The importance of routine even in the school holidays

For children on the autism spectrum, routine is crucial for their sense of security, stability, and overall well-being. As such, maintaining a routine during the school holidays is especially important to help these children navigate through the changes and disruptions that come with the break from their regular schedule.

It's no secret that many children with autism struggle with change, leading to overwhelming feelings of anxiety when their routine is disrupted. Providing them with a structured and predictable routine is key in helping them feel safe and secure.

The absence of their regular school routine during holidays can be incredibly challenging for children with autism, often leading to difficulties in regulating their emotions and behavior, resulting in increased anxiety, meltdowns, and sensory overload.

This is why maintaining a routine during the school holidays is essential. A schedule mirroring their school routine, with designated times for waking up, meals, activities, and bedtime, can provide the stability and consistency that children with autism desperately need.

A set routine can significantly reduce anxiety and improve the overall sense of control for children with autism. This predictability is especially important for those who struggle with transitions or unexpected changes.  

Maintaining a routine during the school holidays can also help children continue to build on the progress they have made in school. Consistency is key for our kids to develop and reinforce their skills, whether it be in academics, social skills, or behavior management.

By continuing to work on these skills during the school holidays, we can help our children avoid regression and maintain the momentum they have gained in their development. This can ultimately help them transition back to school more smoothly when the holidays are over.

Furthermore, having a routine during the school holidays can also provide opportunities for our children to engage in activities that they enjoy and find fulfilling. By incorporating activities that align with their interests and strengths into their daily schedule, parents and caregivers can help their child with autism experience a sense of purpose and accomplishment during the break from school.

Routines not only provide structure and predictability but also support our kid's cognitive and emotional development. Research has shown that children with autism often thrive when they have a consistent routine in place, as it helps them better understand and navigate the world around them. 

So how can we maintain that routine during the school Holidays?

Here are some tips for parents on how to establish and maintain a routine for our kids during those long summer days or should that be rainy days in Ireland!

Start right away

Consistency is key, so try to follow the same schedule every day. Children may struggle with changes in routine, so it is important to stick to a consistent schedule to help them feel secure.

Create a visual schedule

Many children often respond well to visual cues. Creating a visual schedule using pictures or symbols can help them understand the sequence of events throughout the day. This can be especially helpful for children who have difficulty with verbal communication or understanding abstract concepts.

Break down tasks

Breaking down tasks into smaller, more manageable steps can help them feel more successful and reduce frustration. Providing clear and concise instructions can also help children navigate daily routines more easily.

Use timers and alarms

Using timers or alarms can help them understand when it is time to move on to the next task. This can also help children anticipate changes in routine, which can reduce anxiety.

Provide sensory breaks

Providing sensory breaks throughout the day can help regulate their sensory input and improve their overall well-being. This can include activities such as jumping on a trampoline, swinging, or using a sensory tool like a fidget spinner.

Offer choices

Giving children choices throughout their daily routines can help empower them and increase their sense of control. Providing options for activities, snacks, or clothing can help children feel more independent and engaged in their routines.

Seek professional support

If you are struggling to establish or maintain a routine for your child, it may be helpful to seek support from a professional such as a behavior therapist or occupational therapist. These professionals can provide guidance and strategies tailored to your child's specific needs.

Be flexible

While routines are important for children with autism, it is also important to be flexible and open to making adjustments as needed. Sometimes unexpected events or changes may arise, and it is important to be able to adapt your routine to accommodate these changes.

Have fun 

Our kids have worked hard all year they deserve a break so no matter what routine you adopt ensure your child has fun along the way and they still feel like they are on holiday. Find a way to make learning fun and playful and spend quality time as a family. 

Enjoy the holidays everyone

Autism Dad Ireland