Monday, May 07, 2007

The Importance of Routine

The Importance of Routine

In the past my daughter Savannah, who has Asperger's, did not care much about her personal hygiene. Having a shower and washing her hair on a regular basis was not a huge priority for her. Most younger children and teens on the spectrum do not independently learn what they need to know about hygiene and self-care; so it is important as a parent to teach your child as early as possible the importance of keeping clean and tidy. For my daughter even brushing her hair was a struggle and she would get frustrated and not want to do it. Now that she is fifteen she has made incredible progress in all of these areas. The most important factor was not so much recognizing when she needed a shower or to wash her hair but rather to decide that she will shower every second day regardless of whether she needed one or not. This worked wonderfully and she would set her alarm for 6:30 AM learning from trial and error how much extra time she would need to comb out and dry her hair so as not to be late for school. This was not something that happened overnight and we all encouraged her by telling her how well she was doing with her hygiene routine.

About a week ago her Father in one of his bad moods asked Savannah if she could possible have her shower the night before school because the running of water that early in the morning was waking him up and he found it hard to go back to sleep. Luckily, I was in the room at the time and promptly set him straight on how important it was that Savannah has an established routine. I sometimes have to remind him that she has Asperger's and routine is very important to her. Anything that throws her out of whack such as choosing a different day to shower when she has kept to a strict every second day pattern would be very difficult for her and she could start to regress. After that he apologized to her and told her to shower whenever she wanted.

As her Mother and her strongest advocate I know that we all have to make sacrifices sometimes when it comes to Savannah. Whether it is putting up with early morning showers or biting our tongue when she may say something rude to us without meaning it to be. She is honest to a fault and that is one of the qualities I wouldn't want to change about her. She will learn in time and with practice that sometimes she needs to take the time to think, before blurting out that someone is a bit of a pig if they eat too much cake or even better find a nicer way to say it. As I have told her many times, it is not what you say, but how you say it.

All the best


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