When My daughter, Bethany, an autistic brain tumor survivor, was little she found it extremely difficult to wait for just about anything!
In fact, waiting often threw her into major meltdown mode!
Since there are many situations in life where we must wait, It was very important to me to help her learn to wait better, so I came up with a few strategies that helped avoid Bethany’s waiting meltdowns!
Now I won’t lie and tell you that the following strategies and products completely eliminated all of Bethany’s waiting issues, but I will say that they have made waiting easier and more enjoyable for Bethany.
1) Make a schedule of events: I prepare Bethany in advance when she will need to wait- such as while waiting her turn to see the doctor, while standing in line to see a movie, or while checking out at the store. She understands situations best when shown photos of what will be expected of her, so I try to use actual photos of her doing the activity then create a detailed schedule of events. I use Google images if I don’t have any pictures of her actually doing the activity herself.
For example: I have a “going to the doctor” schedule which has pictures of her sitting in the waiting room, sitting on the examining table with her doctor, and a picture of what ever activities we’ll be doing after the doctor visit so she knows she’ll also get to do something fun when the hard part is over.
2) Put together a “waiting kit” that is only used while waiting. This could be a special little back pack, a little container, or even a Ziploc baggie filled with little dollar store toys, fidgets, books a juice box, snacks, or whatever else you think will hold your child’s interest for a while.
3) Bring a tablet or iPad along. A word of caution about this suggestion, though: Using an iPad during waiting periods can be hazardous if your child must finish what they start before moving on. At one point, Bethany had created such a lengthy routine of iPad games that she her OCD made her have finish before she could go when her name was called at the doctor’s office!
If you suspect that this might be a problem for you, it might be advantageous to practice interrupting your child during activities at home in a safe environment so that he or she can grow accustomed to being interrupted and learn how to deal with it. For example: Make a game out of interrupting your child during an activity with a favorite snack or promise of a game!
3) Explain ahead of time the rules: Again, I use pictures, but you do whatever is best for your child. You can have a conversation or write a list or social story explaining the rules and kind of behavior that will be expected of your child during the waiting period.
4) Bring along some music. Listening to music can be very helpful for lots of people to keep calm during waiting times. Having a device filled with lots of songs can be a very helpful tool to use while waiting, but don’t forget to bring the ear buds!!
5) Reinforce successful waiting. When the waiting has been successfully achieved always reinforce with high fives, words of praise and encouragement, and rewards for a job well done so that waiting begins to be associated with fun!
I hope these suggestions will make your next waiting time a happier one!