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8 Tips for a Stress-Free Autism Morning Routine

April 19, 2024

The lazy summer mornings are a distant memory as kids return to school for another year.

As our little ones return to a stable routine, many moms are overwhelmed at the mere thought of the morning alarm clock. Could it simply be the autism morning routine stress? 

As a fellow autism mom, I understand firsthand how challenging it can be to get our future Einsteins out of their scratchers, washed, dressed, fed, and on the school bus on time every morning.

I finally cracked the secret of how to deal with morning routine stress, and I’m excited to share my tips with you.

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1. Be mindful of the time

Set your alarm a bit earlier to allow for a relaxed morning routine. Give yourself a chance to enjoy a peaceful cup of coffee, take a refreshing shower, and get dressed calmly before attending to your child’s needs.

This extra time can help reduce stress and create a smoother start to the day for both you and your child, setting a positive tone for the rest of the day.

2. Let your child be in charge of waking up

Encourage your child to take ownership of their morning routine by giving them their own alarm clock placed by their bedside. Establish clear guidelines about the snooze button, allowing only one press for a brief ten-minute delay.

This empowers your child to manage their wake-up time independently, fostering a sense of responsibility and accountability.

3. Allow your child to relax in the bathtub

Parents can help their kids unwind and prepare for the day by encouraging them to take a calming bath. You try adding scented products if they enjoy them.

Creating a soothing atmosphere with fake battery-operated candles can enhance relaxation and safety in the bathroom. Playing music your child enjoys or finds comforting can further contribute to a soothing bath time, setting a positive tone for the day ahead.

4. Make bathtime fun

Parents, if your child finds unconventional places like the bathtub appealing for breakfast, why not embrace it? My daughter absolutely loves this!

Choose something simple and enjoyable for them to eat, like a banana or a grilled cheese sandwich, along with a drink. This not only saves time but also adds an element of fun to their morning routine, making breakfast a more enjoyable experience for your child.

Siblings having fun during bath time

5. Limit the things they have to do

For parents with older children who can bathe independently, consider making their bed while they’re in the bath. This simple step can contribute to a more organized environment, making it easier for your child to start their day smoothly.

Take a moment to tidy up the room by picking up pajamas and books from the floor, straightening things out, and preparing your child’s clothes and other essentials.

By minimizing the need for your child to make decisions in the morning, such as choosing clothes, you can help reduce stress and streamline their morning routine, especially when their brain hasn’t fully woken up yet.

6. Be mindful of your attitude and mood

We all know our super kids are little sponges. They are sensitive to our moods, so if we are stressed, so are they. If we are positive, so are they. It all starts with you.

Check your attitude. Be happy and upbeat with your child. Make jokes. Remind them of something to look forward to that day, such as, “Friday is soccer day at school!

Don’t simply tell your child about the things they should do. Try asking them to do it instead. This will minimize the pressure, creating a positive association with your morning routine.

7. Have something your child can focus on while waiting

For parents dealing with morning downtime while their child waits for siblings to get ready or for the school bus, providing a quiet activity can help keep them engaged. Consider offering a book or an iPad for your child to focus on while they wait.

Give your child the responsibility to ensure they are ready for the bus on time. Position them by the window with the curtains open so they can wait while enjoying their chosen activity.

This approach fosters independence and helps maintain a sense of structure during the morning routine.

8. End your morning routine on a positive note

Don’t overlook the importance of sending your child off with a positive note before they head out for the day.

Whether it’s a simple “I love you,” an encouraging “Have an awesome day,” or expressing excitement about hearing about their activities later, these affirmations can uplift their spirits and set a cheerful tone for their day ahead.

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After a successful autism morning routine

Take a deep breath and exhale loudly as you close the door behind your little darlings, acknowledging the effort you’re putting in as a parent. With them off to start their day, it’s your turn to focus on getting yourself ready and out the door for work. Remember, you’ve got this!

This article was featured in Issue 104 –Transition Strategies For Kids With Autism


Q: What’s the connection between routine and autism?

A: Autism is often characterized by a preference for routine and predictability, as individuals on the spectrum may find comfort and security in familiar schedules and activities. Establishing and maintaining routines can help provide structure and stability for people with autism, contributing to their overall well-being and sense of security.

Q: What is an example of a daily schedule for autism?

A: A daily schedule for autism might include structured activities like morning routines, therapy sessions, educational programs, leisure activities, and consistent meal and sleep times. It’s designed to provide predictability and routine, which can help individuals with autism navigate their day more comfortably.

Q: Do autistic kids have a hard time waking up?

A: Autistic kids may struggle with waking up due to sensory sensitivities or difficulties with sleep patterns. Establishing a consistent morning routine and providing sensory-friendly wake-up strategies can help ease this transition.

Q: How do you help children with an autism morning routine?

A: To assist children with autism in their morning routine, ensure to allocate plenty of time for both you and your child. Encourage a positive start to the day by sending them off with affirmations and support before focusing on your own tasks.


McAuliffe, T., Thomas, Y., Vaz, S., Falkmer, T. and Cordier, R. (2019), The experiences of mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder: Managing family routines and mothers’ health and wellbeing. Aust Occup Ther J, 66: 68-76. https://doi.org/10.1111/1440-1630.12524 

Schaaf, R. C., Toth-Cohen, S., Johnson, S. L., Outten, G., & Benevides, T. W. (2011). The everyday routines of families of children with autism: Examining the impact of sensory processing difficulties on the family. Autism, 15(3), 373-389. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361310386505 

Rodger S, Umaibalan V. The Routines and Rituals of Families of Typically Developing Children Compared with Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder: An Exploratory Study. British Journal of Occupational Therapy. 2011;74(1):20-26. doi:10.4276/030802211X12947686093567 

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