It is well known that autistic children thrive in organized-scheduled structures because it gives them a sense of certainty and recognition. However, when we fail in providing them the right structures, they will express it in different ways that might not necessarily look like tantrums or bad behaviors.
Today we will explore some signs/red flags that indicate a need for necessary boundaries and educational structure.
Does Your Child Need More Structure?
Without routine or structure, autistic children suffer from a lot of anxiety. Consequently, they will experience a higher amount of meltdowns in an attempt to feel in control.
A good way to recognize if your child is in need of structure is by observing his/her behaviors. If they insist increasingly on following their own behaviors or ritualistic routines ( wearing only a red shirt, watching only a specific TV show, etc) it can be a sign that they are in need of schedules and organization.
Behavioral Red Flags
If your child is in desperate need of a more structured home, it will be manifested in the following behaviors:
- Transitioning issues -especially bedtimes, morning routines, homework routines, etc.
- Compliance issues
- A child not initiating activities on his/her own (if bored, they just bother their parents instead of finding something to do)
- Siblings never seeming to get along – they may intentionally annoy one another or regularly fight.
- Difficulty keeping the house clean; things never seem to get put back in their place, items always seem to be lost, the child’s stuff is everywhere (especially toys).
- The child never plays independently, or he/she can’t play without supervision (even if they’ve reached an age where this should be possible)
How To Build More Structure At Home
A simple way to bring more structure at home starts by:
- Structured environment
- Structured time/schedule
- Preparation for unexpected situations
This involves creating specific places for specific activities in the house. Although it might sound like you need a 100 acres house, it’s not true. A structured environment can look as simple as a predictable space and routines for specific activities:
- A set “calm down” space, it can be a little chair in his/her room.
- A set play place for toys, it can even be a small play mat.
- A consistent routine (ex. Brush teeth, story, lights out at the same time every day)
- A visual chart for house chores or small tasks.
- Themed days of the week, such as “Taco Tuesday”, “Sunday Funday”, or “Saturday at the Pool”, etc.
Structured time can look like following the same task routine every day so your child knows what’s coming next.
Using visuals is a great way to achieve this for it can help your child process better what is coming next. The following image can provide you with an idea of how to create one.
Preparation For Unexpected Situations
Life is never linear and it is impossible to control everything that could mess or interrupt your planned schedule. However, when this happens you can always help your child face it with the following tips:
- Be prepared with snacks all the time.
- Take your iPad in case of downtime or waiting lines.
- Have one of his/her favorite toys always in reach, a finger spinner in the car is always a good idea.
- Take a pair of earplugs in case you face a noisy situation.
Remember that life is filled with unexpected situations and things that are out of our control.
Keep in mind that this process takes time and that important things are built with patience and perseverance. You got this!
At WSCC, we offer support for autistic families and their children with Stem Cell Therapy treatments that can transform autistic conditions by healing the gut, decreasing inflammation and improving brain function. We also created an on Facebook that is destined to offer support and companionship for ASD parents and their families on their journey.
Remember, you are not alone!