EDITOR’S NOTE: City Dads Group is working with longtime partner Dove Men+Care to create “how to” videos for the grooming products company’s “Dads Care” campaign. We will be featuring the videos and scripts our members appear in. This one features Aaron Sheldon of our Columbus (Ohio) Dads Group, with a little help from his son, Harry, both shown above, talking about how to help kids with autism cope with a change in routine.
I’ve spent the past few years sharing how Harry and I explore our everyday world, and, lately, how our world has changed since Harry’s Autism diagnosis. Thanks to an amazing team of educators, intervention specialists, and therapists, we have a toolkit that has helped us through the upheavals of life, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
One thing that’s really helped Harry during chaotic period is having a daily schedule. Sitting down and planning out our schedule together every morning has been a big help in managing the ups and downs of our new normal.
Here are the five things we schedule every day to help Harry, and I stay happy, calm, get our tasks done, and have fun:
Get up, eat breakfast, and get dressed
While we couldn’t stick to the school week schedule we had before social distancing and stay-at-home orders, starting the day with the expectation that we get up around the same time, eat breakfast, and get dressed, helps the day start a little smoother.
Do schoolwork in the morning
We’re both a little sharper, calmer and able to sit and focus earlier in the day. We can get more done with less stress if we get right to work.
Take plenty of breaks
No matter how calm and focused we are, we still need to give our minds a rest every so often. So, between assignments, and before and after video calls with Harry’s classmates and therapists, we take a few minutes to move our bodies, have a snack, or do some drawing.
Try NOT to set time limits
We try not to put time limits on tasks because sometimes it takes a little longer to eat breakfast or do your math assignment than others, and the stress of a countdown doesn’t help dads or kids.
Don’t try to do too much
The most important thing to remember when you build your daily schedule is: Make sure you don’t try to pack too many activities in. Each day will have its unique challenges, and it’s OK to step away from something if it’s not going well, and come back and try again later.
We hope that these tips will help you and a child with autism cope with changes and make your day a little easier, have fewer meltdowns, and have more fun together.