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Changing the Clocks and Schedules for Kids with Autism

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schedule for kids with AutismDon’t let the upcoming time change upset your child. The shift to Daylight Saving Time doesn’t have to have a negative impact on your household. Adjusting the clocks forward or backward can a big adjustment for anyone. When you have a child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who thrives on routine it can be disruptive.

Question: How can you help your child spring forward happily along with the clocks?

Answer: Stick to a schedule.

Why? Schedules and routines are an extremely important part of any child’s life. Having a schedule and sticking to it in times like these will help your child with special needs feel a sense of stability despite the loss of an hour. Even though they may not realize an hour has vanished, their body’s internal clock will detect it. Depending on the child, springing forward can have a significant impact on a child with autism.

Question: What are the benefits of maintaining a schedule?

Answer: It will diminish your child’s anxiety.

How? Anxiety is normally an issue for most children on the spectrum and switching to Daylight Saving Time has the potential for triggering a state of worry or stress. When the timing of things like bedtime, getting up and getting ready for school typically happened in the light or dark and suddenly this is different, it can easily create anxiety or resistance in a child with autism. Maintaining the same routine in all other respects will help prevent anxiety levels from increasing further because it will reassure your child that everything else is staying the same. Knowing what to expect makes life more predictable and therefore less stressful.

Children with autism often have many appointments with therapists, doctors and other professionals – sometimes there will be more than one appointment in a day. Keeping a schedule will not only help you and your child anticipate appointments but will ensure you don’t miss them as well.

Schedules can be extremely helpful when trying to get a child to do something they do not want to do. Let’s face it – going to the doctor’s is not much fun but simply showing a child that after they do one thing they will get to move onto something else can help motivate them from one task to the next.

Some children on the autism spectrum will benefit from having a visual schedule. Having pictures for all the daily activities allows them to see what is coming next and will help avoid some emotional breakdowns. Keeping the schedule posted where your child can refer to it often is helpful. If you ever have to make a change in the schedule explain the shift to your child as soon as possible and transfer the pictures on the calendar to the newly designated date and time.

There will always be things that come up on occasion and have the potential to throw a child’s world out of whack, day or night. When troublemakers like Daylight Saving Time show up and get you off track, the best thing to do is to try to get back on it as soon as you can.

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