3 Ways to Help your Child Deal with Routine Changes

Even though you and your child worked hard together to create a daily schedule, sometimes things happen that are out of your control and it is hard to anticipate when a change in routine may need to occur.

Here are 3 ways you can help your child deal with dealing with unexpected changes in routine:

1. Incorporate Additional Options/More Choice into your Schedules

This is a more proactive approach. Have a “plan B” or other options to choose from to replace the activity in the schedule that can no longer occur. Your child can choose from an “Activity Bag” or choose from a list of other activities they could do instead.  If possible, include your child in creating this “plan B” list from the beginning when you are first creating your schedule for the day/week.  This can help prepare them for using the plan B list if needed.

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2. Identify a Relaxation Strategy

If you think your child may get upset due to a change in the schedule, try to identify a relaxation technique that is useful for your child to help them regulate their emotions and calm down. Some children may take some deep breaths or some may like to squeeze something. You can help teach relaxation techniques ahead of time and coach your child through these techniques when needed.

3. Reward Being Flexible

Praising and drawing extra attention to your child whenever they accept any unexpected change, will let them know that doing so was great and that you encourage them to do it again.  You can reward acceptance to any small changes that occur on a regular basis to help generalize the same response to bigger changes that may occur.

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Dettmer S, Simpson R.L, Myles B.S & Ganz J.B. (2000) The use of visual supports to facilitate transitions of students with autism. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 15, 163–169.

Erin Oaks Kids (2012). Supporting Transitions.

                https://www.erinoakkids.ca/ErinoakKids/files/f7/f7301e00-f3d7-42d4-9239-       5a16e9c516f4.pdf

Hume, Kara. (2008). Transition Time: Helping Individuals on the Autism Spectrum    Move      Successfully from One Activity to Another. The Reporter 13(2), 6-10. Retrieved March 17,   2020 from https://www.iidc.indiana.edu/irca/articles/transition-time-helping-individuals-on-the-                autism-spectrum-move-successfully-from-one-activity-to-another.html

Tustin R.D. (1995). The effects of advance notice of activity transitions on stereotypic behavior. Journal     of Applied Behavior Analysis, 28 91–92.

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