prepare your child for that change and return to the routine as soon as possible.
Take it one step at a time. Implementing these strategies will result in your child’s success….and that makes it worth it! Share your thoughts or success at firstname.lastname@example.org