Autism Resources

How to Create a Morning Routine for Your Child

Lisa Buxton February 18, 2022

Establishing routines can be helpful for all children, especially when it comes to getting ready in the morning. Children with autism particularly appreciate predictable, established daily rhythms and patterns, particularly when those routines are broken up into easily accomplishable steps and tasks. With Daylight Savings nearly upon us, having a functional morning routine is more important than ever. At Trumpet Behavioral Health, we want to make sure that you’re prepared. 

Related: Helping Children With Autism Sleep Better

Here’s how to build out a reliable morning routine that will make getting ready and out the door in the morning easier and more fun for the whole family. 

Break Up the Morning Into Easily Achievable Tasks

As with any larger endeavor, creating task analyses and teaching them using chaining helps make the entire process more simple for children with autism. The first step in establishing a successful morning routine is to think about all of the different things your child will need to accomplish before leaving the house, then list them out. For example, your list might look something like this: 

  1. Get out of bed
  2. Eat breakfast
  3. Get dressed
  4. Pack your backpack
  5. Leave the house 

Once you have your list of getting ready steps, then you’ll want to do task analysis, and proceed to break down those larger tasks into simple, easy to accomplish series of tasks. In this example, for instance, the first step, “Get up and have breakfast” can be broken down into smaller tasks like: 

  1. Turn off your alarm
  2. Get out of bed
  3. Go to the kitchen
  4. Pick your flavor of breakfast applesauce
  5. Eat your applesauce
  6. Throw away your trash
  7. Go back to your room to start getting dressed

Breaking the process of your entire morning routine into these smaller, more manageable tasks and then chaining them will lead to greater success and more importantly, the creation of a comprehensive routine that you and your child can stick with. 

Build a Schedule

Once you have your tasks broken down into manageable chunks, it can help tremendously to build out a physical schedule that your child can reference and follow along with. A physical schedule can provide a visual for your child for each step or task of the routine. Keeping a written-out schedule of tasks can help you stay consistent—a factor which is key to routine-building. 

Related: How Delivering Instructions Can Help Prevent Tantrums for Children with Autism

Use Reinforcement and Stick to Your Routine

Whenever you are trying to establish a daily routine for a child with autism, it’s very important to remember the role that reinforcement plays. Understand what motivates your child, and what they enjoy as reinforcement, and reward them each step of the way. 

Generalizing To Strengthen the Routine

Once you and your child have established a pretty comfortable rhythm with regard to your daily morning routine, make sure to build in studied differences at each step of the way in order to generalize the morning routine skill. Just be careful not to change too many things at once. Whenever you attempt to generalize a skill, be sure to rely on reinforcement, chaining, and whatever other aids your child benefits from as you generalize. Generalizing your child’s morning routine can help prepare them for any unforeseen complications or changes from day-to-day. 

For more help with creating a routine that you and your family can stick to, consult your Trumpet Behavioral Health provider today. Your child’s ABA therapist might be able to shine a light on certain tools and methods that your child responds best to, and can give valuable insight on how to build a morning routine that you can stick to.