Morning routines for children with autism should always be consistent. One of the hallmark characteristics of autism is an aversion to change. Therefore, a structured schedule that your child can depend on every morning will help him transition to the start of his day. Regardless of whether it is a school day, weekend or summer vacation, the routine must maintain consistency if melt-downs are to be avoided or reduced.
Your child has definite likes and dislikes when it comes to just about everything, including food. Working with these instead of against them will make the morning routine easier, according to autism expert Kenneth Roberson, Ph.D. Filling the pantry and refrigerator with foods your child is willing to eat takes away the meltdown over breakfast. If the only thing he will eat this week is peanut butter sandwiches, let him. Eating something for breakfast is better than eating nothing. Try to incorporate additional foods periodically to give him a well-rounded breakfast diet.
Choosing outfits the night before curbs clashing before your eyes are fully focused in the morning. Let your child pick out what he will wear the next day and lay it out at bedtime. Pay attention to sensory issues, clothing tag problems and other things that will create problems in the morning. Take care of it the night before so you will not have to rush him to choose clothing the next day. Work with his needs. If he is attached to a purple t-shirt and balks at wearing anything else, purchase several so he will always have a clean purple shirt to wear.
Early to Rise
Getting up with plenty of extra time to spare gives you both time to work through the morning routine without stress and pressure. Don't forget to have him go to bed a bit earlier each night to make up for early rising. Maintain the same bedtime and awake time each day. He craves routine and structure regardless of what day of the week it is.
A Picture Paints a Few Words
Using photos to diagram what is expected each morning will allow your child some independence. A chart that displays a photograph of him brushing his teeth, then getting dressed, then making his bed, takes the guesswork out of what he needs to do. Faced with too many choices can cause a meltdown. A picture chart shows him one step at a time.
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