Tips from the folks at Paperworks Studio
March 23, 2012
By Paperworks Studio
Change is an inevitable part of life and the workplace. Things don’t always stay the same. Things change and that is okay. Sometimes it can be hard when things change, especially when you are used to doing things a certain way. But you need to be flexible and make changes as needed so that you can do your job well. At work, procedures and routines need to be changed or modified for a variety of reasons.
Most individuals on the autism spectrum don't like changes in routines. They like to stay on a schedule that is always the same. We often tell older, transition-age students that they must try something TEN TIMES before they can decide, or “claim,” that they do not like it. This is a rule we follow in our classrooms, and because it is a rule, most students learn to abide by it. We set the expectation high and that expectation eventually becomes the norm.
Learning how to make changes needs to happen early and often! Your families and teachers should strive to help you learn how to make change become more comfortable, by thinking about the following…
- Practice flexibility - both in thoughts & actions.
- Choose things that are do-able. Start with little things. Although it will be hard at first, insist on the changes. Examples might be food & clothing preferences, types of activities, routes taken to go places, or people who you do things with. Take into account changes that can occur based on time, weather, schedule changes, circumstances, etc… get ready to practice change on a regular basis.
- When ready to practice changing or altering an established routine, it’s a good idea to begin to get the child accustomed to the change days before. Discuss the change with the child. Show them pictures that can help them begin to understand what might be happening. Go slow at first to gauge their receptiveness to the change. Parents and teachers should not only anticipate upcoming natural changes, but also be willing to manufacture opportunities to practice change – again, helping the child prepare by using stories and pictures, whenever possible.
- Here’s an example of how to START EARLY & CHANGE OFTEN INTENTIONALLY practicing change:
Subject > Eating habits – Let’s say there is a young person who really loves one “particular” fast food cheeseburger, with ketchup only - nothing else – and they only want to eat it while riding in their parents car.
Change the type of cheese on the same hamburger or add pickles; Eat the cheeseburger at a picnic table at the park; Transfer their love of a fast food cheeseburger to one made at Grandma’s house. Help them adapt to these changes more readily by adding elements that may not have anything to do with the food! Stay after the cheeseburger picnic to play at the park, (if that is something they enjoy!) OR Have them be the one to be chosen to walk Grandma’s dog after dinner (if that is something they enjoy!). If you can connect the change to an enjoyable activity or memory for them, chances are the next time a change is necessary, it will be just a little bit easier. Keep in mind, those “little bits” eventually multiply into bigger bits.
Making changes must begin at the earliest age possible! We must begin to interrupt routines as soon as we notice they are becoming routines. Although changes can be frustrating and stressful, on everyone involved, the younger we start practicing, the easier it will be when we are older and need to get along in the workplace.
The Autism Society has teamed up with Goodwill’s Paperworks Studio, a mission-based, social enterprise that employs artists with disabilities to create unique greeting cards from recycled materials like blue jeans, coffee, wool sweaters and flowers. For every pack of greeting cards sold, the company will donate a portion to the Autism Society. The quality of the cards is impeccable and the love and inspiration is unmatched. Purchase the cards here!
Topics:Living with Autism
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