I once provided respite care for a 9 year old boy with autism whilst his mum took his other siblings swimming. He struggled with separation from his Mum and therefore each week his mum would sneak out the door whilst he was distracted. Within a minute or so he would realise his mum had gone and he would cry and become quite distressed until I was able to distract him with one of his favourite activities.
It occurred to me: why, when we know that children with autism need to know what is happening next, are we not preparing him for something that really matters to him? We spend all day preparing him for what is coming next but don't tell him when his main caregiver goes out. Crazy! So we did the simplest thing possible – we added a ‘bye bye Mummy’ card to his visual timetable with a photo of his mum waving as she walked out the door. The result? Within a couple of tries the boy had accepted this card. He was able to accept his mum going out with little or no distress, and we were able to get on with our activites together.
Our children are amazing, give them the benefit of the doubt. Tell a child who needs to know their schedule exactly what is going to happen in their day. Display it visually. Deal with changes in the plan by displaying it on a visual timetable, and tackle any ‘tricky’ parts of the day head on. If you think they are not going to be able to cope with something, try it - they just might surprise you!
I hope you have a fantastic time with your amazing children this Easter.