Thursday, June 9, 2011

Routine is King!

Almost one week in and still standing! Today was a little rough, boredom is bringing out some irritability and explosive behavior in my son. Unlike last year, he isn’t like this the whole day. He may have moments of being excited about organizing his legos and has big plans of making lego videos, but later he’s screaming at his brothers and stomping around the house looking tortured because he’s bored. It appears that he shifts to a place in his mind where he can’t get enjoyment from things, so activities that once seemed exciting no longer hold their appeal for him.

I spoke to my son about maybe adding another medication and he seemed interested. We decided to monitor his moods for now as we pray about this, before we make the call to our pychiatrist for Lamictal.

One thing that is helping us as a whole is having a routine. My son specifically asked for a schedule of what we’ll be doing each day and at what time. He said that it stresses him out to not have a schedule. So that’s exactly what we’ve been working on this week.

So far we have mealtimes, bible studies, public outings, reading times, free time and even my cleaning times all scheduled for the week. Each morning I let him know what to expect for the day, keeping some things like “library day” and “swim day” on the same days each week.

I have to admit, it feels good knowing what to expect and it helps keep me on my toes!


  1. At the preschool I work for we also have art time each day, movie time, and some sort of water play. Do you have a slip and slid or local pool you can use? Also maybe he would like to get into puzzles or putting together a model car. You should take him to a local hobby store and look around to see if anything interest him.

    I think it is so wonderful you have made a schedule because it is so very important. It gives him time to confront his anxieties about any outings. Also if you have a camcorder maybe you should let him make movies for the summer. Stuff to get the creative juices flowing. You do so well with your kids...I hope to be like that when I am a mommy.

  2. Mama, has anyone at the school or his pdoc or anyone suggested that your son may be on the autism spectrum [high functioning] in addition to the mood issues (they usually go hand in hand)? So many of the issues you describe sound a lot more like autism spectrum than straight mood disorder to me. Just a thought.

  3. In The Pink-Thanks for the great idea of a hobby store, he loves to build stuff!

    Meg- No, no one has made that kind of connection with Autism. I can see where my mentioning my son’s desire for routine being like autism, but it is expressed differently.

    The child I babysit has autism and he would be obsessed with order and routine. He HAD to have snack at 3 pm and would constantly remind me that it was 3 pm if I was running late. My son however, doesn't express this kind of compulsion. I think for him it is related to his anxieties about "what we’re going to do next and what to expect.” It is hard to explain, but it looks different. My son won't talk about the time and doesn't get stressed if we are off. I don't know if it is having structure that makes him feel good or what. Maybe In the Pink can shed some light on this if she herself ever felt better having routines set in place.

  4. Does anyone else see this kind of response in their kids?

  5. Sounds much like my house. Although my kids fight having schedules, they really seem to do better with a known routine for the day.

  6. Here he needs to have the days go like he anticipates it to be. approximate schedule which he(no one else...) can alter. If we or somebody else need to change things we need to be very proactive and think ahead. To give a warning up ahead before changes.
    If some other kid made an appointment of a playdate and forgot(or did something else) all hell might be loose... and yes it's different than aspergers or autism.

  7. And I should add, boredom is chronic and devestating. To be hones "bored to death" is not far from the truth. To say a bit strong.

  8. You bring up a good point Anonymous about giving a lot of advance warning before a schedule change. The disappointment is unbearable.

  9. My son is the same way with routine and schedule. He has gotten a little better as he gets older (he's 12) but for a few years during the summer we would put up a white board every day with the schedule. And it would be the first thing he would look at when he got up.

  10. Betsy-I like the white board idea!

    Just Friday my son mentioned how much he liked having a schedule, when I asked him why, he said, well when I’m feeling bored I can look at our schedule and know what’s coming up next and that helps me feel better.

  11. It seems maybe the anxiety is the issue.

    The only reason I mentioned anything is that as I've read your descriptions of your son over the year your son sometimes sounds co close to a couple of kids we know well that have Aspergers as well as mood disorder. The need for routine [not obsession, but need and desire], struggle with social situations, struggle with friends in school, high academic achievement, struggle with transitions, explosive reactions - and none of these things would you see if you did not know the child well.

    I'm sorry if I was out of line in mentioning this.

  12. Meg- You were not out of line at all. I so appreciate your feedback. That is why I ask questions here, we all have different experiences and have seen children behave in many different ways. Please, keep the questions coming!

  13. We have schedule "anxiety" around here too. I use a white board and write out the schedule for the week on it. The board is hung up by the dining room table where it is easy to see. We have a family meeting every Sunday night where we go over the schedule for the next week. (My issue is making sure I get the schedule up before the meeting!)

    But the other thing I do before going into an event is playing the "what if?" game. I try to get him to imagine a couple of scenarios, so that if something doesn't go as planned he's more prepared for it. (Especially things we have no control over: like weather or other people.)