Updated: May 13, 2021
by Dr. Madhuri Vaidyeswar
These Covid times are tough, even more so when you have a child with Autism or special needs. It's important to find ways to have the kids stay calm yet busy through the day, without going out. All kids, and especially kids with Autism, thrive on a routine, so let's create one for them, and for ourselves.
Create a daily home timetable of activities for your child, and use sound cues to help the child follow it.
The way a school uses bells to train children into switching activities, from class to class and to lunch time, you can train children into following routines at home.
Write a time table out in coloured markers or print this out and put it on your fridge/ someplace easy to access all the time. For the first few days set reminders for yourself on your phone or laptop.
You can use a pooja bell to ring as a reminder to switch activity each hour, or have a bell or alarm on Alexa for the child to hear and know it is time to switch activities.
Plan activities before hand so that they can do that activity even when you are busy.
Whether you are a work at home mom, or a work from home parent, you can make this work for you and your child.
Make sure to customise it according to your child's needs, abilities, interests and very importantly, to suit your schedule.
Here's a sample time table.
7am- wake up time, and brushing time - Use a bhajan/ chanting/ music as an alarm to wake the child up, and regulate the mood once they wake up. It is good to use the same music daily, the auditory cue helps train the brain into waking up at the same time every day.
8 am- yoga - There are good online resources for kids yoga classes, which are safe and fun. These can be played on any device, preferably a tv or a laptop so the child feels like they are with a coach. You'll find a good resource at https://www.youtube.com/user/CosmicKidsYoga
9 am- bath and breakfast - Get the child involved in simple activities like taking plates and glasses for everyone. This is age appropriate for even young kids, and is a good training opportunity for he kids. Also allow them to help serve others in the family, so they get a sense of responsibility and appreciation.
10 am- own time/ music time - This is a time they can choose the activity they want to do, or spend listening to their favourite music, or sing or play an instrument if they have the skill. Singing or chanting can be very good for regulating moods.
11 am- art/ craft- Look up ideas and keep the material ready in one place beforehand, so they can pick it up and start.
11.45 am- Fruit/ snack break- A good way to do this is to give them the snack box you would have sent to school, with a fruit, a few nuts or dry fruits. It's also a good practice to give them a water bottle filled every morning and afternoon, so you make sure they drink good quantities of water daily, esp in this summer heat.
12 pm- material based activity/ writing/ reading - Put out material for this activity before hand so that you know what they need to do at this time.
1 pm- home activity . Involve your child in all home activities including mopping, putting away dishes, hanging out clothes, watering plants, helping chop vegetables/ rolling chapathis. This needs to be based on their skill and ability, but do try, this is a very good opportunity to train them in these skills.
2 pm - lunch
3 pm- own time/ tv time - This can be calm down time for the child. Younger ones can take a nap, but this can delay bedtime at night, so is best to avoid.
4.15 pm- Material based play/ activity time- Puzzles, blocks, any play things they like, or art based activity.
5.00 pm- Snack break Get them involved in making their own snack, peeling a fruit or making a fruit salad, or a small sandwich.
5.30 pm- Exercise or dance - It's the time of the day they need to burn some energy. So how can we do this at home? Lots of amazing physical activity options are available on youtube. Kids will enjoy these exercise and dance routines, cast them on tv or tab and let the kids follow them. Just make sure they do the activity and don't sit down to watch these. This is a fun activity to do with siblings. If you can join them, it'll be a good workout for you too! This can last 30 to 45 mins at least based on their energy level. Here are some links to good movement activities, try them for yourself.
Kids workout- https://youtu.be/L_A_HjHZxfI
Bollywood dance workout- https://youtu.be/0at83VTh55M
Zumba workout- https://youtu.be/xfmHPW-AfQs
Walk at home- https://youtu.be/X7OzRLb2aKY
Look at all the above channels for more great at home activity and workouts.
Make sure they get in a good drink of water/ fresh juice after the activity.
| Daily physical activity and a good water intake will help maintain good immunity |
6.30 pm- own time/ music time
7.30/ 8 pm- Dinner
8.30 pm- calm activity time
9.30 -10pm - Calm music with bedtime. Help them calm down towards sleep with relaxing flute/ piano music.
Make sure they do most/ some of these activities independently while you do your own work. And sit with them for the activities they need assistance with.
Tailor this according to their interests.
Once they get used to this, you can bring in flexibility
Get the family involved in helping them stick to the schedule. If there are other children in the house, they can also follow a similar routine with their activities tailored in.
Go ahead, give it a try right now!
Enjoy this time with your children, stay home and stay safe.