Easing the Effects of Daylight Savings Time on Kids With Autism
It’s likely that when daylight saving time was implemented in the early 1900s, the difficulties that time changes create for individuals with autism were not considered. Routines are highly valued by many individuals on the autism spectrum. As a result, adjusting to changes can be difficult and can cause people to feel out of control of their environment.
Changes in relation to daylight saving time can be very difficult for children especially. Younger children are still developing routine sleep patterns and habits. Children with autism may need days, weeks, or even months to adjust to a change in the time of day.
Typically, the biggest challenge for children is centered on how long it stays light after the time changes. For a child with autism, it can be very disorienting when it begins to stay lighter and the child doesn’t feel tired at the regular time.
Tips for Managing the Time Change:
Prepare for the time change by talking about it—what day it's going to happen on and what to expect. For example, explain that it will begin to get dark later (e.g., at dinnertime, while the child is watching cartoons, etc.).
Create a social story with which to walk your child through what to expect from the time change. Include references to daily places and specific objects in your child’s life.
A week before the actual time change, start shifting your child's bedtime. Ten- to fifteen-minute increments can be helpful, resulting in the full hour adjustment by the time the clocks change.
Studies have shown that exercise can aid the body in adjusting to a new schedule.
Keep your child busy so that she tires by bedtime.
Additional strategies for adjusting kids to daylight saving time are available here.