Predictability and routines!! I know you have heard about these before and I know that some of you may feel that are not helpful, but the truth is that everyone can probably do with a refresher course on why predictability and routines are so important for children, especially for children with a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
It may seem counterintuitive to offer a child who loves to explore in their own way and in their own time, consistency and routine. I am the biggest advocate for play based learning and understand he importance of allowing children to explore the world around them, however, we all understand that at stages during our child’s day we need to leave some to learn some really important basic skills.
Learning basic skills such as dressing, eating, cleaning teeth, and transitions are done best when a child can anticipate each step of the process and therefore over time master each step of these complex skills. Some children on the autism spectrum can take a much longer time to learn the basic skills required for independence later in life, this doesn’t mean that we can give up. It means that we need to be there for them for the long haul. We need to show them that we will be with them each step of the way as they develop new skills. Offering children consistency, predictability, routines and visual supports to break down tasks into achievable steps provides them with the message that we are there for them. We are going to offer them the support they need for as long as it takes to enable them to learn new skills.
We need to be ready to celebrate when they do achieve each milestone, even if it takes a long time. But more importantly, we need to be there for them day after day, night after night offering them the tailored support they need to learn new skills.
Check out the Mummel Road visual supports for some inspiration on how to get started on your journey supporting your child.