10 tips for creating routines for autistic children

10 tips for creating routines for autistic children
10 tips for creating routines for autistic children
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Routine can be very important for children with ASD | Photo: (Iren_Geo | Shutterstock)

This month, marked as “Blue April”, is dedicated to raising awareness about autism. It’s more than just a calendar appointment; is an invitation to reflect on the importance of understanding and supporting people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). In a context where routine plays a vital role in the well-being of autistic children, exploring strategies and benefits of adaptive habits becomes even more significant.

However, it is important to note that not everyone needs or wants to follow a routine rigidly. Some thrive in more flexible and adaptable environments, but for most, a well-established daily organization can bring many benefits to life. The same happens with people with ASD.

“Routine plays a crucial role in the development and well-being of autistic children, providing safety, predictability and boundaries. […] The lack of this routine without any support for the child to experience change and understand what to expect from their environment can result in irritability, anxiety and learning and sleeping difficulties”, says Alice Tufolo, clinical director of Genial Care, a healthcare network atypical reference in Latin America.

Benefits of routine for children with ASD

Below, check out 4 benefits of planning for autistic children:

1. Emotional and behavioral stability

They provide a foundation, reducing challenging behaviors.

two. Development of social skills

Integrating regular habits creates structured opportunities for social interaction and effective communication.

3. Autonomy and self-care skills

Promote the independence and facilitate the development of practical self-care skills.

4. Positive impact on communication

Creates an environment conducive to the development and practice of communication, facilitating clear and meaningful interactions.

Establishing a Routine for Autistic Childrens

Check out 10 tips below for establishing a routine for children on the autism spectrum.

1. Predictability and structure

Children on the autism spectrum often benefit from predictable, structured routines. Try to keep consistent schedules for activities such as waking up, eating, playing and sleeping.

Using visual resources can help children understand and anticipate the day’s activities (Image: eggeegg | Shutterstock)

2. Use of preview

Use visual aids, such as calendars, visual schedules or to-do lists, to help your child understand and anticipate the day’s activities. This can reduce anxiety and promote a smooth transition between activities.

3. Clear and direct communication

Use simple, direct language when communicating expectations and instructions. Avoid ambiguous metaphors or language that may cause confusion.

4. Offer limited choices

Allow the child to make choices within predefined limits whenever possible. This can help promote a sense of control and autonomy.

5. Use rewards and positive reinforcement

Use a system of rewards or positive reinforcement to encourage desired behaviors and help the child understand expectations.

6. Offer sensory support

Many children in autism spectrum have unique sensory sensitivities. Learn about your child’s sensory preferences and provide the necessary support, whether through adjustments to the environment or providing sensory tools such as textured objects or noise-cancelling headphones.

7. Prepare for transitions

Anticipate and prepare the child for transitions between activities by providing visual or verbal warnings before a change occurs. This can help reduce the anxiety associated with transitions.

8. Be flexible

While consistency is important, it’s equally essential to be flexible and adapt your routine as needed. Be open to adjustments based on the child’s needs, which change over time.

9. Involve the child in creating the routine

Include your child in the process of establishing regular habits whenever possible. This can help increase a sense of control, collaboration and organization.

10. Seek professional support

Consider consulting a professional who specializes in autism, such as an occupational therapist or a behavior analystfor additional guidance and support in creating an effective routine for your child.

Investing in adaptive routines empowers autistic children, providing a healthy and efficient trajectory for development. Personalizing this with meaningful and understandable elements improves the organization of daily activities and communication. The predictability offered by routines is essential not only at home, but also during leisure time and family trips.

By Letícia Carvalho

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The article is in Portuguese

Tags: tips creating routines autistic children

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