Home > Topic of the Week > How do you or your child respond to a change in daily routine?

How do you or your child respond to a change in daily routine?

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How do you respond to a change in daily routine? What strategies help you deal with the change? Share your story with us.

  1. Christina
    February 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

    My son has a terrible time with change…We have to give as much warning as possible that things will be different on any given day…Things as simple as someone being gone (teachers, etc) He has to be told that he will have a replacement and for what amount of time…if he expects a certain thing to be for lunch and it changes, (even if he didn’t like it anyway) he has a breakdown if he didn’t know about it. We do our best to let him know in advance that something will be different..if we can’t, then we try to explain that sometimes things change and they are out of our control. Some days it just takes a lot of deep breaths to get through the day.

    • Sarah
      February 8, 2011 at 12:49 am

      My daughter has mild aspergers, and is finally 5 yeasr old. She is learning to control her out bursts , but it is mostly because we have the same day-to-day routine. She knows what is going to happen when, and if i look like I am going sllower than normal, she hurries me up to avoid a change. But if there is an unexpected change, her world is collapsing around her. We have learned to warn her before hand whenever possible, and as soon as possible. It may not stop the chaos, but it controls it a bit, brings it down a notch. but I can honestly say she is the most amazing and wonderful child i have ever known, and she is nothing but a blessing, even with her fits.

  2. Liz
    February 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

    My 11 year old (PDD-NOS) does HORRIBLE with change. We always have to warn him well ahead of time about a change to his routine or the head banging and biting himself will start. Would love to hear how other parents handle this.

    • kimberly roberts
      February 7, 2011 at 9:03 pm

      Hello, just posted about my son and what his teachers do to help him with changes at school. At home I keep to the same bed time schedule during the week and weekends. He will tell me when the clock goes 1 min past 8:00 p.m. His younger brother will tell him when it is time to go watch tv in my room before bed time and this helps him a lot. There is no easy answer. Do the best you can. I know it is frustrating but our kids look to us for security.

  3. February 7, 2011 at 11:14 am

    We had a blizzard here in Oklahoma and nothing has been routine for my son. He has reacted by being upset, not behaving and it seems like he’s constantly stimming!

  4. Stephani
    February 7, 2011 at 11:14 am

    I have to sons w autism… 15 and 5.. I have learned that w change u need to give them somthing of theirs that comforts them.. My 15 yr old is harder to do this w because of his age… I alwase explain to him what we r going to do and that if we can get threw it he can have an extra 30 mins game time… My 5 yr old we do the same and give him blueberry cereal bar for the ride there and ride back… He also has a blanky he turns to for comfort.. When its all said and done we all get threw the day and they have exprience something new…

  5. Lillette
    February 7, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I have aspergers and have a hard time with major changes or people saying they will be somewhere or do something at a certain time and not doing it. But small changes I have learned to be flexible with because I have 2 small children so nothing is ever perfect. Also my fiance is really good about trying to give me a heads of if his schedule changes at work or something…

    • February 11, 2011 at 2:49 pm


      I posted my son’s story and our discovery a couple of days ago. Please look at posting # 52 (Stephanie K Lambdin). Colt’s world has opened up. Like most of the folks responses, Colt was typical and had a very difficult time with change to the point of uncontrolled tantrums.

      A miracle, a gift has been placed in our hands and I want to share his story, his progress because I know that if it can help Colt, it will help so many others.

      God Bless,


      Please contact me if you would like to read his complete journal and/ or get more information on the study and supplements …

  6. Jennifer
    February 7, 2011 at 11:22 am

    It depends, sometimes he is okay with it and other times it is very hard on him. He doesn’t transition well most of the time from going from place to place. I have to make sure i tell him and explain to him where we are going and what we will be doing there. It seems to help alot but of course we have to keep repeating it. He may get upset which usually results in one of us (me or my husband) carrying him (which is hard because he is heavy and we have a 2 year old also) but we make it.

    • Carol
      February 8, 2011 at 6:57 pm

      Hi Jennifer
      I have an adult son with aspergers (and suspect that I may have it as well), and I also work with special needs children – many with autism. Transitions and schedules can be very difficult. You sound like a very caring and practical mom.
      If I am not being too forward,I would like to offer a sugestion if I may??
      What about spending a day out in the community with a digital camera – taking pictures of any place and anyone your son may associate with.
      Next, create a portable file box of these photos – and a laminated velcroed schedule that shows where he will be going, who he may see (being certain the pesrons will be there), and when he will return home. I would also suggest not giving him every little piece of information because that can leave a lot of room for error if someone or something is not there as he expects.
      Instead of telling him the same thing over and over, help him to be independent as he can point to where he is going next. You can say “Show me where we are going next”. A picture can be worth a thousand words and cconstant repetitions.
      If you feel you may want to try this, suggest to start slowly – using the schedule and photos on deliberate short trips at first, to buily his confidence and give the schedule more concrete reliability.
      I hope this suggestion will be of help for you and your son.

  7. Ellenora Hurt
    February 7, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Sometimes change can be difficult on my son.I try to keep as much structure as I possibly can.He has the same routine on a daily basis.Same bed time,same time he eats,bathe,and he gets up the same time every morning for school.This has also helped me out to.Being mommy/daddy to him and his siblings.Structure and routine are very necessary .I do know they’re are some parents who cannot follow daily routines because of work,school,etc.It’s very challenging.

  8. February 7, 2011 at 11:37 am

    It’s so interesting that this is today’s discussion topic as I just blogged about how fantastically blown apart our routine is right now and for a variety of reasons. My daughter (PDD-NOS) is struggling so hard with the interruption of her routine right now. Dropping her off at school is miserable. Tracy, we are in OK, as well and while snow days are fun, this has really thrown a wrench in the works! And we are expected to have even more this week. I haven’t figured anything out other than putting my head down and forging ahead. I try to stay calm when she’s melting down and encourage her with a quiet voice, lots of hugs, and make her repeat the words, “I can do it!” Then I go cry in my car. :(

  9. Kelly
    February 7, 2011 at 11:54 am

    I have a 5 year old son with autism. He flips out when there is a change in his everyday life. He will start screaming and miss behaven. I still do not know how to handle it.

  10. Molly
    February 7, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I consider myself EXTREMELY lucky because although my 8 year old with autism cannot fully understand all that I tell him, he is not at all bothered by a change in routine whether it be at home or at school. He just goes along with what is being done.

  11. Liz
    February 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    My son does remarkably well with change when he is prepared for it. With unforeseen changes, sometimes fine, sometimes not so much. The hardest thing is educating family about this. His aunts and uncles often make promises, then change plans, and he freaks out. My sister, for one, just shakes her head and calls him spoiled, although she knows his diagnosis. Drives me crazy.

    • Lisa Burkhalter
      February 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm

      People just don’t get it. Even if someone accepts the diagnosis I think they often still have such a difficult time really understanding how it affects behavior. So frustrating!

      • Lorri
        February 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

        I hear you there… my family says they get it but they really don’t they expect him to be able to do what his cousins do and are always comparing… There is no comparison!!!

      • Molly
        February 7, 2011 at 6:08 pm

        I also have problems with family, from my mother clear to my ex-husbands family who are clueless & still in denial. It’s very frustrating bc his father doesn’t see the need for a same routine. It’s not fair to the children…

    • Michelle
      February 8, 2011 at 12:00 am

      I hear you about family. They do NOT get it. We have stopped making plans with family because they are just TOO inconsistence and cannot follow through. The family was so upset because at Christmas we chose to not attend the family gathering. They still do not get it that our boy is petrified of dogs and they have three BIG dogs. And the kids running around hyped up on sugar drives him crazy. And the drive to there house is 85 miles all highway and the highway freaks him out, he would prefer the side roads. Family – UHGGG!!!!

  12. Lisa Burkhalter
    February 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I made a small change in the bedtime routine two nights ago and my seven year-old son became hysterical. I changed the order of things because my four year-old son that shares a room with him was not ready yet and it was past bedtime. I made a big mistake trying to change things! It is so hard for me, I loose track of time and get us off schedule and then try to change things to make the best use of time and my son just can’t handle it. I have to come up with a good time management system for myself so I can keep the routine for him.

  13. Kelly
    February 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

    My dd is 9 and is getting better. Teacher being out is the worst for her but she can tolerate small changes just fine now. Giving her a heads up is always best and she handles that part pretty good. But not knowing the sub for the day is always difficult and sometimes they will give a teacher she knows better but that can not always happen. I have 5 kids so for her she has had to grow up with changes.

  14. Tracy
    February 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    My son is 12 and has gotten better with change over time. He has a difficult time dealing with doctor appointments or school being cancelled (last minute) due to the weather. He knows that they will have to make up the school at a later time and can’t cope with that very well.

  15. angel
    February 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    We’ve found the best way to deal with change is to be prepared. Our son is 3 and has autism. He LOVES books so if we know about changes in advance we’ll get a book that we’ll read together (and he’ll study it himself) about the topic. For example, he just started preschool and will be taking the bus soon. We have a book called “Hello Schoolbus!” that we’ve been reading every day. We also point out and talk about every bus we see. We show him the buses at his school with kids getting in and out. We’ve also stopped to say hi to the bus driver that will be driving him. For unexpected changes, it varies. Sometimes he’s really bothered by them, sometimes he doesn’t seem to mind at all. When he’s bothered, we use coping mechanisms that soothe him- like deep pressure hugs. He also likes to be asked if he’s alright many, many times. For some reason, that’ll usually snap him out of a fit, and we’re fine asking him because we know it’s what he needs to cope.

  16. Nicole
    February 7, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Me and my son Corey go through change every week. Me and his Dad have shared custody of our 2 year old son and it takes a good day for him to get used to the change. We sometimes have good weeks and bad weeks. We both have different schedules for him unfortunatly and it can be a handful sometimes. I try to get his dad to try to stick with the same schedule but he says its his time with him and he’s not gonna stick to my schedule.

    • Lisa Burkhalter
      February 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm

      I can really relate to this. Every other weekend my kids go to their Dad’s and he does not follow the bedtime schedule and keeps the kids busier than I do. My seven year-old as well as my four year-old really have a hard time adjusting. It throws them off for a couple of days (sometimes a week) after they come back home. Not much I can do about it though.

    • Emie
      February 8, 2011 at 12:22 am

      I can relate, my son goes with his Dad every other weekend and he cries and throws tantrums when he has to go even with days of warning ahead of time. This is so hard on me and I cry every time he has to go. He screams out the window as they are driving away “Mommy please dont make me go”. It breaks my heart. His dad does not stick to a schedule with him either and I think it makes it very hard on Cayden. His father and I have had the conversation of routine multiple times and it does not help.

  17. Dolores Romero
    February 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    My seven year old brother has PDD-NOS and does not do good with a routine change. If his routine changes, his whole world is off track. He has to be notified of a change before hand in order to deal with it normally. He had to be spoken to calmly and told why his routine has been changed. In school, two hour delays throw him off and throw off his entire day. Within time, he will calm down and be back to normal again however, it makes life easier if we just stick to his normal everyday routine.

  18. Theresa Giordano
    February 7, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    My child has a hard time with change he will pitch a fit and throw his glasses and try to break anything in his way, we don’t know what will send him off its hit or miss with him.

    • Lorri
      February 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm

      Remember to always prewarn him of changes … the best way to avoid tose tantrums is to not have them! Also give him a approprate way to express those angry feelings. Maybe a punching bag, instead of throwing his glasses (can be expensive!)

  19. Maria Campuzano
    February 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    My grandson does not like changes!! If the change means staying home from school he likes it anything else ruins our whole day.

  20. Kim Immel
    February 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Our son is nine years old, he has autistic traits, and ADD, everyday is a challange,or an adventure, our son talks he can tell you what he needs, he can tell you if something hurts,as for change that is and always has been a big problem,I have TSA coming in the house, these people are great they have been very suportive,they work with daily needs, they help get him on the bus, to taking him on an outing once a week so mom and dad gets a break. our son is the most sweet and loveable little man it just takes a lot of patients and understanding. he gives the school a harder time than at home, but with school it is more structured,with a lot more transtions. for at home it is more of a relaxed setting.

  21. Lorri
    February 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    My son also has a hard time with change. I don’t think any person with a spectrum disorder likes change. With Joshua we handle it with humor … if it is possible or appropriate. If I can get him to laugh the whole world looks much better :O) BTW getting him to laugh usually is mom stubbing her toe or tooting or somthing silly. The trick with him is to kind of shock him out of his tantrim long enough for him to forget.

    • Mandy Zollinger
      February 7, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      I completely agree with that as well. My daughter responds well if we ‘lighten’ it a bit. We try to change the subject and get her thinking about things she does like and continue on with our routine.

  22. kathleen willie
    February 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    My grandson has trouble sleeping at night when his daily routine changes. We give him melatonin which does help settle him down enough to get to sleep, but often wakes at 2 or 3 a.m. and can’t go back to sleep. We have tried weighted blankets, playing sleep cds during the night. Nothing seems to help much. If anyone has had the same difficulty and has suggestions that they’ve found helped, we would appreciate it.

  23. Mandy Zollinger
    February 7, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    My daughter is still currently undergoing a medical diagnosis, however, the school believes she’s on the Autistic spectrum after working with her. She struggles with change and transition. She gets so upset, she coughs to the point of hyperventilation and sometimes even vomitting and shakes. It’s a horrible thing as a mother to watch. She’s struggled in going to her preschool class and so we recently met with her team and came up with some good strategies to help her. First off, we’re starting a picture schedule at home. I have a pictures of everything she does in a day that I made up and laminated and attached with velcro to the wall. At first, it stressed her out…she wanted to line up all the ‘like’ pictures and then stressed about coming up with her own. So, now I make her schedule for her and she knows what each picture means. Instead of doing one for the whole day, I do it 3 times a day so it’s not too overwhelming. This is helped a lot for her to have something to look at and to be able to ‘predict’ what’s coming next. The teacher at her school informs me if they are getting new kids in the class so I can prepare her.

    Dropping her off at school is so hard and after I walk away, I always seem to cry. But, I know…that I need to push her a bit so she can learn and in the end, that’s what keeps me going. :)

    • kathleen willie
      February 8, 2011 at 4:45 pm

      We use the picture schedule also. All I can say is it’s “fantastic!” At first I was skeptical about the whole thing, but now I can’t say enough about it. It’s made a world of difference. We also break down the day into morning and afternoon and evening, otherwise my grandson would want to skip ahead to the things he enjoyed doing, trying to avoid things he didn’t want to do. I also had a bracelet made with pictures attached that I can take with when we do errands or visit family. This seems to work well also.

  24. Melody
    February 7, 2011 at 4:22 pm

    My 5 yr old needs a heads-up if there are changes. If it is last minute, I have to be creative and make an adventure out of the new plans. He has bonded with his Teacher, so she gives me notice if she is going to be out…My son will not stay with a sub. If we continue with this prob next year, I’m hoping he can go to her class for the day to do his work. That worked for my older son who is ADHD and Bipolar, he can’t handle change either.

  25. Pam Dungan
    February 7, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    My 11yr old son has a hard time with transitioning but he has gotten a lil’ better the older he gets. When he was younger it was a nightmare to take him to the play ground…when it was time to I would have to drag him away kickn’ and screaming. It broke my heart I didn’t know what to do. I always try to warn him if something changes if not then he gets very upset. I remember the first time we took him to Walt Disney World. We wanted to surprise him so I told him we were taking a vacation but I didn’t tell him where.I thought he would be excited and he was but after about an hour and a half he was ready to leave since he couldn’t see Buzz Lightyear,his favorite. We had waited for almost an hour but he never came back out. He has very lil’ patience also..if he wants something he wants it right then or if he wants to go somewhere or leave then he wants to then not tomorrow because “he can’t wait that long”. I told him he needed to be more patient and he said what’s patience? I try to keep a routine with him that helps out alot as long as he knows what to expect. He is helping plan our next trip and seems excited about it.I really do believe his school has helped out alot. Everyone works together to help and they have. He has come such a long way. I also do a count down and that seems to help some..for ex.If I want him to turn off the tv or stop playing a game I tell him he has 30mins left..then 15 mins..then 5 mins…he still may get a lil’ upset but not as bad as if I were to just take it away. He does do some stuff I still not sure what to do though like when he acts like a baby. I tell him he is a big boy but he still acts babish when he with me at times. He is very smart just not mature as an 11yr old should be. Could it be my fault since he’s my only child? What can I do to help him more? Any suggestions?

  26. Mamma
    February 7, 2011 at 7:51 pm

    My son with Aspergers is nearly 17- we don’t have a lot of day to day issues with this any more, but when he was in the early elementary grades it was a nightmare. I used to carry around a number of pocket-sized notepads. I would create lists or write notes for him of things that would be different. I never spoke to him about it- I just left the notepad in the backseat of the car. He would read through the lists or notes and would then be able to visually process the changes- as long as the last item was always “Go Home”.

  27. kimberly roberts
    February 7, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    My 11 year old son is dx with PDD-NOS. Change is hard for him. The teachers at his school have to tell him a few days ahead of time if something is going to change in his schedule then remind him up to the day. This helps him deal with change better. At home, we try to surprise him with trips and other things but then the thousands of questions start and the anxiety starts. He starts 6th grade this fall and it scares me to death. Talk about CHANGE!

  28. Betsy
    February 7, 2011 at 9:02 pm

    My son Nathan flips out. If things are not the same day in, day out he is really confused, upset, angry, pretty much everything. He first starts getting hives from the stress of something being different. He will start shaking his head, he squeaks, whines like the dog. He eventually paces the hallway, he walks on his tippy toes. He does things with his fingers (keeps moving them, twisting them). If you don’t figure out what the change was in time he will chew on his lip and bang his head. Since he is only 2 1/2 I don’t have a proper diagnose for him, though the family doctor believes he is autistic, I can’t get the proper help,and I am so tired of the lack of sleep, he is one of 4 kids, he requires most attention. But he is my Nathan!

  29. Rose
    February 7, 2011 at 10:02 pm

    We use a writen schedule, and I go over it while we write it(he needs to be part of writting it) then we go over it when we are done, and go over it while getting ready for the next thing, and when we have to change something from the schedule we agree that it sucks but together we can make it through because mommy is as mad or bumed as he is. I really act out how I see him feeling so then he starts to comfort me;> Or we just sit and rock it out, in the chair with his blankies.

  30. Teresa
    February 7, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    My son is going to be 14 next month and he has Autism. Him and I sit down and discuss the pros and cons of what ever is changing and he is happy with that. He is very logical and I feel lucky about this.

  31. Juian
    February 7, 2011 at 11:49 pm

    My 5 yr old son is surprisingly good with changes in a daily routine, he’s ok with doing something different everyday, but he has what I describe as micro-routines, which means he has to do everything in his own certain way and any disruption of that will send him into a meltdown. For example he has to push the buttons on the van door (our van has code entry buttons) each time before he climbs into the van. If we or sometimes he forgets, and we start driving off, he flips out. And these kind of meltdowns send him into like an overloaded mental state where nothing will appease him, he just screams and cries.

  32. Michelle
    February 7, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    Change is such a hard thing to deal with, we are in Arizona but the weather here still effects what his normal routines are like because it has been abnormally cold. The last two weeks his schedule has been off because he was sick and then when he was better it was to cold to have recess or fishing or playing basketball after school. And if a teacher is out; what an evening we are in for at home. He recently lost 2 aides that are not even in his class but participate with basketball at recess; he was at a loss for weeks. He has been stemming alot these last couple weeks and unfortunately that is him pulling a piece of hair out at a time and running it under his finger nails. Poor baby has a bald spot on the crown of his head. The weather is warming up this week and hopefully things will start to get back to normal soon for him.

  33. Emie
    February 8, 2011 at 12:17 am

    My 8 almost 9 in a month year old son has Aspergers. He does horrible with change, I on the other hand work on an Ambulance and work 24-48 hour shifts. He is used to going to Grandmas when I work this shift because he has been doing it since he was a baby, but I do have to let him know way ahead of time and keep reminding him of when he’s sleeping at Grandmas. If its something that changes with no warning we have major tantrums, alot of times I can talk him through it. He also as a previous poster said has a blanket as a comfort object which he takes with him alot, even into Dr. appts. This leads to alot of stares from people, but I dont care. I had alot of problems with family not getting it also, they know the diagnosis but still dont get it. My son also has ADHD, Anxiety Disorder and Emotional Disorder. Alot of times I get the comments that he is just a spoiled brat, we do compromising in my house because I have found that discipline does NOT work with him. Kathleen my son has not to this day slept throught the night, unless he sleeps with me so I also am open to suggestions. He also takes Melatonin, but seems to do nothing for him. Good luck all, I am so happy to have found you all, as a single mother this is very hard.

    • Teresa
      February 8, 2011 at 10:08 pm

      I have the same issues as you, the melatonin stopped working, he now takes Clonidine (spelling?) and sleeps through the night like a champ, he is 11 years old and has been on Lithium as well a slew of other medications for years to no avail. Kudos to you I am also a single mom three years after my husband dies and I still struggle on a daiky basis to try and help my kids live daily life!

  34. Emie
    February 8, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Just a quick question for you all. Does your child always have to be different than everyone else? Example: We live in Wisconsin, we are die hard Packer fans with season tickets. Because we like the Packers my son hates them and picks whatever team they are playing as his team but states hes a Vickings fan forever. Last night because the Packers won the Superbowl he cried for 2 hours packed a suitcase and said he was moving out because the Packers won….. Does anyone else run into situations like thi? Not matter what I or my new husband or family members like, he likes the opposite.

  35. robert
    February 8, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Hi my name is Robert, I have a 9 yr old that is Autistic. With change he is not good at all. He will drop to the ground where ever we are when we mess up his routine. We went to Dollywood, several times last year and we would get him in a routine to ride rides from one side of the park to the other. One day the side we started on was closed, we had a very hard day. We had people coming up asking if everything was alright, we had to explain the reason for his actions to several people. Finally had to leave. Change is not good for him.

    • Susan Bettinger
      April 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm

      Hi! We also had a similar situation w/ our 16 year old son at Dollywood when one of his favorite rides was temporarily shut down and he didn’t understand. I wish that Dollywood had the line passes that we are able to get at Disneyworld and every other theme park we go to. Those passes really make life easier, as he has a hard time in line when people get too close, stare at him when he stims, etc. He’s actually quite patient about the wait time, but the social situations that inevitably arise while in line are the problem. It’s very hard for people to understand a 6’3″ “normal” looking kid who sometimes acts like my 2 year old grandson and has the same level of speech and understanding of concepts.

    • April 25, 2011 at 11:01 pm

      @ Robert and Susan,

      My 9 year old is also challenged with Autism. Up until recently we had to deal with the uncomfortable issues of routine change to the extent that my 7 year old daughter couldn’t even have friends to the house without our son hiding in his closet and panicing.

      I say up until recently, because 4 months ago we read an article connecting Autism with mitochondria dysfunction and a nutritional supplement that is specific to supporting and rejuvenating our mitochondria was available to me.

      I have tried to share my son’s story and the amazing progress that he has made, but often get accused of spam.

      BUT because there are so many families touched in someway by autism … I will continue to share what is working for my son.

      I am proud to say that Colt continues to make amazing progress to the tune that his social skills have totally turned around and the routine changes are no longer an issue. His eye to eye contact is back, the flapping of his arms and tippy toe walking has greatly diminished, he engages in back and forth conversation, he is playing with other children on the playground and just recently we had to re-write his IEP because since our last meeting Colt has achieved over 70% of the objective goals.

      If you or any of your friends are interested in reading my son’s journal, please e-mail me at stephsstuff@hotmail.com

      God Bless,


  36. February 8, 2011 at 11:00 am

    My son doesn’t relate to change easily at all. He catches up after about 9 months or so, but is is very very frustrating for myself and my daughter. I am a single parent who has not help so, it’s hard to have a good even balance but I try.

  37. Sarah-Ann
    February 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Our oldest (5, in Kindergarten) is handling change better and better as he grows. We use a combination approach to change, one that has been vital this year with all the snow days and delays (I live in Massachusetts). I keep in touch with his teachers on a day-to-day basis and try to make the home environment as similar to the classroom as I can, so if he has a day off I have some similar activities (often they’ll send home worksheets too) to do with him here. I also keep a schedule of his school activities, so if, say, he has music on Wednesday and misses it, we’ll have a music class here at home. We also allow some stimming if he’s having a really hard time. One of his chief coping mechanisms is big physical activity, so we’ll get our snow gear on and just let him go crazy in the snow for a while. The third aspect of our approach is to keep everything else the same. He practices the piano every day after school – that doesn’t change. His table setting routine, reading routine, bed and bath routine, etc. are all exactly the same as on regular days. We have two younger boys as well, so I can’t give him the 1-on-1 attention he gets at school all day, but this plan of attack seems to be working out pretty well so far.

  38. Emily
    February 8, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    I am a music therapist that works with many people with autism. This is an extremely common goal area with the little ones that I work with. I have the advantage working in the medium of music because 1) It is naturally so structured 2) Many people with autism REALLY respond and GET music and 3) It is FUN! So I tend to initially provide all the structure and familiarity in the world. Then, little by little I introduce changes – initially structured changes and with warning – and eventually spontaneous and unstructured change as they get used to the change.
    Also – there have been times in which my clients’ parents will ask me to help prepare someone for some kind of big event – like flying on an airplane, or going to Disneyland. I compose a song specific to that child and the event, and we practice it (usually with puppets) in session for weeks before. It is fantastic! By the time the event comes – they are ready to go!

  39. February 8, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    Our beautiful 8 year old son, Colt, is challenged with Autism. He falls smack in the middle of the Autistic Spectrum. We have been working with specialists and educators since he was 16 months old. Recently a study was published connecting autism with a mitochondrial dysfunction. The company that I work with also recently brought to market a nutritional supplement that is specific to supporting and rejuvenating our mitochondria. When the study came out, I immediately got in touch with our lead scientist to see if this supplement would not only be beneficial for my son, but safe. As of today, Colt has been taking ageLOC Vitality for 66 days! He is now PRESENT. A window started opening after day #2 … eye to eye contact is back, engaged in conversations, participating in class, and he has 3 friends that he is now playing with on the playground. My son is 8 years old and never had a best friend … and in the last 2 months his entire world has opened up! A miracle? We are very hopeful parents! I have been keeping a daily journal since Colt has started the supplement. If you are interested in reading Colt’s journey, please send me your e-mail.

    And coping with change … before a daily challenge. Now we are working with an 8 year old who is participating in his own life!

    God Bless,

    Stephanie Lambdin

  40. nancy
    February 8, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    We keep a calendar where our son can see it. All events are put on it. We stick to the same routine as much as possible. Anything new we discuss ahead of time, and many times leading up to the day. We give him day, time, when we are going to leave, when we should be back home again. The more he knows, the more power he seems to have over new things. We also don’t force him. If he doesn’t want to go, then one of us stays home with him. This makes him pretty much a home body but he seems happy. Remember what makes you happy may not be the same thing to them.

  41. Laura
    February 8, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I have a ten year old with Aspergers. When we were formally diagnosed he was going in third grade. I found a book called “Aspergers: What Does It Mean To Me?” This book is a workbook that helped my son learn about himself. I learned about what he likes and dislikes for instance, light, sounds, touch, clothes, etc. It gave us great techniques for change and schedules for home and school. I put up a dry erase board for the first time with a family schedule for the day and my son told me that I just saved his life. He has since learned to calm himself down if we have a schedule change and I say let’s go with the flow. Which is often when you have four children.

  42. Teresa
    February 8, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    My 11 year old son has such a hard time, he gets very upset when things are changed on him. Last week he went to his Tae Kwon Doe class and his normal teacher announced that he had to leave and someone else was taking over for him that day and my son turned and looked at me and wanted to leave but I was very proud of him he stuck it out and did his class without having a major meltdown.

  43. Marlou
    February 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm

    My son has Aspergers and our doctor explained his fear of change like this…Imagine you’re walking through the woods and you come around a corner and all of a sudden a huge grizzly bear is in front of you up on his hind legs, growling at you! This is the same anxiety level your son feels when you change his routine. But he also said the more he’s exposed to this level of fear the easier it will be to deal with. So….what I used to do was “pretend changes”. I would purposely change our plans when I had time to deal with his meltdown. For instance, I would tell him in the morning that we were going to the store after lunch and then would change the plans on purpose. He would be very upset but by showing him, over & over & over, that plans could change without life coming to an end, helped when I had a legtimate change of plans. I would then periodically remind him of the situation…”Jessie, remember yesterday when we were gonna go to the store but instead we stayed home and painted that awesome picture? See honey, sometimes our plans change, but we ended up having alot of fun didn’t we?” The more you expose your child to change, the better it will be in the long run. Don’t let yourself get sucked into making things so structured. That was my mistake when he was a preschooler. He was a total monster if he didn’t get his nap exactly at the same time every day. I thought ok, as long as I keep it the same, he’s happy & I’m happy. But what I didn’t realize was that I was enabling his disability. I paid for it when he got a little older and learned not to keep things so structured. He’s 16 now and STILL has some issues with changes but its easier to reason with him and snap him out of what he’s hyper-focused on. Instead of making a set schedule and giving warnings of any known changes, try not setting such a structured schedule…don’t set yourself up for that meltdown! Maybe give an idea of what you MIGHT do that day, but be sure to say “but if we don’t go to the park on Tuesday, we will do something else that you will love” I found this to be a better approach and also the “pretend changes” really helped. If a change occured that I knew was going to be hard for him to deal with, I started out by reminding him of a recent change that he DID handle well. And in that reminder I made sure to use ALOT of positive remarks/compliments about how he handled it. Hope this helps someone. Breaking away from the routine that your child seems to DEMAND may seem hard to do, but I’m guessing whatever your situation is now, isn’t easy…its worth trying.

  44. Misty
    February 9, 2011 at 8:08 am

    My daughter is 9 and as she is getting older her coping skills have greatly improved. There are however some things that would set her off, like today for and hour before school we talked about national severe weather week and how today at 9 am she would more than likly have a tornado drill. I didnt talk to her about it last night because I knew that she would constantly worry that maby I was wrong and it would go off like at 8 am instead of 9 am and not sleep well. Even though she is coping better you just kind of know what will cause extreme stress and not so extreme. I have in the past known somthing was changing and not told her to learn what her reaction would be and that has helped because sometimes her stress of worrying about the change would be way worse than the actual change. You know what I mean? So just the temporary hiccup would be easier for her. Every now and then just depending on her day something out of the ordinary will throw her off completely but for the most part she is doing great! She amazes me everyday.

  45. Charity
    February 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    My 6 year old takes change pretty hard. We cope by letting him know the day before that the next day is going to be a bit different. He has a hook- ccand-loop (generic velcro) chart that we use each night to map out the next day. Most days it doesn’t change, but if he has a dentist appointment, I make sure he knows about it. When I act like I’m excited about the change in schedule, he seems to take it better. This has only recently started to work as he has only recently learned what “tomorrow” really means. Before then, change was difficult to deal with.

  46. Blair
    February 10, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I teach children with Autism. I love reading everyone’s comments and suggestions to this topic because change in routine can be very tough. My advice is ALWAYS give options, for EVERYTHING. There is always a chance for there to be a change in the “norm” for these kiddos and if they are use to being given an option (even though they always choose the same option), it won’t be completely foreign when it becomes the only other option.

  47. February 11, 2011 at 10:06 am

    he start crying, screaming and his showtime (tantrums)…..don’t want to eat or any toys at all..i have to run home and stay there…i try so many times go to the stores or a public place so he can learn is part of the life but he doesn’t like it….

  48. Regg
    February 11, 2011 at 10:57 am

    My son usually has some difficulty with a change in daily routine. My wife and I handle this by letting him know that if he continues in such a difficult manner that he may lose time with something that he cherishes, such as a favorite toy or computer time. He also might not get a favorite snack. Most of the time he will eventually do as we want. Some of these battles are no longer battles and have become part of his daily routine, such as homework. The struggles are not over, but as his parents there are some things that we can’t compromise such as education and nutrition.

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