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How to Help a Young Adult with Autism Build Independent Routines

How to Help a Young Adult with Autism Build Independent Routines

The journey to independence is intimidating for any young person; even those with their own kids call their parents when something goes awry. However, for those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), this transition can present unique challenges.

One of the key skills that can greatly enhance their quality of life is the ability to establish and maintain independent routines. Before delving into the strategies, it’s essential to recognize why routines are so crucial for individuals with autism:

  • Predictability – Routines provide a sense of stability in a world that may often feel overwhelming or uncertain. Knowing what to expect can reduce anxiety.
  • Structure – Routines offer a structured framework for daily life, making it easier to navigate tasks and responsibilities.
  • Independence – Establishing independent routines empowers young adults to take charge of their own lives.
  • Skill Development – Building routines can help develop essential life skills, like time management, self-care, and organization.

The following strategies can help support your young adult with autism in building independent routines.

  1. Create Visual Charts

Visual supports, such as schedules, calendars, or lists with images, can be invaluable tools. The visual cues help individuals with autism understand what comes next, reducing anxiety and enhancing predictability. You can use pictures, icons, or written words, depending on your child’s preferences.

Morning and bedtime routines, for instance, can be made into a visual chart so your young adult can independently follow them. 

  1. Break Tasks into Manageable Steps

Complex tasks that your young adult on the autism spectrum finds overwhelming should be The task then will feel less daunting, and the individual can get an extra boost of confidence each time they check off a step upon completing it. Remember to practice these steps during calm moments to solidify the skill.

  1. Provide Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement has been shown to be effective in motivating an individual to perform a desired task. Praise their efforts and celebrate their successes. This positive feedback will boost their self-esteem and confidence as an increasingly independent young adult.

  1. Flexibility and Adaptability

While routines are essential, and comforting to individuals with autism, it’s also important to teach what to do when the unexpected happens. Life is full of these unexpected changes, which can be especially challenging for our young people. Role play scenarios in which a plan goes awry, or go over options to solve problems that come up, like being unable to find the shoes they want to wear or being late for their transportation.

  1. Encourage Self-Advocacy

, meaning any accommodation will have to be requested by the student. Encourage them to ask for help when needed. Give ideas of what to say and how to communicate these requests, and practice these conversations at home. Self-advocacy is a crucial skill for independence. 

  1. Emphasize the Importance of Mental Health

Over the years, your child with autism has likely experimented with a variety of coping strategies. Discuss with them which ones they find the most effective, and encourage them to use the chosen strategies as needed. 

Many young adults with autism find seeing a therapist beneficial to help them with social skills, emotional regulation, and embarking on new experiences. Through the use of professional guidance, your young adult will feel more supported, prepared and confident to become more independent.

Helping a young adult with autism build independent routines is a gradual and collaborative process. By recognizing the importance of routines, fostering essential skills, and setting realistic expectations, you can empower them to thrive in adulthood. 

If you are looking for a compassionate and understanding place for your young adult to gain independence while continuing to receive support, check out the ýapp day and residential programs here.

Resources:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/parenting-an-adult-child-with-asperger-syndrome-259948

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