Jo Worgan column

Guardian columnist Jo Worgan
Guardian columnist Jo Worgan

The Christmas holidays mean a significant change of routine for Tom and he thrives on structure and routine.

During the holidays and especially over Christmas we have found that the lack of routine can be very unsettling for him.

We are all at home and the familiar routine of school is no longer there, this can cause great distress and uncertainty for him. Tom likes to know what is happening.

What we have found useful are all of the visual tools and visual timetables that we use during the holidays.

Showing him what is to happen during the day and the order of events really helps to settle him. Usually the first thing that he does when emerging downstairs of a morning is go straight to his timetable, to see what will be happening that day.

Although the holidays can be an unsettling time for him I do look forward to the time at home with all my boys.

We just find that we have to plan and structure our day.

We have been very fortunate to receive PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) cards from Tom’s school and I have recently purchased visual aids from ASD Bright Ideas who run an online shop.

We now have a daily planner, as well as traffic light faces (red, green and orange) to foreworn Tom of any changes that will occur.

These are also particularly useful when playing sharing activities with Stephen.

I have a key ring set with me also when out and about as well as a mini visual timetable.

What we also find is that Tom will implement his own routine to add stability.

For example of a morning he will open up the Advent Calendar on the CBeebies website, then he will have his chocolate from his ‘actual’ Advent calendar, then he will sit with his iPad and have a drink of milk while watching his interactive train book.

He never deviates from this routine. Over the two weeks holiday he will probably invent a new morning routine, again to instil routine and lessen anxiety.

We survive over the holidays by finding something to do each day that will get us ‘out and about’ and then by clearly showing the structure of the day on his timetable.

If Tom can see what he is doing that day then he is happy and that means we are all happy too.