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How to help your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder maintain routines over the summer

Summer is often a time of fun and relaxation for children and their family! As your child with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) shifts from days in school to days at home, the importance of consistency and routine is crucial.  

When you forgo routines for your child who thrives in consistency, it can cause them to lose interest in new activities, become anxious about their environment and worry about what is going to happen next. 

Continue reading for important information from our clinical team that can help you maintain routines and expectations for your child during the summer months! 

Plan ahead by establishing a schedule and trying to stick to it as much as possible 

Children on the autism spectrum do not typically do well with unexpected changes and prefer the known. We can help to ease any discomfort in our child’s routines changes by:  

  1. Setting a consistent routine and schedule early on and sticking to it whenever possible.  
  1. Learning to tolerate changes in their daily schedule.  

If you are looking for additional information on creating routines at home with your child, you can register for an upcoming parent education workshop through our website here

Prepare your child for changes by letting them know in advance what to expect 

Once a consistent routine is set up, it is important that changes are introduced well in advance with a plan in place. Learning to tolerate changes is a very important life skill for your child and can be aided by embedding small changes into a well-established routine.  

Flexibility can be taught within a structured routine through the use of: 

  1. Warnings in advance of upcoming changes on a calendar.  
  1. Inserting a planned surprise within the established daily routine. 

Our children often see change as scary and undesirable, but you can show them that it can be exciting and pleasant. For example, a surprise slot on the schedule could mean extra time at a preferred task or a special privilege like choosing the game to be played. 

If you are having difficulties incorporating flexibility into your child’s routine, consider additional one-on-one support through Kinark’s Brief Behavioural Consultation. You can learn more about this service and complete the interest form on our website here

Use visual supports to help support your messaging

Parents and caregivers can help their child to understand and cope with change by using visual supports. Much like we use our planner or device to manage change in our own lives, the use of calendars, visual schedules, visual timers, and social narratives can prepare your child for what is to come. Visual supports help your child with changes by: 

  1. Adding predictability to an unpredictable world; 
  1. Providing information on when to transition from one activity to the next; and 
  1. Explaining an upcoming change. 

Check out the Parent Resources section of our Kinark Kreates videos for helpful information on how to create different visual supports for your child! 

If you found this information helpful, you can sign up for our mailing list here to be the first to know about new blog posts and resources. You can also connect with us on our Facebook and Instagram pages for weekly resources from our team.   

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