We’re beginning a new year and a new semester for school-aged kids, and it’s the perfect time to take a look at what routines are and are not working for your family. Morning routines – whether it’s getting ready for school or just starting the day at home – can veer off course quickly. For kids with Autism, those small changes can be the difference between a smooth start to the day and a morning meltdown.
Mornings set the tone for the day, and at Innovative Behavior Options, we want to offer a few tips for starting the day strong for a more productive, calmer day.
ABA Therapists’ Tips for a Smoother Morning
- Use Visual Supports: Visual supports are helpful for most kids, and particularly those with special needs. Creating a visual schedule that allows your child to see what needs to happen, when, and even how, can make the biggest difference in how your morning goes. Removing any element of surprise or uncertainty will make the process all the more comfortable. To learn more about visual supports, check out our previous blog.
- Factor in Extra Time: Feeling additional pressure from time constraints can make both you and your child feel rushed, which rarely leads to best behavior. Consider setting alarm clocks a few minutes earlier to allow extra time and to remove one unnecessary stressor. If necessary, adjust your child’s bedtime to make sure everyone’s getting enough sleep.
- Plan Ahead: Are there parts of the morning that frequently trigger meltdowns? Identify any speed bumps, and make plans to address them preemptively. For example, help your child select and lay out clothes and breakfast foods the night before so there’s no surprise in the morning.
- Eat Breakfast: When determining your morning routine, we strongly recommend planning enough time for your child to eat a healthy, filling breakfast. We’re rarely at our best when we’re hungry, and that hunger alone is enough to trigger a meltdown. Offering foods your child likes is a good way to start the day on the right foot, especially before school.
- Maintain Reasonable Expectations: When starting a new routine, focus on only the most important things – getting your child dressed, fed, and teeth brushed. Anything extra, like making the bed, is a bonus. If mornings feel busy enough, it’s ok to stick to the essentials.
And remember, we all have bad days sometimes – maintain the plan and your routine as much as possible and know there will be more good days than bad.
At Innovative Behavior Options, we provide Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for clients of all ages with developmental disabilities and create individualized plans to promote independence. To learn more about our approach to ABA therapy, please give us a call at 770-250-0093.