I’m not great at change. I don’t think many Aspies are. Plenty of non-Aspies aren’t good at change either. It occurred to me the other day that when I prepare myself for change, I can cope without getting that sick feeling in my stomach. I don’t get anxious. When I say “prepare”, I mean it might even be as simple as telling myself that while plans are in place, something might happen to change them. That way, I’m ready: a possible change is part of the plan and therefore not unexpected.
This could work with older children and teenagers. Instead of worrying about a meltdown in case a routine is thrown out of whack, tell them that their routine might get thrown out of whack on this one occasion. Explain why a change might occur, the causes and effects. Plan how your Aspie will handle the change.
An example of this is when we go out for the day, I might say to one of my kids: I’ve got this and this sorted out, I’m going to do this and this, but if THIS happens, I need you to deal with it. I’ve planned all the things I’m responsible for so this one thing will be yours.
You could tell your child: we are going here to do this, but if the car breaks down before we get there, you will read your book until it’s fixed and we’re on the way again. Your list of jobs for the trip are: sit quietly, nap, read book if we stop for any reason … etc, or whatever is right for your kid.
And then afterwards, when a change has occurred and they haven’t freaked out/panicked/had a meltdown, point it out. Congratulate them. Show them that they now know they can handle unexpected change – a step forward!