A day in the life of an ASD family

Lauren is a 28 year old married mum of two originally from South Shields now a resident of Northern Ireland, blogging about family life, autism, fashion, days out and much more. Lover of writing, reading, photography, cats & sugar skulls!

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Having a child with Autistic Spectrum Disorder often means a lot of careful planning and scheduling goes in to the day. Despite this, you have to be ready for anything, as you really never know when something might change and send everything off balance.

In a house with two children, things can get pretty hectic. That doesn’t change when you have a child on the spectrum, but you do need to keep a bit of routine going, to keep things running smoothly. It all feels like second nature to me now, because we’ve been doing things ‘our way’ for years now. It’s only when you step back and think about it properly that you realise how much extra work you do each day.

I thought I would invite you in to our world and show you what a day in our life is like!

7.00am

A typical day for us starts at 7am. Some mornings, my son Neil may wake up at 5.30, but will often get his iPad and amuse himself until someone else gets up. Other mornings, I’m the first up, and so I go and open all of the curtains to let the natural light rouse the children. I’ll give them until 7.15 before physically waking them, if the light trick hasn’t done the job.

My next job is to set Neil’s morning routine on to his daily schedule. Things run a lot smoother for us if Neil knows exactly what is happening, and it makes him less anxious for the day ahead. The morning schedule includes things like ‘get changed’ and ‘have breakfast’, right up until it’s time to go to school.

8:30am

At 8:30, the school bus picks up the kids from the road at the top of our street. Caitlin will play in the street with her friends from around 8:20, but Neil will stay in the house until the very last minute. As he’s leaving, he does the same handshake with his dad every morning.

2:15pm

Home time! Neil’s favourite time of the day, he really doesn’t like school. The hour after getting home is usually wind down time, he finds the school day quite stressful so we have to bring his stress levels down. As soon as the kids arrive home we set up the visual schedule for the afternoon. Usually Neil will want to sit somewhere quiet with his iPad for a while, watching mario videos on Youtube so he can fill his head with facts about his favourite thing. He finds this very calming! We have to give a countdown to let Neil know it’s time to finish with the iPad, otherwise trying to take it off him can cause quite a meltdown! (A timer like the Time Tracker is great for counting down how long he has left with an activity).

3:15pm

Time for homework! Trying to do homework with two children is tough. Parents of three or more children, I salute you, I honestly don’t know how you do it! My daughter Caitlin is in year 2, and is starting to do her homework independently. Neil still requires a lot of input, his concentration levels can be quite poor and he needs help staying on task. We have to keep the kitchen table clear and distraction free to make sure all attention is on the work! Sometimes a simple task can take over an hour, and is probably the most frustrating part of the day for Neil, and for me. He likes to have something to fiddle with, so we usually let him squeeze his Playfoam in-between tasks, which helps!

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4:15pm

Physical activity is a great way to work off the frustrations built up during homework time, and is great for working off some energy which will (hopefully) help Neil get to sleep later. We must remember to add outdoor time to the schedule, or Neil will refuse to go out. We have an outdoor schedule which we take with us when going to the shops or the park, so Neil knows where we are going and how long we will be!

6:30pm

After dinner, we start the long relaxation routine which runs up until bedtime. We have to follow this routine every night to make sure things go smoothly, any deviation from the routine can result in tears! We start with a wind down period of some quiet play. This is usually something like Lego, or our Gears! Gears! Gears! sweet shop. Activities like this are relaxing, great for the kid’s fine motor skills, and help release the hormone which helps the kids get to sleep!

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8:00pm

Bed time routine starts with a story, and some talking time. This time of night, Neil seems to come alive, and is full of questions about everything! We’ve assigned a 30 minute window where he can get all of the questions out of his system before bed, otherwise he will be up and down every 10 minutes after bedtime. Settling to bed can be a real problem for children with autism, and for Neil it’s a nightly struggle. Sometime’s he’s asleep by 9:30, and other night’s he’s still awake long after midnight!

Once the day is over, I get myself ready for the next morning, making sure everything is in place to start the routine again! I hope you’ve enjoyed a little insight in to our life. Obviously each day there is so much more to do, but I would need the pages of a novel to write about it all!

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