Morning Routes for My Child to Avoid Meltdowns

When it comes to children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), there are many challenges to face. Mornings especially can be a tough time. Not only do you have to get yourself ready for the day but also get your child up and ready as well. For parents in general, having a morning routine that's in place can be a lifeline, especially for kids with ASD. They provide a predictable routine that allows children to control their environment.

Having one in place makes a big difference, but what if you haven't gotten this far? These are a few of the steps to take to help initiate a morning routine and avoid meltdowns.

1. Start early

This may be challenging if you're not naturally a morning person but giving yourself a little extra time may make all the difference. You can offset an earlier wake-up time but having your child go to bed a little early. It may be easier for your child if they wake up and go to sleep at the same time, even on the weekend.

If you haven't done this in the past, set a bedtime and wake-up schedule and stick to it. Your child may struggle at first to get used to this time but will eventually get into the routine. By getting up a little earlier than normal, you'll have extra time to work on the routine and deal with any challenges that may arise.


2. Plan Ahead

To get a good morning routine going, saving every task for the morning may not work well. After all, getting kids out the door in time is going to be challenging, even on a good day. It's best to think about what you can do the night before. You can work this into its routine of sorts. For example, you and your child can lay out the next day's outfit as a part of their bedtime routine. The next morning, it's ready to go and they won't have to sort through their clothes. 

Other tasks such as taking showers, organizing the backpack, and making lunch can typically be done in the evening. If you can't fit all of these items into the nighttime routine, try to fit at least a few of them so you'll have more time in the morning. Keeping the morning task list low is a great way to make sure that it gets done. Work with your child to develop a routine by creating a list of small steps to complete every morning. Once your child knows the routine, they're more likely to stick with it.


3.Get help with Visual Supports

Some kids do a great job if they have a written schedule while others may need a little more support. Using pictures or symbols to walk your child through what needs to happen every morning is a great way to avoid meltdowns. A schedule that lays out the sequence of events takes the variability out of the morning. You can make this as detailed or general as needed.

Some children may be able to follow general guidelines while others need a detailed activity guide. If your child isn't responding to the symbols, consider using a short video that models each step for the morning tasks. 


4. Deal with anxiety

If you haven't developed a routine before with your child, it's going to take your child some time to get used to this new way of doing things. Instead of setting up a new schedule right away, consider working towards a schedule by transitioning to it. If your child can participate in the process, consider having them be involved with setting it up.

Work with your child to write down a list of things that need to get done every morning and allow them to set up their schedule if they can. This will not only help with anxiety but allow them to control their environment.


Having a morning routine can make the difference between having a great day and dealing with endless migraines. Make sure that you set up a routine that's practical and fairly simple to keep it going and help your child feel comfortable every day.

You might also be interested in this blog: How to Get My Child to Sleep Alone? TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING A CHILD UNDER THE SPECTRUM TO SLEEP ALONE

1 comment

  • This was very helpful mornings with our great grandson are horrible for all we have custody of him he has adhd he is going to be 9 in may

    Patricia Eddings

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