Routine changes (Autism, flexibility and routines)

Morning dear readers,

I hope you all are staying warm.

New routines and changes have been an obstacle to writing of late, but I am hoping to work it back in.

Change and stress, but no meltdowns

I like routine to our day for its predictability. It leaves me without the stress of the unknown, my greatest anxiety producing obstacle. 

The National Autism Society (UK) states that:

“Many people with autism have a strong preference for routines and sameness. Routines often serve an important function – they introduce order, structure and predictability and help to manage anxiety. Because of this, it can be very distressing if a person’s routine is disrupted.”

I find myself best capable of dealing with changes if I have time to react and adapt. I think through possible ways plans can go awry.

Unexpected variables can throw my entire day.

value of xJenni-in-a-Calmer-Moment

My children each deal with changes in routine differently. My child most upset by routine changes doesn’t have a diagnosis. She can feel distressed when she isn’t on schedule.

My child deemed most impaired  is generally not upset about changes. He has for example, a routine of getting a bath after lunch. He will remind and then insist on one, all the way to stripping to make a point. However, when we have something else to do I tell him and he copes.

Though there is stress, meltdowns  rarely occur I think mostly because:

  • our routine is set naturally to patterns that emerge rather than to trying to fit life into something preset
  • known changes are discussed ahead of time
  • unexpected things are explained
  • contingency plans are made and discussed
  • beyond a basic framework, our schedule is not rigid

What is our Daily Routine now?

Monday through Thursday we’ve settled into  a fairly predictable pattern.

I usually wake up without an alarm between 5 and 6am.

Then I spend time sitting and reading online articles.

I also drink vast quantities of tea in the morning.

While it seems wasteful, if it were raining this woman could open her mouth and let the tea run in.










Between 7 and 8:

  • shower
  • dress
  • walk the doggie
  • make sure the kids have breakfast

Between 8 and 9

  • make the littles dress/brush teeth
  • help Pete
  • make breakfast for Kevin and I
  • read more internet

Between 9 and 12

Aidan and Little Bee are for the most part independent, working from their own work schedules. For them I:

  • facilitate via discussion/questions/assisting with problems
  • provide resources, activities, labs
  • assign and check  reading/work

Chess is an approved school time activity. The stuffed doggie won btw.








For the littles and Pete I shift back and forth between

  • lessons with the littles
  • one on one with Pete
  • lessons with all three at once

Patrick works on math








We are generally done by noon.

Noon to about 1:30 – 2

  • make lunch
  • eat lunch
  • walk the doggie
  • help with afternoon baths

From then on to about 6

If there isn’t some place to be I then work on writing, paid work, paperwork, etc.

From 6 – 9

  • make dinner
  • walk the doggie
  • clean something
  • chill with Kevin and kids

Lately Kevin and I have been watching an hour of Classic Doctor Who with Aidan and Bee.


Instead of turned off, they’ve been rather fascinated by how low tech it is.

I get the littles to bed by nine, Pete and the rest by ten and I am not far behind.

Is routine helpful or harmful?

In the end I believe routine is a good stress reducing tool, but that it is necessary to learn other coping techniques for inevitable change and unexpected events.

Feel free to comment below about your need (or lack) of routine.  Do you find it helps or hinders?



One thought on “Routine changes (Autism, flexibility and routines)

  1. dkjsv05 says:

    Yes, I need routine. I can get grouchy if my routine changes. I have found that setting a routine throughout the years have helped our lessons flow smoothly. The girls don’t need me to help much anymore, they know exactly what to do.

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