My son is very routine driven. The challenge arises when deviation from routine is inevitable. Specifically, weekends and Mondays. My son gets really used to going to school Monday through Friday, and then on the weekend he’s left confused and sad about the fact that his routine has been broken.
This typically translates into lots of crying, anger, and just awful days for everyone involved. Similarly, Mondays are hard for us because just as he’s getting used to the weekend, we take him back to school…. we’ve had to pick him up from school 2 out of the past 3 Mondays because he had a hard time re-adjusting.
So how do we cope? We’ve started being very intentional about having conversations with him regarding changes in routine. On Sunday nights, we have specific conversations about the fact that he’ll be going to school the next day, Monday, and then we do the same on Monday morning. On Friday afternoons, we have a similar conversation about the weekend so he knows what to expect and there are no surprises.
We’ve also started using a weekly calendar as a visual aid. We show him what day of the week it is and what he can expect coming up the next day. It’s been somewhat helpful on most days, and we’re hoping that we can continue using these tools to help him adjust to routines that might not be to his liking. Routines are tremendously important to him and a part of who he is…instead of fighting that, we’re working with him.
Every child has quirks…my older son is tremendously emotional and we have to work around that. My daughter is the direct opposite and we have to work around that. My middle son with CP needs routines. That’s how he thrives. I can fight that, or I can adjust and make life easy and happy for the both of us.
I choose the latter. I choose to help him be the best him he can be and not necessarily attribute his need for routine to disability, but rather to personality. We’re getting better and better each day.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we asked parents of children with disabilities and special health care needs to share their tips and stories about caring for their children during difficult times.