Rigid routines? Or not?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Shari, Apr 7, 2009.

  1. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    difficult child's spectrum status has been widely debated. A large portion of folks here on the board agree he shows some signs of spectrum disorder. His MD's disagree, saying he is nothing more than severe ADHD. His tdocs also disagree, wavering between spectrum disorder, bipolar, and other possible disorders.
    Wee difficult child gets up in the morning and gets ready for school pretty good. For the most part, the morning routine is the same, but it sometimes varies slightly, and he generally handles it as long as its not completely by suprise. The same with bedtime, we either play legos, read a book, or watch a short show, then he gets changed, etc, and off to bed. Neither is much of an issue.
    Given that change is so hard for him to handle, would you think it is a good idea to "structure" these events into a bonafide step-by-step chart at this point for him to follow, even tho he doesn't have a problem with these "routines", even when they are slightly changed up? Or should I leave these things less concrete and allow the occassional bump in the road with the hopes that it will help him learn to handle small changes?
  2. Josie

    Josie Active Member

    Since he can follow these routines with some flexibility, I would leave it alone and let him get used to the bumps in the road.

    I'm looking at this from the perspective of a parent of a child with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) where you can find yourself stuck in a rigid routine if you don't watch out. I know your child isn't diagnosis'ed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) so it might not matter. However, everyone has to learn to go with the flow at times. The more practice he has, the better.
  3. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Duckie absolutely needed a very rigid routine when she younger to function (through Pre-K) but now we are able to use more of a framework than a daily routine. If I were you, I would allow wee difficult child to have the success of handling change well in these areas and only institute a strict routine when necessary so that he continues to comfortable when change happens.
  4. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Why in heavens name would you change something that seems to work for him? That is much like waking a sleeping baby! Is this scheduling idea from the same people who wanted you to "force" the chart onto difficult child?

    I would allow difficult child to have as much flexibility in all areas as he is comfortable with. This can only be a good thing I would think.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    I tend to agree that as long as he's able to handle this, then keep it the way it is. Maybe he can expand on the flexibility in the future, as he gets a little older.

    As far as diagnosis's and needed structure- I personally think that structure can be imprtant with mood disorders, too and I believe that the profs are way too far away from being able to accurately diagnosis Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and BiPolar (BP) in young kids unless it is an extremely obvious case. That doesn't mean I don't think it exists- they both do- or that it can never be correctly diagnosis'd. It's just that this is coming up way too often for me to see it as anything other than a very "muddy line" between the two. So, if it were me, I wouldn't worry so much about the diagnosis as long as difficult child was getting the necessary accommodations at school and so forth.
  6. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I tend to agree with the others. If the flexible framework is working for you, why impose a rigid routine on it?

    It's great that wee difficult child can handle slight changes in his routine and take them in stride. I worry that formalizing the routine might rob him of that ability.

  7. KTMom91

    KTMom91 Well-Known Member

    Another vote for "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."
  8. Jena

    Jena New Member

    another vote for bump in the road. he's handling it well and that's great! so it's even better that he is handling the bumps in the road, yay for him and you for creating an environment in which has allowed this to occur.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Shari, this is more complex than it seems because it flows on to other areas of his life.

    Inorder to function well in his morning routine, he clearly doens't need any help. He's doing fine. So for that reason, you don't need to make a chart.

    But you might benefit from such a chart, in other areas.

    The bumps in the road - having a chart may make it MORE difficult to cope, unless you build it in somehow. And there are ways, I'll get to that in a sec.

    How is he reading? Is he ahead of his peers, or behind, or just average? Is reading something he craves, or something he avoids? Either way, there is a different approach which works brilliantly for spectrum kids BECAUSE IT SETS UP A PATTERN OF COPING that you can capitalise on in other areas.

    WHat I'm talking about - social story. Only I begin differently.

    I did this for difficult child 3, because it helped him adapt to different routines and potential change - I followed him around with a camera, we took posed photos of him doing his every day routines, and then I put it all together in a book for him. I printed out the text, printed the photos and put it together in a photo album for him (I picked up a cheap album at the op-shop). Photo albums are easy for little kids because the pages turn easily. I would write stories for my kids and draw pictures, putting it into the photo album.

    YOu then read the story to him. It's a story about him, it has his name in it and it has his picture in it. It also has him doing things he recognises and routines he recognises.

    Now comes the beautiful bit - because you have done this with something he recognises, you cna use it to prepare him for a known upcoming change.

    "On Wednesday next week, Johnny is going to the dentist. A dentist is a person who looks after your teeth to make sure they are growing healthy, white and strong and not getting holes. If a dentist finds a hole he can fix it before it gets so big that it hurts. The dentist will show Johnny to a big chair that can go up and down. Mummy will be able to stay in the room and the dentist will ask Johnny what sort of music he lies to listen to. There are pretty pictures on the wall and a TV in the corner that can show cartoons."

    and so on. Or

    "On Saturday morning, our family is going on holiday. We have to pack our luggage so it is ready by Friday night, so Daddy can pack it in the car. We need to go to bed early on Friday night because we have to wake up early on Saturday. We will even be out of bed before the sun comes up! We need to leave early, but if we're all ready in time we will be able to watch the sunrise as we drive along! It will be a lovely adventure, the whole family together."

    YOu see? If you need to for a changed routine, you again desscribe the familiar routine but list what will be different. For example, a child going in to hospital for a small operation or a test, may be nil by mouth. So the routine would include, "At tis point Johnny normally easts breakfast, but not today because the doctor needs his tummy to be empty, or the tests won't work properly. But it will be okay because after it's all done the doctor has asked for a special meal for Johnny, so he won't be hungry for too long."

    So does your child need his morning routine written down, in order for him to complete that routine? Nope. But would it help in other areas. Yep.

    And for difficult child 3 - it really improved his reading, because it helped him with the 'flow" of stories. He was reading lists of words, mostly nouns and some verbs, but had little understanding of sentences because he wasn't speaking in sentences then either. He used the flow of a story with its sentence structure, to learn to read them and then to speak them.

    difficult child 3's first such story was purely personal information, the stuff he needed to be able to repeat about himself. "My name is... I am a boy. I live at ... Our phone number is... and my mother's mobile phone number is... I like to climb trees and play piano. I love computers. I have two sisters and a brother. I like to swim." and so on. I had photos of him up a tree, him at the piano, outside our house, etc.

    The end result of that first one - if he got lost (as happened occasionally) he was able to repeat the text of this 'book' and they could use it to find out who he was and how we could be contacted. He was still mostly non-verbal, but he could repeat chunks of text like a parrot. But the photos - they helped him understand exactly what the text was meaning. From there, came language and comprehension.

    Have fun with this.

  10. Wiped Out

    Wiped Out Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I agree that right now I would go with the way you have been doing things.
  11. Stella

    Stella New Member

    hmmm Shari I'm confused. Why would you implement a rigid routine for morning or bed time when he doesn't have any issues with this? or did you mean that you are considering implementing routines for other times? When is it exactly that he has the difficulty with change??