10 August 2011


Clear Expectations

When I worked with children with autism, we always stressed the importance of keeping the child aware of routines, changes in routines, and expectations during those transition times.  Transitions are particularly hard for children with autism, but every child has difficulty to some degree, and depending on the change.  I don't know why I fail miserably at this with my own children, but time and again, I don't let them know what is coming or what is expected of them, and then I wonder why I end up with a meltdown.

One area that makes a huge difference (I've surprised myself with its success) is with a simple calendar.  Now that my kids can read, I just write changes or appointments on our whiteboard calendar, but when they were younger, I created a basic picture system.

you can find these painted, or
you can decorate them yourself
I bought wood cutouts at a local craft store.  There are usually bins of them, and they are quite inexpensive.  I bought things like buses, fish, crosses, cupcakes, cars, airplanes, and balloons to signify events such as school, swim lessons, church, birthdays, road trips, plane trips, and parties.  I attached magnets to the back of each one and put them on the calendar.  At the end of each day I let the kids put an X through the day so they knew it was finished, and how many more "sleeps" until an upcoming event.

My husband's career dictates that we deal with a lot of transitions, and this is one way the kids feel in control with all the uncertainty.  It makes sense that they would want some sort of stability, and knowing what's coming up helps tremendously.  I throw so many things at them without stopping to think how they will handle it, so I am happy to make this tiny effort.

Works for me.

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