In all my research on Autism, everything I’ve read stresses the importance of a visual schedule or some sort of chart to aid in an easier transition between activities. The reason for this is because Corwin is very set on routine… Where I am a “hippie” type go-with-the-flow person, Corwin is a very logical, reasoned, and organization-driven little boy. Going with the OCD aspects of his symptoms, it is very important for Corwin to know what to expect from day to day. This has proven ever-so-difficult with the reality that everyone I live with, myself included until recently, have fluctuating work schedules and priorities.
In an effort to help this, I (with the help and cooperation of my family) have come up with a set schedule viewable below. The reason for this is that while we can’t always guarantee that the same person will be available at the exact same time for the exact same activity every day we can guarantee that his personal routine every day will never change. As seen on the schedule, each individual with a responsibility for him is color coded and the individuals for the activity (not the activity itself) are what may change from time to time, but never the activity itself. Thus far, it has been a tremendous asset not only to Corwin but to my whole family in knowing what is required of them and what is a necessity for Corwin.
I work Monday-Friday from 8(ish) am – 6(ish) pm, with a 2 hour break from 10:30-12:30. Therefore, in the mornings, Corwin and I wake up at 6:30 and eat breakfast (that I plan and at times prepare the night before). After we each get ready for work/school, Nana drops him off in time to arrive at 8:00. To help me take full advantage of my break (and give me a nice little bit of time to myself), Nana has agreed to pick him up for me as well (my mother is amazing!).
When Corwin gets home,we usually read a book and talk about space until I leave for work (around noon). While I complete my work day, Corwin gets to spend valuable one-on-one time with his Pawpaw by watching typical kids T.V. shows and eating a nutritious lunch with him and Nana. While I realize it looks like that kid is watching a ton of TV, it has taken a bit of convincing to get my father to fight the urge to leave it on all day. My parents and their children were raised having TV as a babysitter. I hate that, and with a child prone to withdrawing into their own world anyway, I finally got them to agree that TV is not a necessary component to child rearing. That being said, my mother particularly is fantastic about him watching age-appropriate and somewhat scientific, educational programming. I mean really, is 1-2 episodes of “Cosmos”, “The Universe”, “How It’s Made”, or “Prehistoric Planet” really such a bad thing for a 4 yr old? Of course I prefer it from “let’s look it up and learn together” perspective, but I really can’t complain.
After this time, my wonderfully motivated and domesticated roommate has what we call “Interactive Play” with Corwin. Corwin is a very devoted learner! He loves astronomy, paleontology, and marine biology-ish subjects. Corwin gets bored to tears at pre-school every day learnings his ABC’s and 123’s for the eleventy-billionth time, so we enjoy the opportunity to help him research and learn specific facts about the subjects of his choosing. As a result, Corwin has learned about 30 ASL signs in the past 3 days, can pronounce the names of dinosaurs better than I can along with their eating habits, corrects ME on space facts (having just looked up the most recent information about it), etc. So really, he is a very bright kid and until we implemented this structured “discovery” type time I was worried that his altogether boring school day would snuff-out his amazing zest for learning. So far, it has astounded me how successful it has been in keeping that fire blazing! He also gets a teeny snack at this time of day (usually half an apple or something equally as small).
When I get home from work, I immediately start/finish dinner (depending on what is being made), make sure Corwin eats, get him bathed, make sure he brushes his teeth, give him an appropriate amount of time to wind down (since he is usually super amped by this point because he has spent all day away from his “Mooooommmmyyyyyy!!!!”), read some books, and get him in bed.
I get to pee by about 9:30…
So for all my friends reading this, this is PRECISELY why I prefer not to go out on weeknights! Hehe… I am a very busy woman…
I know it sounds like a busy day, and it is. And while the schedule may seem anal, it is really just a guide. That is why it is on a dry erase board :-). Honestly, it is an invaluable tool to keep all of us on track. I was very conflicted on creating this highly recommended “schedule” for a long time thinking it would just complicate my day, frustrate Corwin, and make me come off as one of those super obsessed mothers who seem to want to dictate exactly what time their child can poo every day… Could not be further from the truth. This schedule was created with Corwin’s input, based on how he wanted his day structured (because he loves having a more structured day!)
I just believe it is important to accommodate to your child’s specific needs no matter how “special” or inconvenient they may be for you. This day and age children are being raised in the mindset that they should be trained like dogs and corralled like cattle to turn into a perfect version of their completely imperfect parents. It is ridiculous. Why would you possibly hold a child to higher standards than yourself? Why in the world should a 4 yr old take a nap when he isn’t tired? (Got an answer for this one, it’s because it gives YOU a break…) Why should he be forced to name colors he clearly already knows? Why should he count sheep when he wants to count planets? Get with it… Realize your children are far more capable than what you give them credit for, that sitting in front of a TV all day can be incredibly boring no matter how convenient it may be for you, that you would get upset too if you could never count on anything being the same from one day to the next, and (as far as school goes!) realize that your bottom would get numb sitting in a chair for 3 hours too…. /endvent.