image The daily care of a child with autism can often seem overwhelming. Meeting their physical needs, responding to their emotions, creating an appropriate environment, and helping them learn is an ongoing challenge.

Although every child is unique and the level of autistic tendencies varies widely, there are some factors that have been found to make caring for a child with autism a little easier. The following are some of the most effective ways to help you and your family live with a child with autism.

All children benefit from a consistent routine; however, a routine is often a necessity for a child with autism. Involve all family members in the decision of what the routine should be. Individual needs, temperaments, schedules, and commitments should be considered. The routine allows the child with autism to predict the day's events, which should bring security. Janice, a mother of three boys with autism, ages 19, 10, and 8, says, "I found that a routine helps to keep confusion out of their already confused world. If the routine needs to change, I let them know ahead of time."

Establish a set time for meals, bath, play, activities, shopping, school, friends, and bedtime. Abide by the routine as much as possible. Be sure that family members, friends, teachers, and neighbors are familiar with the routine so they can be supportive.

Sometimes circumstances beyond one's control and the demands of the day interrupt the routine. It is common for the child with autism to protest the change with undesirable behavior, such as screaming, self-inflicted injury, destructive behavior, or verbal attacks. Although the parent understands the reason for the negative behavior, it is important that they respond with the same consistent consequences. Then, return to the routine as soon as possible.