‘I can’t get my child to listen to me at home. WHY?’ ‘How can I make my child do just ONE house chore?’ ‘During the school holidays, he'll just lie on the bed all day doing nothing.'
These are some of the common questions we get from parents and the question we often ask them back is ‘Does your child have a schedule at home to follow?’ Most of them shook their heads in return. Home schedules are VERY important for children with ASD. Besides the fact that children with ASD like routines, the schedules provide information of what they are expected to do at home in a structured manner.
Children with autism are much more comfortable when they know what are the set of expectations beforehand, how many tasks do they need to do and when can they get their reward. In other words, they function better with structure.
Still not buying in the idea of a home schedule? Let’s run through some of its benefits:
1. Decrease in Undesirable Behaviour
When children know what is coming next, what is expected of them and when they can get their reward, they are likely to comply. If they are given orders task after task, the child wouldn’t know when it is going to end and the chances are, they’ll get frustrated and might not listen to you altogether.
After establishing the routine, parents find that they can get their children do a list of things without spending most of the time yelling at them. Wouldn’t it be nice to have your child completing his homework, helping you setting the table for dinner and even taking a shower without constant reminders from you? Say good bye to hectic days!
3. Enforcing Rules
By implementing a schedule, you are also enforcing them to follow the house rules. If your child tries to play before completing his homework, you can refer to the schedule and say ‘Remember. Do homework first then play.’ It sounds better than saying ‘You cannot play unless your homework is done!’. YES, it might be difficult at first but when they see you are having a firm stand on following the schedule, they will learn to follow the rules.
4. Develop Independence
Believe it or not, after the routine has been established, your child will be able to do the tasks on his own even when you are not around! Once your child has gotten used to following the schedule, do allow the child to take part in the creation of the home schedule. This gives them a sense of responsibility in scheduling their tasks at home.
5. Increase Flexibility
What?! How can they be more flexible with rigid schedules? We know that children with ASD have difficulties adapting to changes. By using the schedule and showing the upcoming changes, you are teaching them that changes are acceptable and we cannot avoid them. This can be done by the daily checks of schedule in the morning before starting the day.