Over and Over Again
Having a routine provides a sense of predictability and security for any given day for adults as well as children. As adults, we enjoy our routines and resent disruptions. In comparison, how do you think children feel when their schedules are up-ended?
Children, even more than adults, thrive with routine. However, those with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) find it exponentially harder to willingly accept any changes in their preferably scheduled day.
Among the traits common in individuals with ASD are showing restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior. For example, you will notice that children with ASD play with one specific toy or engage in the same activity of their choice over and over again. This rhythm calms their anxiety and provides a sense of security.
In addition, this love of repetition is seen when children with ASD insist in not only doing the same thing over and over again, but doing it in the exact same way. They are intolerant of any deviations from their preferred individualistic routines. For example, when completing a simple puzzle, some children with ASD place the pieces by order from left to right every time they do that puzzle. Not only in sedentary play do they display rigid behavior, but also when journeying from one point to another. For example, when snack time rolls around, they will walk to the cabinet from the door as a starting point and go back to the snack table by a different path. Even as passengers in a car traveling to a beloved grandparents’ home, if the route is altered, the change can trigger a tantrum.
“Every day, in 100 small ways, our children ask,
- Do you hear me?
- Do you see me?
- Do I matter?
Their behavior often reflects our response.” L. R. Knost
Like adults, children with ASD rely on routine for a sense of well-being and comfort. Therefore, it is important to maintain a structured schedule for these children. Equally important is teaching them ways to adapt to changes and to express themselves appropriately when they feel anxious as a result of these changes.
At SKILD, the Day Program (ABA Program) provides children with a structured and diverse schedule with opportunities to learn, take breaks, let their energy out, and engage in group activities. Please contact SKILD for a free consultation to tell you more about the program.