When you first have a child, your life changes immeasurably. Routines that you once had go to pot and you must start everything almost from scratch again.
If you have a child suspected or diagnosed as autistic, things can be even more challenging and cause anxiety, and routines you had built up in the early days may need further adaption to ensure that you offer as much support as possible to your child. Continue reading for our top tips on how you can do this, making life a little easier for the whole family. (1)
Ask for Help
It can feel isolating having a child with additional needs, particularly when none of your friendship group really understands the challenges you face daily. Asking for help is absolutely a great step to take whether your child has a diagnosis or not. Actionbehavior.com is a great place to start and you may be able to get the ball rolling in terms of seeking adequate support for both your child and your family. They will be able to support you with ensuring that your daily routines work well for everyone involved.
Having a clear understanding of what is happening during the day and perhaps week ahead can be helpful to autistic people. Visual timetables are something that many teachers use and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever why a similar approach cannot be used in the home. This will allow your child to see what activities they will be doing that day and with whom. Having one where symbols, pictures of photos are laminated and attached with Velcro means that your child can remove the item once it has been completed.
Of course, things do change in life and plans fall through. If this is the case, try to change the timetable as early as possible and explain that you have done so.
Break Down Tasks
Supporting your children to build their levels of independence is crucial, whether they are autistic or not. However, the way in which you do it may differ slightly. For example, if you are encouraging your child to be able to shower independently, they may need reminding of the different jobs they need to do while they are in there, such as shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel.
The same goes for preparing breakfast, for example. You may need to have visuals to remind them that step 1 is to get out a bowl and spoon. Step 2 is to pour in cereal – and with this, you may even need to start with a line on the bowl. Ones with patters can work quite well if there’s a distinctive feature they could use as a guide. (2)
Try to encourage the whole family to get on board with all the routines in order to build familiarity. For example, if you must take the car to school on a weekday morning, ensure that everyone has the same spot in the car each day. Car seats make this much easier. The same goes for around the dinner table. When it comes to chores, keeping the same one for a week, to ensure that your child has time to learn, practice and hone the skill is imperative and also builds familiarity.
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