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Friday, 3 October 2014

Routine

One of the first pieces of advice given to parents with autistic children is to put in place and maintain a clearly defined routine. It is often said that this can help the child in all aspects of their behaviour.
Now as I think about it in more detail, I have come to one conclusion. Not only people with autism, but everyone can benefit from having a solid routine in place. I don't condone having EVERYTHING scheduled, some things in life are spontaneous, such as using the bathroom and sleeping. With that being said I also don't think just letting children run about the house at the o'clock in the morning is a good idea either. You can not force the child to sleep, but you can set in place a routine for relaxing and having good sleep hygiene is seen as an important part of this. Baths, brushing teeth, sorting hair and clean cloths are all things can can help a child sleep in the long term. This is because of behavioural conditioning, simply the mind learns that certain activities or places are associated with certain acts or feelings. This type of conditioning can be seen in anyone who's lost someone who they was close with; if they hear the song used at the funeral it often instills sadness.
Not all conditioning is negative, when children are praised for having "good" behaviour. This is also conditioning, also know as positive reinforcement. For example, when teaching manners to children they are often rewarded for saying please by receiving what they asked for. There is no punishment used in this situation other than a lack of reward, this is positive reinforcement.
Anyway back to the subject at hand, even though I am 18, I still find routine comforting. I don't "need" it anymore but I want it, things like medication, and doing certain tasks like eating dinner. Also I have a strict bathing routine and all if this helps me to remain level headed.
All change to a set routine should be done progressively over a period of time. A good example of this for myself would be when school was starting after summer. My mum would hang my uniform up where I could see it and every day we'd count down the number of days it was until I started. That way there was no shocks or sudden changes that cause major behavioural issues.
Its important to not end up with a false sense of security, after all no matter how hard you try you can't control everything. One particular event always got to me, and that was substitute teachers, it was like my worst nightmare because I don't like change to routine and I have issues with strangers, both of these factors caused many clashes in class that never really went down to well with the school.
How do you, and your children get on with school? Why not drop a comment and let me know?

Thanks for reading and as always, try to remember a little patience can go a long way,

Ben.

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