Today is the first day of school for many youngsters with autism, so the stress level at home is escalating. Families are dealing with transition issues and new schedules and reports from school and all the other challenges that arise at the beginning of school. This podcast focuses on just one aspect of this stressful day – bedtime.
or continue reading:
SOME IDEAS AND STRATEGIES. No matter how tired everyone is in the evenings, you may discover that taking some time to slow down, get organized, and make connections with your youngster with autism is an invaluable investment of time and energy. Remember that the goal is not perfection, just a decrease in stress for everyone.
Take a few minutes to do a few routine tasks so you don’t have to deal with them in the chaos of the morning rush. Back when I was a young, harried mother, I found myself stomping around bellowing orders and empty threats as I tried to get the kids in bed. I kept thinking of all the things that needed my attention. As my stress level rose, Imade everyone around me miserable. So, I’m suggesting an alternate plan. Just make an effort to remain calm (in spite of looming deadlines) and use the bedtime round-up as a chance to visit quietly with your family members. Think of it as an “investment in contentment” rather than a “time thief.”
Here’s the bedtime round-up checklist to get you started. Just calmly help your youngsters get their checklist completed.
1. CLOTHES. Does each person have a set of clean clothes? Do they need gym clothes or after school clothes or basketball league clothes? What about shoes, socks, underwear, coats, hats, etc.?
2. BODY. Clean head to toe in the evenings to prevent a morning rush. That means shower or bathe, wash hair, brush teeth, and even shave if needed.
3. BACK PACK. Put all work supplies and/or books, permission slips, lunch money, and other necessary items in back pack before going to bed.
4. CONNECTION. Take a few minutes for quiet interaction with your youngster with autism. This is important even if your youngster is non-verbal or does not seem to participate in the conversation. Read a story or talk about their day to help them make an emotional connection with you and wind down. Take time to help them review the schedule for the upcoming day, to discuss concerns, and to review rules and/or expectations – whether they seem to understand or not. And don’t forget to remind them of your love and support.
So, remember, perfection is not the goal here. You just want to make an investment of 30 minutes every night to increase contentment. Believe me, your efforts will pay off big time for all involved.
NOTE TO LISTENERS AND READERS: I am Cathy Knoll, a board certified music therapist and long-time friend of many folks with autism. At FAQautism.com we are committed to providing free, practical, everyday tips for making life better for people with autism. You can click on a button to send me an email with your thoughts or challenging situations or innovative solutions. Check out our website for a wealth of ideas and a glimpse into the world of autism. www.FAQautism.com