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Negative Response To A Disruption Of Routine

Negative Response to a Disruption of Routine

A child that has been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD or autism) will find it very difficult to make sense of the world. Because of this, and also because of problems with understanding other people and interacting with them, it is very important that the child has order, structure, and predictability in his surroundings and environment. These things enable the child to feel much safer and secure in what he perceives as an ever-changing world.

 A child with autism will become very attached to familiar routines and will follow those routines very precisely; for example, the child will follow an exact route to and from school, or at mealtimes, a child will want other family members to be seated in exactly the same places every day and at set times. Many of these routines can be very disruptive to normal family life.

 If there is a sudden change in routine, or if a routine is disrupted, this can have a very negative effect on the child’s behavior. Because of the way children with autism process information, any negative responses and deterioration in behaviors can also be due to a delayed reaction to something that happened earlier in the day or even days or weeks before that.

 Negative reactions will occur in the form of screaming, tantrums, pushing, and occasional violent behaviors. Sometimes, the child will be inconsolable. These extreme reactions are due to the increased stress, fear, and anxiety that arise due to changes in a familiar routine that make them feel less safe and secure.

 However, it is important to realize that these reactions and responses are not always caused by a change or disruption of routine. The distress of any kind could be due to other reasons that the child is unable to communicate. Sometimes, the distress can be due to other pent-up frustrations due to difficulties in being able to express emotions. Care should be taken to try and eliminate any underlying or possible factors that may be causing the distress, especially if there is a sudden change of behavior. It may even be necessary to arrange a medical checkup as a child with autism may find it difficult to locate pain or communicate where the pain is.

Even very small or slight disruptions to a routine can cause a child diagnosed with autism to feel distressed and confused. Sometimes, disruptions to the routine are unavoidable such as changes that may happen in a schedule, school timetable, or school trips. Effective strategies are needed to help the child plan and prepare for any changes.

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Parent Waitlist Program


November 02, 2023 | 12pm-1pm PDT

Journey to Independence

Community-based program designed to support families on waitlist

Being an RBT for me was extremely fun because where were you going to find a place where you can be completely silly without having to worry what people thought about you? This was the only job that made me feel like I could make a dramatic difference while being myself.

I also liked to be surrounded by people that had the same goals of wanting to help kids and the teamwork made the job much easier and more enjoyable.

Change and progress was the ultimate goal for our kiddos. The early intervention program was seriously only a miracle because I saw changes in the kiddos that from day one, you wouldn’t even recognize who they were.

Changes from being able to utter 3-4 words where they can only make a syllable from when they started, the behavior decreases in which kiddo that used to engage in 30-40 0 self-harm to only half, learning how to wait during games, table work where they use to swipe and drop to the floor if they had to.

My favorite was when the parents would tell us what amazing progress they were making at home. I used to tear up and felt for these parents so much because it was already difficult for them and now, they can trust and rely on ABA and the therapists knowing their goal was ours.

By Emma Rogers, BA, RBT

Mother Child
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