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Monday, January 12, 2015

Organizing for Autism Series {Part 3}: The Power of the Morning Schedule!

Regular readers of this blog will know how much our family loves visual schedules. But as we all know, when things are going reasonably well, it's easy to fall out of good habits...

Enter the frustration of the morning routine! Last fall, I found myself increasingly irritated that I had to give my son constant reminders to keep him on track in the morning. Seriously, how can it take 30 minutes to get dressed when the clothes were already laid out the night before? I knew that he knew the tasks that needed to be done, and that he was capable of accomplishing them. The part that wasn't going so well was accomplishing the tasks independently in a reasonable amount of time. Most days I felt like the morning routine police.

Then I remembered - make it visual! Before school resumed after Christmas break, I made a visual schedule of my son's morning routine. Now that he is 7, he is old enough to give input on what works for him. We discussed what tasks needed to be included, how much to break them down, and the layout of the schedule. TEACCH always teaches that the best schedules are interactive (ie, you can mark items as completed), but for this type of basic daily routine, we decided that a simple static chart would be fine. It's more of a checklist than a schedule of events.

Now that school has been back in session for a week, I am happy to report that the morning schedule has been a success! Instead of me constantly reminding my son of the next step, the schedule is his reference. He is getting ready much faster, dishes and pajamas are being picked up (mostly), and I am starting off the mornings with my sanity intact (again, mostly). Speaking of my sanity, one thing that has really helped lower my morning stress level is making a weekly school lunch plan on Sunday afternoons. It has eliminated the daily stress of figuring out what to send to lunch for a non-sandwich eater. Free printable version below.

Making the morning schedule was easy. I just found clip art online and created a chart in a Word document. Print on card stock, laminate (I've used the Scotch Thermal Laminator for years), and voila! If you want something even easier, or have a lot of visuals to create, the Mrs. Riley website is a fantastic resource for making pictures cards.

Need more ideas on how to manage your busy life with a child with autism? Check out part 1 and part 2 of our Organizing for Autism Series. Is there anything you could use help getting organized for your child with autism this year? Leave a comment below and let us know!

(Note: this post contains Amazon affiliate links - costs you nothing extra, earns a few pennies to support our blog. Thanks for shopping Amazon through CHART. We are not affiliated with the Mrs. Riley website - we just love it!)

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