How To Take The Headache Out
Of Autism Routine And Structure
Being on the Autism Spectrum has its challenges but one of the things that help me is having a visual schedule. I am going to talk in this article about Autism routine and structure.
Does Having A Routine Help People With Autism?
Yes, having a daily routine helps people on the spectrum. Having a routine is a ritual for us. When I don't have a routine I feel off and lost for what to do.
How Does Autism Affect Daily Life?
I am an Autistic person and it has a big impact on my life. There are some days where it does not get too complicated. But there are some other days where I struggle with information overload.
For those who do not know what information overload is I will tell you. Information overload is when we take so much information in that our brain cannot process it all at once.
When we have information our brain literally turns off and screams I can't take it anymore and then we shut down. Autism can affect relationships with friends, family, co-workers, and everyday people that we meet.
Some people on the spectrum can't talk, write, read, etc. However, each Autistic individual is unique in their own ways.
How Does A Child With Autism Behave?
People with Autism Spectrum Disorder can behave in many different ways to certain things. However, I am going to focus on me for this example because I can't speak for everyone else regarding their feelings.
If something unexpected happens during my day that was not in my daily schedule I tend to feel overwhelmed. My behavior might start going south where I start feeling angry, anxious, upset, and many other feelings.
We can be taught to behave correctly but people with special needs need a routine. I know that I have repetitive behavior when it comes to changes to my schedule.
Having a new routine is hard and an unexpected change can make us go flying off the wall on a rant. Even though I have high functioning Autism I still struggle with this as well.
Why Do Individuals With Autism Find Changes To Their Routine Distressing?
The reason why we don't like change is because of the uncertain circumstances. We like things that we are familiar with.
If I went to my doctor's office expecting to see my doctor but a nurse sees me instead it will throw me for a loop. I will start asking why can't I see my doctor and play 100+ questions with the nurse.
How Does Change Affect A Child With Autism?
Everyone who is on the Autism Spectrum handles change differently. It does not matter if they are a young child or a young person change is hard for everyone.
What Are The Behavioral Extremes Seen On The Autism Spectrum?
There are a lot of emotional behaviors that we can experience on the Spectrum. According to Applied Behavior Analysis, the extremes seen on the Autism Spectrum include:
- Unusual and even obsessive levels of focus
- Repetitive Behavior
- Dependent on Routine
- Lack of Social Skills
- Difficult with verbal skills
- Anxiety in Disruption
Why Is Routine So Important To People With ASD?
Routines are not just important to people on the Spectrum. Everyone can benefit from having a physical structure in their lives. But the reason why it's important to us is that:
- We can visually see what is going on in our day
- Helps us plan things out
- We don't like it when something unexpected comes up
Why Do Autistic People Have Issues With Social Skills?
The reason why we have trouble with social skills is because of the following reasons: according to Autism Parenting Magazine, these are the social skills that are affected by Autism.
- Delays in speech
- Does not understand social cues
- Does not understand the feelings of others
- Difficulty understanding jokes
- Unable to carry on a conversation with his/her peers
- Repeats words and phrases over and over again
- Provides unrelated answers to questions
How To Avoid Autism Meltdowns?
Autism meltdowns might be avoidable in the classroom, at home, and many other places.
- Make sure we get to finish our morning routine
- Create a visual support calendar or to-do list
- Study our behavior closely so you can tell when something is off
- Reward us for our positive behaviors
- Make sure your family routines stay the same
How Do You Calm Down An Autistic Child?
When our schedules are thrown off we might start having an Autism meltdown. That's where every single emotion is pouring through our bodies at a rapid level.
When we reach that point it will start to become a challenging behavior for everyone. During this state, we are most vulnerable, and anything or anyone can set us off.
When dealing with this task tread carefully. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Ask them what is wrong
- Can you get them anything
- What will calm them down
- Share with them a social story
- Be patient
- Be there for them
- Listen to what they have to say
What Not To Do When Calming Down An Autistic Child Or An Adult?
When trying to calm someone down who is on the Autism Spectrum you should never do these in a social interaction with them:
- Don't yell at them because they do like loud noise
- Do not take away their favorite things until they are under control
- Never use restraint when calming them down
What Is Restraint?
Restraint is when a person takes the arms of an Autistic individual and wraps them around the front and grabs them from behind. Using restraint is dangerous and illegal in 30+ states in the USA.
Don't ask me what happened to the other 20 states because I think they fell asleep. Many children with ASD have died from restraint and it's very sad.
Having a routine is very important to people who are Autistic but schedules are also important to those who are not Autistic either. Keep in mind going forward we don't like unexpected changes.