The Therapeutic Power of Routine to Get Homework Done
I think we all know how much our kids hate the unexpected or change in routine.
As you start back to school, establishing a healthy routine from the very beginning is very powerful. This is something you should plan as a parent, and explain to your child in advance (5- 7 days) of school starting to give them an opportunity to adjust their thinking about it.
When kids with autism get home, they are typically exhausted from managing the day at school, often holding it together until they just cross the threshold and then being on the verge of having a complete meltdown. If you can catch the child before they are in a full-blown meltdown, we recommend implementing a consistent routine that begins with going to the bathroom, having a snack, and then participating in some neurological regulation activity for 30 minutes, or whatever it takes to help calm the child and regulate them neurologically. That might be walking the dog, jumping on a trampoline, swinging in a swing, or some other activity that the child prefers. (For more description on how to successfully use activity for neurological regulation, please see the Essential Parenting Guidance Training). Once the child is regulated, homework should be done before any other recreational activity (especially video games).
Use the First/then technique to support the child in making the decision to do the homework. “First you have to finish your homework, then you can play your video games.” This needs to be a hard a fast rule to be effective. Children with autism can be very persistent in requesting what they want in the moment, but holding tight to the idea that the homework needs to be completed before the preferred activity will pay off once the child gets adjusted to the routine.
As always, children with autism benefit from visuals, so having a visual schedule that they can reference is probably helpful. Some children do get overwhelmed if they see too much on the schedule, so experiment with displaying the entire schedule vs. just the next step to see which is less difficult for your child.
Implementing a strong routine and being consistent can pay big benefits in helping your child get through the daily homework grind.