You want to make a change in your routine but your loved one with autism or Asperger’s Syndrome really dislikes change. Transitioning to something new can be extremely difficult for them. Sometimes it may seem as though an endless stream of questions pours out of your child, student, friend, or spouse with ASD. There may be times when you feel as if you can’t make even the smallest change without being subjected to an interrogation, so things stay the same despite the need for change.
You can make transitions easier. First, try to remember that changes are a source of stress for people that have autism spectrum disorders. Their questions are necessary to reduce the anxiety they feel. With that in mind, here are some things to try:
- Give them a “heads up” change is coming. They may need an hour, a day, a week, or a month to prepare. There is a sweet spot in timing. If you tell them with too much time, they can get stuck worrying about what may happen. If you give them too little time, the change may cause such immediate stress that it becomes very difficult to actually follow through with it. You will need to experiment with what works best.
- Write/ text/ email the change and the reasons for it. Seeing it in a written form will allow your person with ASD to take the time needed to process the information, and hopefully, you will also have addressed a few of their questions up front.
- Answer questions honestly.
- Ask your own questions to determine if there are any sources of discomfort you can problem solve in advance.
- Create a plan and a contingency plan. Share these so that your loved one feels ready and supported.
Now go for it!
Rebecca J. Weaver is a Certified Autism Specialist at Independent with Autism, working to empower individuals with ASD. Need help problem-solving? Check out IndependentwithAutism.com for more information.