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Building Positive Routines: A Lifeline for Children with Autism

Positive Routines

For children on the autism spectrum, the world can be a whirlwind of sensory experiences and unexpected changes. Routines, however, offer a comforting sense of predictability and structure. They act as a lighthouse, guiding your child through their day and reducing anxiety. In this blog, we'll explore how to create positive routines that empower and support your autistic child.

Understanding the Why:

Imagine yourself dropped into a foreign country where you don't understand the language or customs. Everything feels overwhelming, right? This is similar to how a child with autism might experience an unstructured day. Routines provide a roadmap, helping them anticipate what comes next and feel more in control.

Building Blocks of a Positive Routine:

  • Start with the Basics: Focus on core routines like wake-up, mealtimes, bedtime, and bath time. Consistency is key! Establish a regular schedule and stick to it as much as possible, even on weekends.

  • Break it Down: Complex tasks can be daunting. Break down routines like getting dressed or brushing teeth into smaller, manageable steps. Visual aids like picture cards or checklists can be incredibly helpful for younger children.

  • Embrace Choice (within limits): Offer your child a limited range of choices within the routine. For example, during playtime, they can choose between two favorite toys. This fosters a sense of autonomy while maintaining structure.

  • Embrace Predictability, But Allow for Flexibility: While consistency is important, unexpected events arise. Prepare your child for occasional changes by giving them advance notice. Social stories can be a great tool to explain upcoming events like doctor visits or family outings.

  • Visual Aids are Your Friend: Create a visual schedule using pictures, icons, or even real objects to represent each step of the routine. This provides a clear reference point for your child and helps them understand the flow of the day.

Making Routines Work for You:

  • Be Patient: Building routines takes time and practice. Celebrate small successes along the way!

  • Involve Your Child: As your child gets older, involve them in creating and modifying the routine. This fosters a sense of ownership and cooperation.

  • Reward System: Consider using a simple reward system to reinforce positive behavior within the routine. Stickers, praise, or short breaks for preferred activities can be effective motivators.

Remember: There's no "one size fits all" approach. The key is to find a routine that works for your unique child and family. With patience, consistency, and a little creativity, you can build positive routines that provide a strong foundation for your child's growth and overall well-being.

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