How Do Children with Autism Deal With the Unexpected? Part 2
4 mins read

How Do Children with Autism Deal With the Unexpected? Part 2

In my last blog, I discussed a few situations where our child with autism had trouble with the unexpected. I explained how he would tell us that something was unexpected and we would talk to him and usually get him to try things.

Should we practice the unexpected?

I also mentioned in my last blog that our kids sometimes adore their routines and schedules. They are comforting to them.

But, should you take a different route home because you know that your child expects the same route every single day and you’re changing the routine to “test” the unexpected?

Well, my answer is why not? Testing the waters is never a bad thing in my opinion. The goal is to help your child deal with the unexpected, right? This is one approach. It may help that you are controlling the change and discuss it with your child while it’s happening. You can call it practice if you want. Tell your child that it’s okay to take a different route home sometimes.

We live in the Los Angeles area which means…traffic jams. Sometimes freeways or streets are closed and you are forced to take a different route. So, why not practice a different route

occasionally so that your child can learn that sometimes it’s not your fault? Life throws us curves and you have to accept them.

This is where you also end up trying new things. We often ask our child to try things, sometimes just for the experience of trying something different. Why not?

If you try something new and explain it ahead of time to your child, you never know what could happen. Your child may be okay with it. Or not… and then you try again. Someday, you may get favorable results.

But, you’ll never know this if you don’t try.

Flexibility is hard for our kids and we can never plan for the unexpected. However, your child should try to learn that, at some point in their lives, they may have to deal with unexpected changes. The unexpected is a part of our world – and theirs.

I’m advocating trying to find a reasonable way to help teach your child how to deal with the unexpected for the benefit of the entire family.

What if preparing for the unexpected backfires?

Look, you try to tell your child that you’re trying something different. Then, you talk your child through the change and explain that it’s practice. What’s the worst that can happen?

Okay, maybe you have to deal with a tantrum. They are never pleasant, I know.

Then, you try it again someday.

Another tantrum?  Okay, you deal with this tantrum.

Then, you try again and again. You keep talking to your child and explaining that it’s okay to try something different. Pretty soon, you may experience that the tantrums decrease or even disappear. And you may also realize that you have successful led your child through a difficult transition. You worked on your child’s ability to be flexible. It wasn’t easy, but it benefitted your child. And, it’s worth trying.

Any other suggestions?

Sometimes we use time limits with our child. We ask him to try something for five or ten minutes. It could be sitting in a group setting to listen to a book or trying a new game. We have taught him to try to tolerate something for a limited time. He loves timers, so we play to his strength. It makes him feel like he’s in control of the situation while he’s also trying something new. It makes him feel comfortable.

You always want to keep in mind the long term goals for your child. Our world will always have the unexpected. Always. And, our kids need to learn that and learn ways to accept it. Practicing is beneficial for everyone- especially the future of your child.

To Find Kimberly Kaplan: or Amazon Kindle ebook “A Parents’ Guide to Early Autism Intervention”
Twitter: @tipsautismmom

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