Tips for Changing Your Child's Routine
Change is one of the biggest anxiety provoking transitions for both children and adults. Children with autism can be especially sensitive to disruptions to their routine. Transitions in your child’s schedule resets the expectation for their new normal. They may have questions and concerns about what comes next, or how they should deal with the changes. Here are a few tips for helping to ensure that changes to your child’s routine go as smoothly as possible.
Preparation- You can help your child with their schedule change by working to create structure before the change. You may create a calendar schedule, a list of expectations to be posted on the refrigerator, or a visual schedule to name a few.
Discussion- Talk about it in advance! Once the schedule has been created, set up expectations for each of the scheduled items so your child knows what is coming.
Practice- Plan to implement the new schedule on a predetermined date. Create schedules so they can practice, and problem solve through the schedule with you! If possible, allow your child to have some control of a component of the new routine/schedule.
Be open- Allow your child to have doubts and fears about their new schedule. Talking about their new schedule will assist in normalizing the routine and will help decrease the stigma associated with the schedule change. Social stories, depending upon functioning level and age, may be a good tool to discuss the new schedule with your child.
Make a plan- Help them create plans to face those uncertainties that may arise while they are moving through their schedule. Help them identify a network of resources if they encounter a stressor while learning their new schedule.
Find Your Support- Seek assistance from others who have faced the struggle you currently find yourself facing as a parent of a child with unique needs. For example, online networking via social media, local parent groups, Local Autism Societies may provide social networking and idea sharing to help you get creative in helping your child adapt to their new schedule.
Not all schedule changes allow for each step above, but work them in where you can and hopefully, you can help your child feel less anxious and more easily adapt to changes.
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