Most of us know by now that change is a part of life. We’ve all experienced the kind of change that happens almost on a daily basis, such as last-minute schedule changes, change in temperature or weather, and the minute changes in our own temperament, preferences, and understanding of the world around us. Some change is more significant. By now, we’ve likely learned that even living situations, jobs, relationships, and health can change, sometimes slightly, other times in life-altering ways. Some changes are eagerly anticipated or even pursued by us. Others are dreaded. Some come after advanced notice; others appear suddenly, without warning.
Change generally necessitates other changes. We need to be flexible in order to adapt to the changes we cannot avoid. Some of us are perhaps better at this than others. Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may find change to be particularly difficult. Because they struggle with generalization (learning from experience and applying that to novel situations) and have difficulty making accurate guesses about why things happen the way they do (as well as how they could respond most effectively), much of life seems random to them. To compensate for this and to keep themselves more comfortable, they tend to grasp onto those things which are predictable, including routines, schedules, calendars, and clocks. Often the more predictable their surroundings are, the more they are able to handle the physical, emotional, sensory, and social demands of life. However, since change is inevitable, we need to find ways to help them cope with change and adapt as they go.
Visual strategies (such as those contained in the book by Linda Hodgdon), The Social Response Pyramid™, Social Stories™, “The Incredible 5-Point Scale,” and sensory integration techniques can often help parents and professionals working with individuals who have difficulty with change. Resources such as these can give them tools for understanding the need for change or dealing with it more effectively.
Next week we’ll examine the second half of the quote, “Change is inevitable…growth is optional.”
Let’s have an exciting week as we navigate change together!