Routine has glued my son’s day together every day for his entire life. He lives his day-to-day life around “what comes next” and “if-then” statements. Knowing what to expect makes his life and ours easier because this way he can get organized and feel more comfortable and, I’m sure, more successful. Routine makes the world go ’round. In the past year, we’ve really seen Squeaker grow up and change in ways we never could have predicted. Many things can be attributed to his success, but I think most of it comes from him finding the right routine.
Earlier this year, my son started off in regular classes with the support of a teacher’s assistant and two resource classes. What this ultimately wound up meaning was that he did not want to do any independent work because he had an adult present in the classroom. He felt uncomfortable still adjusting to the routine of school, too, and we still had to tweak the routine. We added social skills support, began adding cues for him to work independently, and behavior charts that got stapled shut until he got home for us to review with him so that we could track progress.
As we got through the year, adjusted medications (decreased them the number of them), improved his day by adding in sensory activities, and kept communication open between school and home, his routine remained stable. He always knew what to expect from day-to-day. He learned how to unpack his own things, get from class-to-class, how to behave properly during specific situations, etc. All these things became a part of his routine.
Apparently, my son decided several days ago, all by himself, that he no longer needed an adult to walk him to class. He just walked right past his teacher, who was talking to another adult, who asked him if he was going to walk by himself to class. He gave the one-word response of “yes” and continued walking. When she got there, he had already unpacked his backpack. He’s also began walking one of his friends to social skills group by himself. He’s gotten so used to his routine, he just wants to do things on his own. And why shouldn’t he? Every child. Every person wants to feel independent. How good must that make him feel to do things on his own? To know he can do it by himself?
My dream for him all year long has been for this process to happen. He needs his independence just like every other child does. He’s growing up thanks to a good routine that matches his needs and that’s what we need to recognize–every day his routine needs to match his needs. With his sensory diet included in his daily routine, that’s the perfect way to make sure his day gets adjusted according to his individual needs for that day. A fire drill will set him off and he will need some soothing afterward. The day after a thunderstorm (like today)…I don’t know if there’s any hope for that. The poor kid was just tired. Someone tell me how to help him sleep during a thunderstorm and I’ll thank you forever.
Anyway, in truth, we’re fortunate. The school has done a fabulous job making sure his sensory needs get met while his educational needs get met and his routine gets put in place, so he’s really come a long way this year. Routine can make all the difference in a child’s life. In my child’s life, it’s everything.