May 22, 2013

Using Transitions to Create Traditions

Because changes and transitions can often be more jarring and stressful for those on the spectrum, it's often recommended to plan ahead with lots of warnings and preparation. It's also usually not advised to start something new at the same time.

However, sometimes I feel like one change can make it easier to make another change and use it to piggy-back. For example, right now life is pretty crazy with our move, but we're trying to keep the Little Man's daily routine as stable as possible. We started him at the new daycare (closer to my work and the new place) a week before we move house. On the weekend we will move and after the long weekend, he's back at the new daycare, so not too many changes happen at once.

Now I pick up the Little Man from daycare and bring him home with me and Dada has dinner ready for us. I've used this NEW routine to institute sitting at the table for meals. We've tried this many times and failed, but we know it's possible. So we've been consistent this week about making sure food is on the table as soon as he comes in. He gets washed up and we get to the table as a family. He has no time to get distracted by toys or anything else. It means I sit down and eat a bit even if I'm not that hungry at that time. It means I usually miss my favourite show and pretty much the only TV I watch, Coronation Street. But we are teaching him the lifelong skill of sitting nicely at the table, not kicking anyone, and just eating.

We've been soooo impressed with him! Not only does he sit and eat fairly well (with a lot of prodding) but he has even asked for more some days! It's so nice to see such a change in him. So now we just have to make sure we keep it up once we move, despite the chaos and possibly, lack of kitchen.

Making transitions easier takes planning and consistency. If you want to institute a new routine/habit/tradition, pick something manageable and don't get expectations too high. If it doesn't work this time and causes too much stress, drop it and wait for another time. In the end, our children will learn and cope at their own pace and life isn't a race to the finish!