Living with autism: the importance of routine

Autistic children often perceive the world as a big, chaotic, and scary place. They often cling to people, places, and situations which they are familiar with. The easiest way to make their lives simpler and less anxious is to ritualize everyday life and make it as predictable as possible.

From sunrise till dusk

Everyday rituals begin with waking up. Notice, what your child does when he wakes up, and what upsets him. Is there a routine she follows washing up and putting on clothes? If so, observe the routine and take care not to change anything unnecessarily.

Then there is breakfast. Some children with autism have strong preferences about food, for example they will eat only yellow foods for breakfast. Try to provide some nutritional variety within those frames, and don’t force your child to eat something else. The same goes for other meals.

Playtime, naptime and study time should be put on a timetable that you will strictly adhere to. This will allow your child to know what to expect every day and save her a lot of stress.

Finally, observe the rituals you have set for bedtime. It is important to take extra care with this time of day because it will influence how well your child will sleep.

Unexpected changes

If there are any unexpected changes in your life, for example if you have to move houses, there are a few things you could do to make the time of transition easier on your child. Firstly, observe as many rituals you’ve had before as possible. Secondly, try to surround your child with as many people he knows and likes as possible.


  1. This actually helps us, parents, too. I’ve always thought routine was boring but in reality it makes me feel safe.

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