Daily Routines for Children with Intellectual Disability

Routines help our family life run more smoothly. They are also a way to help Mitra develop skills.

Routines help our family life run more smoothly. They are also a way to help Mitra develop skills.

Our routines

These are how we organize ourselves to get things done, make the life more predictable for Mitra, spend time together and have fun. Routines help us know who should do what, when, in what order and how often.

Main parts of our routines are for things we do every day – for example, getting ready for bed: it involves going to toilet, washing hands, brushing teeth, going to her room, turning off the lights, watching the soothing sky projector and going to sleep. We do these in the same order each night.

We have also some weekly or occasional routines. Examples are going to the park a few times a week or going to playground on weekends.

Communication book and visual schedules works very well for Mitra.

Communication book and visual schedules works very well for Mitra.

How routines are good for Mitra

An organized and predictable home environment helps Mitra feel safe and secure, especially when things are stressful or when she is going through difficult stages or experiences.

These routines are also a way for Mitra to develop new skills. For example, when Mitra has a goal to work on cooperation skills and taking turns, we remind her that she should put the trash in the right place while I am unpacking the ice cream for her.

Mitra has complex needs and we need to carry out most of her routine care but she still enjoys and benefits from being part of our daily routines.

These routines are very good for us too. They free up time for us to think about other things and help us feel more organized. We also use them to introduce fun family activities like games or doing activities together. These activities are good for relaxed family bonding and togetherness.

Making the routines more effective

Just like typically developing children, Mitra likes and needs routine more than others. As a result, we consider the routines that suit Mitra and us and that make our daily family life easier.

We do our best to make sure that:

  • The routines are well planned by making them clear so that everyone in the family understands their role and knows what they need to do
  • The routines are regular in a way that they become part of everyday family life
  • The routines are predictable where things happen in the same order each time
We have pictures and photos almost everywhere at home for ease of communication and better routines.

We have pictures and photos almost everywhere at home for ease of communication and better routines.

How we change the routines?

When circumstances change and unexpected things come up we need to be flexible – for example, if Mitra isn’t well or hasn’t slept well, or we go on holiday. We find after a break that we need to bring back routines back in gradually.

Sometimes we just change the routines on purpose (when we feel we have enough energy:)). This way Mitra can enjoy spontaneity and fun just as all children do.

Other people who care for Mitra also appreciate knowing about her routines – for example, friends, family or music therapist.

Helping Mitra follow routines

We help Mitra take part in family routines. It is as simple as using words (she understands and reacts good when we talk to her both in Norwegian and Russian), using signs (like lifting the right hand for “more”) and pictures.

Communication book works very well for Mitra. It is a simple book made with photos and simple phrases. Visual schedules are also very helpful. We also use a timer to give her better feeling of time (for activities and when we want her to wait).

Using a timer is vital for following the routines and giving a better sense of time!

Using a timer is vital for following the routines and giving a better sense of time!

Thanks for reading!

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