There are those few occasions that I’ll be coming on base a little later, due to a class or a meeting I need to attend, and I’ll hear the sounds of Reveille playing then everything stops at 07:30 sharp. Cars pull to the side of the road, the airman in uniform turn and solute at attention and nothing else matters for that short time. I think this is really cool as well.
Well, many of my readers may be asking the question, “what does this have to do with autism?” Well, it’s all about routine. As you may know, the military is about routine. You have certain things you have to do at a certain time, a certain way and do it right. At least for our family, routines are very important. Mess with a routine; we throw our little boy for a loop that causes discomfort, anxiety and the occasional meltdown. It also results in questions like “how many things do we need to get from the store? or “how long are we going to be here?”. For some autistic kids (or adults for that matter), routines are crucial to their happiness and comfort in their worlds. As parents, we try to keep things routine as much as possible, then brace for those times when the routine is simply not possible. We also mentally prepare ourselves as much as possible for the meltdowns that are likely to arise from this break in routine.
Just as in the military, the routine is expected; we should remember that our autistic kids or loved ones may also expect a routine. In our house, it is often the meals are the same; the timing of their days needs to be close, etc. to keep us all comfortable. Should we as parents expect a perfectly orchestrated day, each and every day, the obvious answer is not at all, but it is important for us to understand when the routine has changed, it is much more discomforting to our autistic loved ones than it is on us.