Explaining Schedules to My Son with Autism

Back to the conversation of my son and his best friend…

My son has a schedule inside his head. He knows when he has some things scheduled, like school and Teen Club, and even sporting activities.

But, he also has—in his own head—expected times when he can do fun things like go to his friend’s house and play games.

What happens to him?

Well, my son has HIS times when he thinks he can go and play with his buddy.

Yet, he doesn’t quite understand that his schedule may not coincide with the schedule(s) of other people.

How does this cause conflict?

This causes conflict when I have to explain to him that so-and-so may not be around at two in the afternoon on Saturday, when you want to go play.

I have to explain to him that maybe this other family doesn’t quite know their plans yet for the weekend, and it’s only Tuesday.

I have to explain to him that other people run their lives differently than us.

How does he react to that?

Mostly, he doesn’t like it.

He gets mad at me when I try to explain to him that I cannot say for sure that another family will be okay with a two PM play date on Saturday, because I don’t know their schedule and they may be busy.

This sometimes leads to frustration on the part of my son.

How can they be busy when it’s my time?

How can I help my son?

I have to stick with the “They may be busy, but I’ll ask and see what they say” mantra.

I have said that so many times already.

I have also mentioned that the schedule in his head is not the one in the head of anyone else but him.

His buddy has his family and his own life.

It’s not to hurt him. I have to make it clear they’re not purposely being busy in order to avoid him (I know this family and that’s very, very true).

How do I resolve this problem?

It has yet to really be resolved, and perhaps it never will gets fully resolved. We all want our schedules to work out well for us. We like it when the world matches up with our life just perfectly.

But, I have to keep reminding my son that the world usually doesn’t work that way, it may every once in a while, but usually it doesn’t.

Unexpected things happen, and other people have their own lives.

We do our best for ourselves and our children.

When it works out well, we’re happy—especially for our kids.

That schedule in our heads has to be flexible and understanding of how the world works, most of the time. And, when it works in our favor—woo hoo!


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