Routine and structure are incredibly beneficial for autistic children. But, how can you use routine to help with meltdowns? While it may not prevent them from happening, having some structure and routine in place, goes a long way.
Why a Predictable Routine Helps with Meltdowns
A predictable routine helps with reducing meltdowns in autistic children because:
- You are providing structure
- You are helping your child have control over their day
- You are helping your child with stability
While you can’t absolutely predict your entire day, you can at least help by providing a general outline for your child’s day. For example, if you have a similar morning routine every day of the week or afterschool routine; you can help your child by setting up a visual schedule.
When your child knows what’s coming, they can prepare easier.
On the other hand, having so much structure could work against you. When you are off of your usual schedule, your child may react with a meltdown. Obviously, you can’t schedule meltdowns into your day. But, you can at least adjust your schedule accordingly and help your child get back on track.
How to Set Up a Routine to Help Prevent Meltdowns
As it was mentioned above, if your child has a predictable routine in the morning, afterschool, or evening; you can set up a simple visual schedule. Start simple and have patience.
- Evaluate your mornings and look for a pattern of behavior or repetition of activities
- Evaluate your afterschool routines
- Evaluate your evening routines
Where do you have similarities over the course of a week? Are your weekends drastically different from your week days? You will need to accommodate for these changes, as well. And while you don’t want to plan out to the exact minute, provide enough structure for your child to feel comfortable.
One way that you can do this is with my daily routine chart & cards pack.
This is a growing and evolving resource and will also have a video component to show you how to set up a visual schedule for the home, school, and to take on the road. That way, even when you aren’t at home; your child can still have that control for their day.
I will add, once again, while a routine cannot prevent meltdowns from happening, when you have a routine in place? You are at least helping your child establish and maintain control over one part of their day.