5 Tips for Developing a Successful Morning Routine for Kids With Autism
Mornings can be rough for most people. Sure, there will always be those that wake up every day ready to take on the world. For the rest of us, it takes a moment. Sometimes it takes several moments to get going first thing in the morning. You can’t overstate how vital our mornings are. We all know they can and often do, have a significant influence on how the rest of our day goes.
Our children are no different.
Every morning it’s important that kids get started off on the right foot. And as a parent of a child with autism, you know it’s imperative to get your kids to focus on getting ready and being on time.
But sometimes, it feels like it’s easier said than done. So how can you, as a parent, make mornings easier for your child with autism and yourself? One of the best things you can do is develop a successful morning routine. And stick to it no matter what.
Helping Children With Autism Have a Successful Morning Routine
All kids are wonderfully unique. But kids with autism have challenges different from neurotypical kids. Because transitions can be difficult and children with ASD tend to thrive on routine, having a successful morning routine will make your life easier in the mornings.
Here are five ways to help make sure every morning is a good one for yourself and your child with autism.
1.Choose clothes the night before
You can save a lot of time in the morning by helping children with autism be prepared for the day before going to bed at night. One great way to do that is to have your child pick out what they’ll wear the night before.
Children with autism may have sensory issues with certain textures or want to wear a shirt every single day. When you let them take control of what they’re wearing the next day, you’re saving yourself a headache in the morning and giving them the power of independence.
When helping kids with autism stick to a successful morning routine, it’s also wise to have separate clothes for school days and weekends or vacation days. This will help your child understand what to expect on their day. And for kids with autism, knowing what to expect is as good as gold.
2. Set timers
Mornings are hectic. There are many steps everyone needs to take to get out the door on time. But sometimes, kids get distracted or take too much time on each task. An excellent way to combat feet dragging and move things along quickly is to use timers.
If your child takes a bit longer to get dressed or is easily distracted by electronics, try setting a timer on your smartphone. When implementing their morning routine, tell them they need to be done getting dressed by the time the timer goes off. If they don’t, they’ll miss out on some other reward like screen time on the way to school. (Remember, kids with autism do well with positive reinforcement and rewards!)
With that said, it’s essential to make things as fun and light as possible. The timers going off shouldn’t be seen as a punishment or failure. Instead, make specific tasks a fun game of trying to beat the clock. If they finish well ahead of time, reward them by giving them time on electronics, watching tv, or reading a book.
3. Make mornings fun
Everything is easier to do when it’s fun, right? Consider playing some music during your child’s morning routine. Maybe have an impromptu dance party after they’re ready as a reward!
While you want to keep things fun and light, you also want to stick with activities that will let your kids be productive. Putting on cartoons on the living room tv or handing over your iPad before they’re ready isn’t a good move. Make sure you reward them with certain activities only after completing morning routine tasks.
4. Use visuals tools
Helping children with autism have a successful morning routine is easier when they know exactly what’s expected of them. Providing visual aids can help.
For example, you could create a timeline of expected morning routine tasks using pictures and times. Print an image of your child waking up with the time beneath it. Do the same for getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth, etc.
You don’t want to overwhelm your child. So try to make sure any visual aids are easy enough to understand. And once again, remember to make it fun! Think back to your own childhood. What did you respond to better – visual aids that made everything look boring and complicated or those that were more colorful, fun, and easy to understand?
5. Stick to the schedule
The best way to have a successful morning routine is to stick to the schedule without deviation. Implementing a new morning routine can be challenging at first. But the more you stick with it, the easier it will become for you and your child.
It’s also important to remind yourself that setbacks can happen. Maybe one morning doesn’t go as planned. Maybe there’s a meltdown, or your child drags their feet too much, disregarding the schedule.
Do your best to brush off the tough mornings. Try to tell yourself that tomorrow morning is another day. Even if you have two or three bad mornings in a row, stick with it. The consistency will eventually pay off.
It can be challenging to get your child to be productive first thing in the morning. However, putting forth the effort to develop a solid morning routine is well worth the effort. In the end, you know your child better than anyone. You will be able to tell what is working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to change things up and experiment here and there. Before you know it, you will find a morning routine that works best for everybody.
Need More Help With Your Morning Routine? The Autism Therapy Group Can Help.
Helping children with autism is our passion at The Autism Therapy Group. For over a decade, we’ve supported parents just like you through the challenges of raising kids with autism. Our in-home ABA therapy and clinic-based ABA therapy options can help your child reach their full potential and live an independent, fulfilling life.
Contact us for more information on how our team of autism experts and our ABA therapy programs can help you and your child with autism. We can’t wait to hear from you!