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Changes in Routine

Updated: Jan 3

Everyone deals with changes in routine, but this can be difficult for many neurodivergent people, no matter on a monthly or daily basis. In fact, it causes a lot of stress. I know changes in routine have been challenging for me personally growing up as an autistic. For example, my parents would take me out for walks around the streets in Brooklyn, NY, and I was not able to handle it well with changes in different walking paths we took. As a result, a temper tantrum happened. I would cry, kick, and drop myself on the ground. This experience occurred when I was little. Thanks to all of the therapies I had and interventions implemented at school and home, I've improved in this area over the years. I do admit changes in routine still get me off guard sometimes, but not as much compared to my early years. The key is planning and preparing for expected and unexpected changes to routines. Most importantly, learning that our feelings are valid, but its how people react to the situation(s) and approach it that makes a big difference. How can you help a neurodiverse child/student learn to adapt with changes in routine?

Here are some ways to help neurodivergent people develop flexibility when changes in routine occur:

  1. Social Stories and Role Playing!

  2. Visual Schedules!

  3. Checklists!

  4. Be consistent with developed routine!

It is very important to not beat yourself down when teaching a neurodiverse child/student to adapt with changes in routine. Everyone has good and not so good days, but it is so important to teach neurodivergent people to not give up learning this vital skill in life, despite the challenges. Personally, I am more flexible and patient now when it comes to this because of the students I've worked with over the years since I was 17; a little fun fact here, but my message is that things are going to change and learning that it is ok, and you will get to anything in your established routine the next day. Now how did I learn to be flexible when changes occur? Lots of practice, using the strategies mentioned earlier, and reminding myself that I can get to what I need to in my routine the next day. It's all good!

How do you deal with changes in routine! Share your tips in the comments section!


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