While all children benefit in some way from routine in their day to day lives, children with autism thrive on it and want it! As a parent of a child with autism it is very important to establish a daily routine in your child’s life. Routines provide predictability and relieve much anxiety and uncertainty about what is happening around them. A routine allows your child to have greater control over their environment. This section will give you some great tools and ideas to use in your home.
A Daily Visual Schedule
The use of visual schedules can help the child better understand expectations, thus reducing the likelihood of negative behaviors. A visual schedule is a line of pictures, objects, or words that represent each major transition during the day.
How do I make a visual schedule?
- Break the child’s day into several steps represented by pictures. (Include even minor steps as needed.)
- Have a picture for each activity so the child knows what is expected.
- Determine how the schedule will be used (transition strips, transition pockets, mobile schedule).
I made mine in a standard binder. Used velcro on the cover. When my son was done with the first expectation, he would take it off and put it in the inside binder sleeve marked “all done.” Then he continued on to the next expectation.
Here are some links to free printables:
For older children, like my son, you can write a step-by-step schedule on a dry erase board. This can be useful with morning routines, daytime or night routines.
Ah, the dreaded word, POTTY TRAINING! Every child with ASD are different so the approach to potty training is different for everyone. Here are some tips to help you out. Will all the tips work? NO. Pick the tips that are best for you and your child.
Tips for potty training
- Goal setting: try to set a goal for 6 toilet sits per day. At first, trips to the toilet will be very short (as little as 5 seconds per trip), with one longer trip each day to work on bowel movements. Over time, toilet sits can be long (up to 10 minutes). Setting a timer can be a helpful way to let your child know when the toilet sit can end. Your child also is allowed to get up from the toilet immediately if s/he urinates or has a bowel movement. It’s a good idea for boys to be taught to sit on the toilet to urinate until they regularly have bowel movements on the toilet.
- Do not wait for your child to tell you they need to use the bathroom or to say “yes” when asked if they need to go. Tell them it is time for a toilet trip!
- Plan toilet trips around your usual routine. Stick with the same times of the day or the same daily activities.
- Make a Visual Schedule. Pictures may help your child know what to expect during toilet trips.
- Use simple language for each toilet trip. Be consistent with the language.
- Reward, reward, reward!
- Increase your child’s diet with more fluids and fiber so your child has the urge to go.
- Make sure your child is comfortable on the potty. Some children can’t stand their legs dangling; get them a foot stool.
- Keep your child’s sensory needs in check. If a certain feel, smell or sound bothers them in the bathroom, figure out how to change it.
- Have a lot of underwear on hand. I suggest they wear underwear, then put a pull-up over the underwear. Your child needs to feel wet, but this prevents the rest of their clothing (and your couch) from being wet.
- Use logic. I wouldn’t start potty training if you’re leaving for vacation in two weeks!
- Be positive! This is very scary for your child. They’ll eventually get it.