Routines are a pretty big deal in our house. Well, when everyone agrees to participate in them that is. Whether routines for remembering to do something, routines to get chores and other responsibilities done, or a wide variety of other little rituals that have come about through our life as a family with autism.
One of my favorite uses of routines when it comes to my daughter, who has ASD, is that which helps us to remember parts of life that can seem rather mundane to the neurotypical child. These are tasks such as making the bed, picking up after dinner, or even brushing your teeth.
I have noticed through talking with other moms of children with autism that routines are either make or break in a house. They can be a blessing or a curse. On one hand, they can help many children with processing disorders get through tasks that may seem difficult or overwhelming. On the other hand, at times these routines can be a strict order of operations that must not be deviated from for any reason.
In our house, routines are a necessary way to get everything done. I have found with my daughter that often tasks that have multiple steps, as simple as it may seem to the neurotypical, can get overwhelming. Not only trying to complete tasks, but to keep them in order and do each smaller step to the best of her ability can be a bit much.
My daughter is very high functioning. Back when it was still a diagnosis, she was considered to have Asperger’s. (Just give it a week or two, they’ll change the name of it again soon, I’m sure lol) For her, the tasks can all be done even if a step or two is forgotten or she would rather argue it for an hour.
For other children, just doing the task itself may be a challenge. Routines are fantastic for these children as well because it can be flustering to have to remember how to do it on top of when to do it. In some children, the skill may not be doable at all. In this case, the routines are great because even if the child needs a little help, they are still understanding when to do each thing as well as the reasoning behind it.
Beginning A Routine
A quick and easy way to get started on a routine is through the use of an app for the smartphone or tablet. We have personally found that tablets can be a little easier, but it is really a matter of personal preference.
Apps can be a great way to begin something because they are quick and easy to access, and generally something that can be understood by both adults who may not be as tech-savvy and children who may have difficulties.
A great app that we have found for beginning or maintaining a routine is the MagnusCards app. They feature a wide variety of tasks available with small stories to walk the child through the task. Each card has a line of the story that helps your child follow along with the steps of a task.
These cards are excellent for children who may put up a fight for getting tasks done because rather than being asked or told to do something, they are given the opportunity to follow along with a friendly face and complete the task. After a while, Magnus will become a familiar face and the routine will become easier.
A favorite group of cards comes from Colgate. The Colgate x MagnusCards set includes brushing your teeth, flossing, using mouthwash, and even going to the dentist.
Each story walks through the steps of completing a task. It begins by showing Magnus completing the task and gives information on what is expected from the task. Shown above is the Brushing Your Teeth task, card one. There are ten steps to this task, which can be accessed by choosing the arrow button to move on. The speaker button gives you the option to read or listen to each of the steps on a card.
Following the first card with Magnus, each will show a real child completing the actions needed for the task. This helps children better understand and follow along by modeling the child on the card.
One of the best cards available in the group is the Visit the Dentist storyline. For us, this card is so very useful. Even neurotypical children (and adults!) can find a visit to the dentist daunting. For a child with processing disorders or other special needs, the dentist can very much be a cause for concern. This stems from not knowing what to expect. With Colgate x MagnusCards, your child can flip through before the trip to better understand what will happen, or go card by card as they visit with their dentist. This is fantastic for lowering anxiety levels, and ultimately making the trip smoother and more enjoyable.
Overall we’re very pleased that we came across MagnusCards. They have so many different tasks available, but our favorite are definitely the ones from Colgate. Hygiene is such an important habit to learn, and doing so is made so much easier with the help of Colgate & MagnusCards.
Does your family use apps geared for children with autism? We have a few great ones that we love, but always enjoy hearing what you guys are using. Drop us a comment below and let us know your thoughts on MagnusCards or any other apps that you have found useful for children with ASD.