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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), or simply autism, is referred to a broad set of conditions and challenges related to social skills, nonverbal communication, speech, and repetitive behavior. It is a complex neurobehavioral condition that differs from person to person as it covers a broad spectrum of skills, levels of impairment, and abilities.
Autism in children is mostly associated with challenges in communicating and socializing. A child who finds it hard to express their feelings is incredibly sensitive and may have unusual responses and even resistance to change in their routines and behavior with people.
Therefore, it is important to prepare special routines for such special children so they can look forward to their day.
How to Establish a Good Morning Routine for Autistic Children
If you are a morning person, then you must enjoy a healthy routine to kick-start your day. However, for most people, mornings can be difficult, especially for autistic children. We also cannot ignore that a parent may have it hard due to exhaustion of not only getting themselves ready but also the child. Therefore, establishing a morning routine will not only help your children but can also help anxious parents as routines provide predictability.
For children with ASD, routines can be very important as they feel comfortable in an environment that makes them feel in control. If you are someone who wants their autistic child to have a fantastic start to their day, check out some of the following tips for establishing a morning routine for kids with autism.
1. Make and stick to a schedule
Since ASD differs from person to person, you first need to straighten out the good and bad effects certain activities have on your child. Maybe your child doesn’t like getting up early in the morning; maybe they are overwhelmed by specific images or gestures. This is where you can come up with a schedule that correlates to your child’s responses and behavior.
Once you have written down a routine, it gets easier for your child to work toward it little by little every day. We also recommend you make a schedule that helps with your morning routine as well, especially if you are a working parent or have other children. After making a schedule, try incorporating it, in the same manner, every day.
2. Take help from visual supports
Children with special needs can sometimes have difficulties with sequencing. You can use visual supports to help them follow a morning routine. The fewer choices they are given to choose from, the more confident they become in following the routine.
Autistic children can easily have a meltdown or become overwhelmed; that’s why you can come up with creative ideas such as drawing out a sheet or printing a colorful poster and having it beside your child’s bed. You can even use stickers, cards, and sticky notes to remind them of their activities step by step.
3. Focus on the essentials first
Your child may prefer some activities over others, even if it involves having breakfast first and then changing clothes. To make a child with autism comfortable with a routine, try focusing on their priorities first.
For instance, if they prefer eating first, then let them have a proper breakfast, or if they like making their bed first, then let them do so. You can have them do other activities later once they are settled. Make sure you don’t “force” them to do anything they do not want to, or else their entire day will be jeopardized.
4. Getting things done beforehand
Getting up early will give your child extra time to work through their morning routine without feeling pressurized. Try setting the alarm a few minutes early so that your child can work at their own pace and still isn’t late for school. You can also save time by picking out their clothes and prepare their lunch beforehand to rule out any chance of being late.
It is also a good practice to have your child go to bed early as well, even on the weekend. If you want an individual with special needs to settle in a routine, then you must make sure it is consistent.
5. Set morning goals
Make you and your child’s morning fun and active by setting creative incentives for them. You can ease them into doing an activity they aren’t sure about by giving them fun goals, such as treating them to their favorite snack or allowing them to do something they want later.
The key is to keep them motivated and relaxed rather than pushing them into doing something that would only make matters worse. You can teach them small meaningful lessons through this technique without tipping them off.