Autism and the Importance of Routine

December 29, 2019

The importance of routine in children with Autism is very high.The main criteria for a diagnosis of ASD at all levels is that the individual displays repetitive, compulsive behaviors and are very resistant to change, which translates as discomfort toward the lack of control when expectations are not met. However, that compulsiveness is one of the most important keys to helping individuals on the spectrum avoid “meltdowns” and to help those of us who aren’t on the spectrum to understand and try to prevent what triggers them, especially in childhood development.
Although many people associate autisms’ typical excessive-compulsion with the cause of most meltdowns and losing of control, it’s that same obsessive compulsiveness that allows teachers and parents to prepare children on the spectrum for what to expect in the classrooms or therapies, as well as day to day life. Sitting down each evening or morning and explaining the day’s events, in written or visual form if possible, gives them a sense of security in knowing what to expect and makes for better transitions in the smaller, daily struggles of not feeling in control. For example, knowing that at exactly 11:45 a.m. everyday is lunch time and that 12:30 a.m. everyday is nap time gives both the children and the caretakers the ability to anticipate and execute a plan together and learning throughout the entire day that there is always a plan is key. Routine, I would argue, is the most important tool we can teach to children on the spectrum and adhering to the routine we set is the most important thing caretakers can do to give the children a sense of security and control.
All of us are creatures of habit, so understanding that those on the spectrum are even more wired to need structure than most allows us to prepare both them, and ourselves to be more understanding, patient, and in control of the way we all handle whatever might not fit into each days plan. If you are homeschooling with study guides its better to have a set schedule and stick with it.

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