Some autistic people are locked into strict routines. There could be different reasons for this, from always knowing what comes next and therefore being prepared for it, to needing that locked order to get through the day, to a simple preference of having things nailed down and not loose to minimize any surprises which would be tough. Going away from those routines can cause anything from slight discomfort to meltdowns.
We're lucky that Xan can handle changes and differences. Things do tend to go wrong, accidents happen, and I can't tell you how many times even vague plans of ours (wanna try to grab a bite to eat one day this week, say) have run aground on the rocky shoals of life getting its own way. I suppose we COULD get into a minute-by-minute plan if we really had to, but I bet something would crop up to destroy it quickly.
In terms of scheduling, we are free from routines. But we are not free from routine things.
Like Xan fighting sleep. We put him to bed early most nights, reasoning if it takes him four hours to go to sleep. starting at seven equals an eleven o'clock bedtime - getting him up around six means seven hours sleep. Not too bad. But if we put him to bed at eleven and he finally wears down at three and then we get him up at six, that's not too good. At the least he will be cranky as heck and not wanting to do things for himself which will make him mad when we won't help, and he may fall asleep during the day. Like many kids, one hour of a nap in the afternoon seems to recharge him for the day, which means another late night.
And there's being around to help Xander do things. Here we have to be very careful we don't get into habit of doing things for him but make him do as much as the task as he an himself. But we're usually around to help him if he really needs. The flip side of this routine is we don't get much time to ourselves, always keeping an eye and ear out to see if he needs help.
Of course, there's the usual guessing game of what he says. A lot of times when he IS asking for something using his words, he talks so fast we can only pick out a few words. And he still has trouble with similar sounds - b,d,p, etc. 'Cheese Toast' in his regular voice and speed sounds a lot like 'Cheetos'. Did he say 'Party Time' or 'potty time'? One's a DVD he likes, one is a sign that he's got some problems going on. So that's pretty regular for us.
One thing is sure, though - all of his routines make him special. And some routine things for others are more than special for us.
We don't take anything for granted, and little steps he makes as he grows take on magical and fantastic colors to us. He's started being very choosy about what he wears. I lay out some clothes for him to change into after school, and about twice per week he puts back what I choose and grabs something else. That's probably pretty common for kids, but for us it was huge. Independent thought and choice, getting things himself instead of making us do it, picking his particular wants himself...all a special move.
He's very vocal about what music he wants to listen to. Lucero's "I Can't Stand To Leave You
" is a huge favorite of his, as is Avenged Sevenfold's "Bat Country"
- and those are kinda different songs. It's so great to see him make choices, ask for those choices, and rock back and forth in the car as his music plays. Every parent has seen this routine...but for us it's never routine.
Him being able to handle what the world throws at him, for the most part, is also fantastical to us. There are days when we're happy and proud of him for not doing anything that caused troubles, like when we put Casper to sleep, when the pipe broke, when I had my knee surgery, all of them unscheduled and stressful. But he handled them all mostly well, which was a huge help for us. Others may expect that from their kids as a matter of course.
And so many more things that others may take for granted.
Our routine is anything but, and some routine acts of his are miraculous.