David and Hilla Buttigo of Oak County, MI son’s Neil was diagnosed with autism at an early age, thanks to an alert neighbor who was a regular visitor to their home. The Buttigo couple initially struggled with coming to terms with the diagnosis and its potential long-term effect on the family. In the best interest of Neil and their family, they signed up with an agency specializing in Autism Care and behavior therapy. A Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) was assigned to the Buttigos and started working with the family. As part of the therapy, the BCBA emphasized that rules and routines, whether in educational institutions or in the house, allow persons with ASD to excel in various tasks & activities and minimize maladaptive behavior. Routines enable the creation of an efficient ambiance as well as save valuable time. When a routine is established, things become easier and activities on a daily basis are easy to manage. Thus, it was important for the Buttigos to formulate a personalized daily routine for Neil.
Just as the Buttigos were advised on the need for a daily routine and its benefits for the whole family, others must also establish the same for their ward. To aid you in this endeavor, we have prepared some simple steps on achieving the same at home:
1. Make a list of all the daily tasks you would like your child to complete, as well as the steps required for them to do so to enable success by the end of it. For example, it could be a simple act like going to bed at night. It could be broken down into the following steps:
· Brush teeth in the bathroom
· Wash face with face wash/soap and water. Next pat dry with a hand towel
· Change into pajamas for bed
· Read one or two stories in bed
· Turn off the lights
2. Use the steps to complete any task to make an easy–to–follow schedule for your child, with the guidance/supervision from a family member or caregiver. The schedule created can be in the form of a task list, picture essay or video to play over and over. You can take a picture of your child undertaking each step and curate a visual schedule that can be referred to by the child when need be. Stick this schedule in the room or bathroom at eye level for the child for easy access.
3. Use a timing device or even an alarm system to signal the start of a task or allocate a certain time for the beginning of a task. For example, a time alert for 7 PM daily would indicate to the child the beginning of the “post dinner” routine.
4. Repeatedly refer to the schedule throughout the routine. Praise or reward for steps and tasks completed.
5. Be consistent with the routine on a daily basis. Each step for the completion of the task has to be followed diligently and in the same order, with as little variation as possible.
Any new routine takes time to be learned by the child. Be consistent and patient. Once the child starts completing the tasks without help/prompting, they may not require the visual aids. Over time, slowly and steadily your child will master the tasks with each one performed without major issues or hiccups. It is a victory for all involved.