They may like to do things in the same way each time (for example, taking the same route to school or college, eating the same foods or wearing the same clothes every day). They often prefer to have routines. This helps them feel safe and comfortable.
School routine and timetables can be helpful. Some autistic children can struggle with school holidays when they are no longer in the school routine.
Many autistic people get stressed if things don’t happen in the way that they expect or in the way that they are used to – for example if plans or routines are changed. This can make an autistic person feel very uneasy.
Changes can be difficult – such as a change of room or teacher or starting a new school. Celebration days, festivals, school trips, parties and even non-school uniform days can be stressful too.
There are various thoughts on why autistic people need predictability – but when you think how unpredictable and stressful sensory and social situations can be, you can see why predictability is probably preferable – in essence it feels so much safer and calmer!
What can help?
- Knowing what to expect and sticking to plans whenever possible
- Supporting an autistic person to stick to their preferred places and ways of doing things whenever possible – such as where to sit in class or the dinner hall, or what equipment to use
- Negotiating and forewarning of any changes to plans whenever possible
- Using visuals to inform and remind what will be happening and when (e.g. visual timetables, showing pictures of new people or places)
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