A routine is central to teaching children how to manage their behaviour as well as defining clear expectations.
It creates boundaries which encourage healthy growth and development, permitting them to understand what is appropriate.
Here, we discuss the importance of structure for children and ways you can effectively implement one in your child’s environment by using a weekly organiser board.
Why is structure important for a child?
Structure helps to ensure the physical and emotional safety of any child.
Children are at their best when they adhere to predictable routines because they know what to expect. Environments that are disorganised and chaotic can be detrimental to a child’s development, which can affect them both now and later in life.
Structuring a child’s routine includes implementing set routines for daily life that are consistent and, most importantly, predictable.
It should include functional activities like brushing teeth and predetermined meal times as well as morning and evening habits.
Children will begin to learn crucial life skills from completing these tasks; learning independence, the importance of taking care of themselves and how to constructively interact with others in their surroundings.
Why is structure important for someone with autism?
Structure is essential for those with autism, and especially children because their life often feels as if it is full of chaos.
They can struggle to regulate emotions while being overloaded by everyday senses like sight, sound, and movement.
Structure provides order in the lives of those with autism, and children in particular can learn over time what to expect in their day and when it will happen.
Predictability and organisation are important, and so routine comes naturally.
Children with autism want to live in safe and calm environment where they know what is coming next.
That is why repetition is one of the more prominent behaviours exhibited by those with the condition.
They want to engage in productive routines, which is why having a positive daily and weekly structure in place is so useful.
It is widely recognised that routine and structured living helps us all to cope with change, encourages healthy habits and reduces levels of stress and anxiety.
An organised life removes anxiety associated with the unexpected which, again, is why structure is so important for individuals with autism.
Autistic children have an already stressful sensory life, and need to find ways to reduce stress.
Once stressors are removed, it makes it easier for children to learn and enjoy activities.
A relaxed child is better at learning new habits, developing skills and enjoying an feeling of accomplishment.
Why does structure sometimes fail?
All children need structure, but those with autism and other processing challenges will become reliant on a familiar routine that planned days provides.
That could include following a specific route while walking to school, or having a meal at a set time every day. However, if there is a sudden change or an unexpected disruption, it risks leaving a child feeling stressed which in turn prompts negative behaviour.
It could be something as simple as a family member sitting in the ‘wrong’ seat at the dinner table, but such an apparently trivial act may cause them to emotionally deteriorate and, in some instances, have a meltdown.
It is important to remember in these instance that, while their response may appear unwarranted if they are upset by such a minor change, this is the way autistic children process information.
It could also be a delayed reaction to an earlier event.
They may cry, scream, become reclusive, or act out verbally and physically, becoming completely inconsolable for the duration.
Such reactions can often occur due to increased feelings of stress and anxiety in response to changes in their usual routine that is structured to make them feel safe.
How can a Weekly Organiser Board help to introduce structure?
By using our Weekly Visual Timetable, children can use their own personalised images to introduce structure to their week.
With accurate visual aids, they can begin to organise their days and implement a routine that reduces anxieties over school, their morning habits, changes in routine, transitions, alterations to agreed activities like what is to eat for tea, medical appointments or social events.
With the help of the Weekly Visual Timetable Board parents, carers, teachers and professionals have reported a significant reduction in the number of meltdowns because of the way it assists to foster a routine for children of all ages.
At OurBoards, we have a vision to support people facing challenges associated with understanding information.
As a result, we design and manufacture visual communication boards that help individuals to understand and manage their environment, thoughts, behaviours and emotions.
If you would like to find out more about how our weekly organiser board can help to improve your child’s daily and weekly life, don’t hesitate to get in touch with a member of our team today by calling 0560 285 2493.
We are happy to help you find the right board for your specific situation.