Anyone who loves someone with ASD knows that routines, sameness, schedules, and rituals are extremely important to them. The slightest change in something we may think to be minor could cause major meltdowns that last for days. For the them, these things are more than a need... they are a requirement!
Routines, schedules, rituals and habits all provides comfort and predictability in a world that is, all too often, chaotic and unpredictable. We all resist change regardless of
our mental status. It keeps chaos at bay, so we get the peace of mind that we need.
"According to Dr. Laura Markham (Elkins, n.d.), routines offer additional advantages of reducing or eliminating power struggles, initiating cooperation, teaching/learning to manage one’s own activities, teaching/learning the concept of anticipation, help adherence to schedule, and help parents and other caregivers with “maintaining consistency in expectations.”
ASD individuals, all these benefits apply, but consequences going off the routine, having change in their lives is much more severe.
As some of you may know we are having some construction done on our house to expand the living space. Doc is very much the routine queen, but I was hoping this would not affect her. She was a bit worried yesterday when they officially started. Asking lots of questions like "What are they doing? Why?" as she looked out the door. After the workers left I took her out to swing (it's part of her routine), then we went to check out what they did . "Why did they break our house?!" She asked "So it can get bigger! Won't it be nice to have more space?" I said. She thought for a bit.. "I need to doctor it." She said, as she placed some dandelions in the dirt where the porch once was...closure. I remember thinking that went well.
Today started off just like any other day, waited for the buses, dropped Hulk off at school, then coffee & a Boston Cream donut for Doc (also in her routine). I had to take Mr. Magnificent to a doctor's appointment. Doc would be going to spend time with Horsey. That right there was enough to issue a severe thunderstorm watch in Holland!
After we drop Mr. Magnificent off at school, we went home. I knew she had a tough morning as I carried her into the house, asleep. She promptly woke up and requested "little kids shows" (Disney Jr), as she does everyday. I tried my best to keep the rest of her day "normal". At 3:10pm it was time to wait for the buses, I buckled her in to her carseat and headed down. She always gets agitated whenever she's in a motionless car, so Holland issued tornado watch. Crying and promises that she'd stay seated filled the car. She wanted out!
After Hulk got off the bus I unbuckled her to wait for Tink. The atmosphere quickly changed to a tornado warning, she had no choice but to give in. One of biggest meltdowns I have ever experienced. All I could do is ride it out with her till it was over. The storm slowly passed at home. Exhausted and so over this day, she gladly welcomed bedtime, as did I. We take each day as it comes here in Holland, hoping for brighter skies soon.
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