Routine

There are some things you can’t escape from. For us its ‘routine’.

No doubt about it. My son likes routine. To illustrate.  We have a very simple calander on our frigde door. Its just a piece of laminated paper with the days of the week on it, in a row,  Monday to Sunday with barely enough space to add notes against each day. Then there is a piece of velcro running down the days of the week to which we can attach a pointer. Actually we have three pointers; yesderday, today and tomorrow.

My wife made it. Its simple but effective. It allows us to highlight for our son what he will be doing week-to-week. But if we were making it again we’d allow more space for notes. We put things on it like:

Monday: School, swimming, shopping

Tuesday: School, Riding

Etc.

Just simple reminders of things he might having coming up (a school trip perhaps) that are different from the routine. The idea is that he has no surprices that will throw him off track. He refers to it a lot. Usually to count-down the number of days to the weekend.

Very early on somebody mentioned to us (was it the paediatric consultant?) that establising a routine can be helpful in keeping the stress levels down. Think about it for even a short moment and its obvious really. If your understanding of the world is impaired in some way then unusual or unexpected things must be frightening, especially if you don’t understand them. For a youngster with leaning impairment that means that pretty much everything has the potential to be alarming as so many experiences are new.

We have many illustrations of this. A good one would be when my wife took our son to see the X-factor show at the O2 earlier this year. A friend of ours had got tickets as her husband managed to secure a coporate box at the venue and gave all the tickets to 21 & co.  All seemed well but when the concert kicked off the noice so alarmed J that he and my wife spent the entire show sitting outside the main arena. Oh dear.

Then there was our recent camping trip to Bath. we visiting the caves at Cheddar Gorge, including Cox’s Cave with its theatrical Crystal Quest. This spooky vision (bloke in a monks hooded cape)  stood at the entrance to one chamber and freaked out poor J to such an extent it was all I could do to get him to the exit. To him this was clearly the frightening experience the rest us are supposed to feel but don’t because we know what to expect.

On the other hand we took him to see Joseph and his amazing technicolour dreamcoat a couple of years back at the Adelphi theatre and he loved it depsite that being almost as noisy. Perhaps we did a better job of explaining to him what he was going to see.

So my point is this. Routine is good and has certainly helped us in our daily activities. But it can be a double-edged sword. Too much routine and you can’t deviate without difficulty. And you know what, “shit happens” and routine can’t always be followed e.g. holidays. Therefore we have always tried to balance the routine of home life (e.g. dinner/bath/story/bed on school nights) with ‘spur of the moment’ type activities (“Lets go shopping/to the Cinema/Bowling/walk the dog” etc.). Sometimes doing something “out of the ordinary” works, and sometimes it doesn’t. But we aren’t trapped by daily routine and its surprising the new things that my son will take too.

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