Calendars, lists, and timers….oh my

Cody is a guy who loves and prefers to be at home. As long as he has his laptop and is surrounded by his family, he’s happy. When that routine gets disrupted, say, with life, he really needs to know what to expect. I’m sure this is the case with many of us. I mean who wants to be abruptly told it’s time to leave without so much as a warning of any sort? Of course I realize it’s partially due to the fact that he has autism, but I’ve also tried to treat him like I would everyone else in the family when it comes to generally living our lives. There have been small things I could do to ease his anxiety and need to ask question after question about what comes next when we get into the car to head out for the day. Cody’s a very visual person so having things written on the calendar or a list to refer to often helps to alleviate his nerves and put his mind at ease. This can sometimes be a challenge for me because often times I just want to get in the car and say we’re going shopping with no particular schedule in mind, just going with the flow, but that’s just not how Cody prefers to roll. I write as much information on the calendar as I can and write lists when we go shopping so he can see at a glance what to expect.

Setting a timer has also helped a great deal, especially on school day mornings. Once he’s eaten breakfast and brushed his teeth, I set the timer for when it’s time to leave home and head to school. With five minutes left on the timer, I’m sure to give Cody, and everyone else in the family, a warning. Probably most important to note is that I make sure to add in a cushion(usually about five minutes) when setting the timer, knowing full well that everyone won’t immediately come to the door ready to leave when the buzzer sounds. While the timer isn’t a perfect tool, it’s keeps everyone, even myself, somewhat on task and aware that we need to be leaving soon. Often times I prompt Cody to visually look at the timer so he can see for himself how much time he has left without me having to verbally tell him, giving him that picture in his head of how much time he has left before we need to leave. However little it might be, I think it does help. Once in the car he likes a rundown of where we are going and I’m pretty sure he blocks out every destination until I say and then we’ll come back home. After all, home is his very favorite place to be aside from Walt DisneyWorld and since I’m pretty sure we can’t take up residence underneath Main Street, U.S.A., we’ll just settle for home where everything is written on the calendar, his laptop is handy, and the timer is within his eye shot.

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