We hear it all the time, in the autism community, Change is good, try to not get stuck in a routine (even though your child THRIVES on routine and you typically have a happier child being on a routine!
So what is it people? Change or Routine?
No, I know that answer but it tends to be difficult when you are just trying to manage life at times.
Change is constantly occurring and I know we must embrace and understand how we can cope when it does occur. At times though, change, especially unexpected change, can be extremely stressful for children with autism. Children with autism often prefer to have a sense of structure and to know what to expect during the day and what activity they will be doing and when. Consistency and predictability help children feel reassured that they know what will happen next.
But sometimes when this cycle of routine occurs they get stuck in a rut and you lose learning opportunities and it gets very challenging to teach them something new.
I create routines and don’t even think of them as a routine but for Cody, IT’S A ROUTINE and can become an pragmatic. I have learned to be more flexible and shift my responsibilities to ensure that we don’t get stuck in a circuit doing the same thing every day. For example, after his therapy session each day there is a 15 minute window where I typically come down from work, feed the dogs, Cody requests for Preschool Prep Math Facts or Wonder Pets and as soon as therapist leaves from logging their data, we then go do something fun! That 15 minute window is a routine for Cody and in my eyes it’s just managing life so we can do something fun next! What happens is when Cody is being pushed to learn a new program that may be pushing him outside his comfort zone, he will quickly only respond by trying to request that same TV show over and over so he does not have to experience change.
Then you get stuck in that circuit of not learning new things each day. We work very closely with Cody’s team to trick this up when we start seeing these behaviors pop up.
Most times though we have to balance because too much change will not result good. At times when change occurs, we know our children may respond in a variety of ways, including exhibiting withdrawal, repetitive behaviors, tantrums, or even aggression.
We know these behaviors poke their sneaky little heads out because of extreme anxiety and/or inability to communicate their emotions/desires.
There is so much we can do to help manage change and transitions in our child’s life and it’s up to us to learn what works best for them.
Today we created a calming corner in our living room. This consists of a huge stuffed bear and books. I am also going to search for a calming video to use in the event we may need more.
This week has been tough. Cody lost 2 therapists, gained two new ones and had less structure with his programs with potty training in motion. It was too much for me much less my superhero! Taking Brad’s advice and will hug him longer tonight.