Routines are the bedrock of daily life, especially for children with autism. Creating a consistent daily schedule is one of the best things we can do for our families. It reduces stress, prevents unwanted emotions, establishes calm and order, and encourages shared family activity.
It's a win-win for parents and our kids. What’s not to love?
Research has long-touted the importance of daily routines for children of all developmental and learning abilities, both at home and in school. In fact, studies show children with daily routines have a 47% increased likelihood of maintaining strong social-emotional health as they grow older.
And they’re not just for improved mental and physical health. Daily routines can also:
Eliminate power struggles
Build the parent-child connection
Help kids take ownership of their own activities
That last one is particularly important in the development progress of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
While the spectrum of autism is vast and diverse, there are common challenges. Daily schedules help alleviate some of these challenges. In particular, they capitalize on two things most children with autism can appreciate: predictability and patterns.
Knowing what to expect at certain times every day, may decrease destructive (and non-constructive) behaviors that typically arise when unfamiliar events occur. Routine provides a comfortable, safe place to easily return to while adjusting to new situations. Likewise, many autistic children are averse to certain tasks but have no issues completing others. Daily schedules enable the child to understand that completing unwanted tasks is a necessary prerequisite to moving on to the preferred task. They are an incredibly powerful tool if used often and correctly.
Editor's note: This information is not meant to diagnose or treat and should not take the place of personal consultation, as needed, with a qualified healthcare provider and/or BCBA.