Embracing Autism: Personal Reflections on Creating a Structured and Predictable Environment for Saar
As I continue to share my experiences as a single mother embracing autism, I want to offer a more personal perspective on how I’ve created a structured and predictable environment for Saar over the past 17 years. For many children with autism, including my son, routine and Consistency are essential in promoting a sense of security and helping them develop vital skills. Here are some of the strategies I’ve found most helpful on our journey.
- Our Daily Routine: Early on, I realized that Saar thrived with a consistent daily routine. We have established a fixed schedule for waking up, mealtimes, therapy sessions, school, playtime, and bedtime. The predictability of our days has brought immense comfort to Saar and me, reducing anxiety and making it easier for us to navigate challenges together.
- Visual Supports in Our Life: Saar has always responded well to visual supports. Over the years, I’ve created visible schedules, social stories, and visual cues to help him better understand his environment and our expectations. These tools have also been crucial in developing Saar’s communication, social, and emotional skills.
- Embracing Consistency: I’ve found that Consistency is crucial for Saar’s sense of security. We maintain Consistency in our routines, communication, and expectations. When changes are unavoidable, I provide ample preparation and reassurance to help Saar adapt to new situations.
- Organizing Our Home: Organizing our home into specific activity areas has made a significant difference for Saar. He knows the purpose of each space and can quickly locate items thanks to clear labels and visual cues. This sense of order has been essential in creating a calm and supportive environment for him.
- Creating a Sensory-Friendly Space: Saar, like many children with autism, has sensory sensitivities. Over the years, I’ve learned to minimize loud noises, harsh lighting, and strong smells in our homes. Providing sensory breaks and calming spaces has helped Saar self-regulate and cope with sensory challenges.
- The Power of Social Stories: Social stories are a powerful tool for teaching Saar social skills, routines, and appropriate behaviors. I often create personalized social stories to help him understand new situations and what is expected of him.
- Encouraging Predictable Play: Engaging Saar in predictable, structured play activities has been a great way to promote skill development and social interaction. In addition, I incorporate his interests and preferences to make playtime enjoyable and engaging.
- Collaborating with Saar’s School and Therapists: Working closely with Saar’s school and therapists has ensured that our strategies at home are consistent with those used in other settings. This Consistency has made transitions between home, school, and therapy more manageable for Saar.
Creating a structured and predictable environment has been vital in helping Saar feel secure and develop essential skills over the past 17 years. While it hasn’t always been easy, I’ve learned to adapt and tailor these strategies to Saar’s unique needs. In addition, sharing our experiences can support and encourage other families on similar journeys.
In my next blog post, I’ll share how we’ve worked on fostering independence and life skills in Saar as he continues to grow. So stay tuned for more insights into our life together!