Monthly Archives: November 2015

Helping Your Child on the Spectrum Cope with Change

Are you worried about your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, being out of their normal routine during the holidays? Are you looking for ways to help your child handle routine changes?

Here are some great ways that you can prepare your child on the spectrum for changes during the upcoming holiday season.

  1. Develop and Stick to a Routine – Your child on the spectrum is used to their regular routine, but just like any other change (such as the start of the school year, the transition into summer vacation etc.) the holiday season calls for its own type of routine in order to set the right expectations and build stability during this very special, but very hectic time of year. Make sure you prepare your child in advance for a shift in their regular schedule.
  2. Use Visuals –Whether it’s a calendar, a chart, or a picture board, visuals play a very important role in getting your child on the spectrum ready for, and able to, cope with change. Other tools for preparing children diagnosed with autism for a transition to a new schedule include a clock (for children who can tell time), kitchen timer, or wrist watch with a timer. These tools provide visual and auditory transition reminders or countdowns.
  3. Create an Organized Environment – Help your child on the spectrum successfully follow their routines by creating an organized environment at home. When it is easy for a child to locate what they need, it will be easier for them to follow a set schedule or routine.
  4. Use Transition Objects – If your child, who has been diagnosed with autism, has a difficult time transitioning from one part of their routine to the next, use an object or a transitional prompt to represent an activity change. For some children on the spectrum a five minute reminder between activities is a good way to prepare their child for a transition. For others, a detailed and visual chart with their daily routine/activities mapped out is what works best. Some children use flashcards with pictures of where they are going, what they will be doing and who they will see to ease the transition to a new location; for others, the security of having a familiar item from home when going to a new environment makes them feel safe

Expected and unexpected routine changes are part of life. Routines provide the structure many children need for moving through the day. We hope that some of these strategies for developing routines, as well as, ideas for helping children cope with schedule changes are useful to you this holiday season.

How to Prepare your Child for Guests or Visiting Family/Friends

With the Holiday Season fast approaching it’s important to start considering how having guests over at your home could possibly affect your child who has been diagnosed with autism. Below are some strategies to help prepare your child on the spectrum for having visitors and being a guest.

  1. Set Expectations: Whether your child is invited to the home of a friend of family member or if you are expecting guests in your home; your child on the spectrum should be aware of what to expect. If your child with autism is unfamiliar with whom they will be interacting with, it would be a good idea to show them pictures or talk to them about the people they can expect to see and speak to. Set expectations for behavior prior to the event by discussing activities that may be hard for them.
  2. Give your Child on the Spectrum Responsibility: Have your child with autism help you prepare the meal or set the table. If you are visiting someone else’s home, encourage your child to bring a gift like a box of candy or flowers for the host. Since most children are excited at the start of an event, a task early on can channel their energy into something productive.
  3. Encourage Manners: Teach your child on the spectrum to greet and say good-bye to others at a young age. Emphasize to your child that it is important to use polite words when interacting with guests. It is also very helpful to model appropriate behavior in front of your child every chance you get so that they learn by the examples that you set.
  4. Have Child Friendly Activities: When attending an event that is specifically planned for adults, bring books, movies, games and other activities that your child will be interested in so that your child who has been diagnosed with autism stays occupied and is able to can enjoy himself.
  5. Prepare for Differences in Rules and Expectations: Schedules and rules may change when visiting other people’s homes. For some children on the spectrum this can be very confusing. Let your child know when rules for an evening have changed. Tell them that instead of their usual bed time, they will be going to sleep later, etc.