Autistic kids rely on routines. It’s how they make sense of the world and the environment. And they often prefer for things to remain as they are. But the reality is that things can’t always remain the same. Life sometimes happens, the kids grow up, and sometimes, a partner takes a walk.
When this happens, you’ve got to soldier on and do what you can for the children. One of the biggest challenges of parents with autistic kids is a change in routine, as even small changes can be quite difficult for children on the autism spectrum. So how can you prepare the kids for these unavoidable changes?
Start Introducing Changes Gradually
The easiest way to get the kids prepared for new routines is by introducing them gradually. Start small and go from there. This will give them ample time to get used to the new changes and adjust as time goes by.
For example, if your child prefers playing with a toy before eating, but you prefer that the child eats first and then play with the toy later, you can start by feeding them a spoonful or more of the meal and allow them play with the toy.
Once they’re used to taking a few morsels of food before playing with the toy, you can then increase it until the child does what you want.
Tell them Social Stories About the New Routine
Social stories are a great way to communicate with autistic children and inform them of what is going to happen in the future.
For instance, if you need to take the child to an urgent care facility, and that wasn’t in the plan before, you can tell them a story about going to the hospital, getting injections, and other activities.
Just make sure to conclude the story on a positive note so that the child can look forward to that ending. For example, you can let them know that you will take them to get some ice cream. Social stories are powerful and can help make the new change easier on the kid.
Take the Child to New Environments
If the child has to go to a birthday event, for example, you should introduce them to the venue first before the real event. For instance, if there are pictures of the place online, show them what the place looks like, and probably take them there when it’s much quieter and less crowded.
This way, they won’t be uncomfortable on the day of the event. The same applies to new places. Show them pictures of the new places before taking them there physically. They will be better prepared, and more likely to adjust to the new environment easier.
Take Advantage of Timers
This is a great way to help them transition to other activities. You can set a timer for the child to do something, and let them know that once the timer goes off, it’s time to do the next activity.
For example, if you want the child to try on a new pair of shoes, you can set a 20-minute timer during which they’ll wear the current one. But let them know that once the alarm rings, they need to try the new pair.
This is a contributed post and therefore may not represent the views and opinions of this blog or its author.