Ten Ways To Establish Home Self-Care Routines for Children In Toronto With Autism

For children in Toronto on the autism spectrum, establishing self-care routines can be instrumental in fostering independence and well-being. 

Our Toronto autism clinic will explore ten tips for introducing and maintaining self-care routines at home, empowering both parents and neurodivergent children in establishing essential life skills.

1. Make the Timings Consistent
There can be established times in the day for things like brushing their teeth and combing their hair. All self-care activities can have a consistent timing so they happen like clockwork each night. Creating a routine with predictable schedules helps your child feel secure and understand what to expect. This familiarity helps to reduce anxiety. 

2. Make it Fun

There’s no reason that washing your face can’t be fun. Frame self-care activities positively. Use positive reinforcement, praise, or small rewards to motivate and make the experience enjoyable. Lightening the mood will create a positive association with self-care routines.

3. Use Clear and Concise Instructions
Go back to the basics in your instructions on how things should be done. Offer clear, easy-to-understand instructions for each step of the routine. Break down tasks into simple steps to enhance understanding and support a child in independently completing the activities. 

4. Understand Your Child’s Individual Needs

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to self care and the individual child. Recognize the uniqueness of each neurodivergent child. Some might love to cut their fingernails, and for others it might be a battle. Tailor self-care routines based on their preferences, sensitivities, and abilities, ensuring that the routines align with their individual needs.

5. Slowly Build Momentum
Introduce self-care routines slowly and  gradually. There’s no need to give them a detailed and overwhelming list of tasks to complete. Wait until they master one process before adding the next one to the mix. Start with small, manageable tasks, and gradually increase complexity over time. In this manner, you allow children to build confidence and adapt to the routine at their own pace.

6. Visual Supports Can Be Your Friend
Make it visual, colourful, and fun. Incorporate visual schedules and charts to outline self-care routines. Visual supports provide a clear, step-by-step guide, aiding in understanding and promoting independence in completing tasks.

7. Be Flexible
Both you and the child need to recognize that flexibility is key. While consistency is important, allowing for some adaptability within the routine accommodates the child’s preferences and helps maintain a sense of autonomy.

8. Do It As A Team
Get your child involved in the planning stage of their own self-care routine. Collaboration empowers them, providing a sense of ownership and control over their daily activities, making the routine more meaningful.

9. Use Multi-Sensory Approaches

From the scent of the eucalyptus hand soap, to the texture of a nail file, to the popping noise of the bathtub drain—think of how you can draw attention to the touches, smells, and sounds of the processes. Incorporate multi-sensory elements into self-care routines. Consider sensory sensitivities and preferences, integrating textures, scents, or sensory tools to enhance the overall experience. 

10. Celebrate The Everyday Victories

Whether it’s putting the cap back on the toothpaste, or keeping their fingernails clean—celebrate each achievement and sign of progress in self-care routines. Acknowledge even small successes—these milestones contribute to the child’s sense of accomplishment and motivation to continue developing their skills.

Establishing self-care routines for children with autism in Toronto is a journey that requires patience, understanding, and an individualized approach. By implementing these tips, parents can create an environment that encourages independence, builds essential life skills, and nurtures the well-being of their children with autism.