The Special Needs Connection: Scheduling & Cooperation, Pt. 2

Amy Stout describes the special needs connection that helped her prepare her daughter with autism for an x-ray of her abdomen: speaking her language.

Does this picture of guest blogger Amy Stout‘s daughter Kylie kissing her Prince Charming (aka Daddy) make you smile? Then be prepared to keep smiling for the duration of the second post in her series about preparing kids with special needs for out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. (Click here to read Part 1.) Today, Amy talks about the benefits of of making a special needs connection by speaking a child’s language.

The Special Needs Connection Between Scheduling and Cooperation, Part 2

The Benefits of the Special Needs Connection

There are multiple benefits for using a list/schedule with numbers/counting:

  1. Your child’s expectations are set in advance. They know exactly what is going to happen and their anxiety is lessened because the element of surprise is now neutralized.
  2. They know that the task at hand has a beginning and an ending. They know there will be a firm stopping point and they know WHEN that will occur.
  3. Having a numbered list/schedule helps them to know in what order the steps are to be completed. They don’t have to worry about “What’s next?”
  4. The concern/anxiety of the unknown is greatly eliminated or lessened.
  5. They know in advance what is required of them and have an opportunity to ask questions or to prepare mentally for what is coming.


Additional Advice about the Special Needs Connection

When your children protest (and they WILL at times), be sure to discipline appropriately. Do NOT discipline your children for communicating with you – even if they are screaming a NO! Instead, address the attitude, tone, and level of politeness that frames the communication as the examples below demonstrate.

  • When your child screams “No!!” calmly say to your child, “Thank you for telling me. I can tell that you don’t want to do what mommy asks.”
  • You have just created a safe place/platform in which to communicate with your child. You have also effectively modeled the tone of voice and calm demeanor of how conversation should be handled. This doesn’t mean that your child will get out of following your directions, but it allows him/her to know that you are listening and hearing their voice. Your child will feel validated and oftentimes is willing to tone things down and proceed with constructive dialogue verbally, through pictures, signing or whatever form your communication might be.
  • Express to your child the message, “We need to be kind to each other and talk nicely. It’s okay that you don’t like what I asked, but you need to tell me with kind words in a quiet/calm voice.” As a parent, you can say it in many words or consolidate it to just a few. You will know what your child’s specific needs are, but usually, in these cases, less is more. You want your child to know that they can say/communicate anything to you – nothing is off limits, BUT that they need to do so in a respectful and appropriate way.


The point of going through these added steps is to help your child to explore and discover what they are feeling and mold him/her into an adult who can communicate effectively and appropriately. It does take a little extra time, but it will pay off with closeness and cooperation in the end.

Part One

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7 Responses to “The Special Needs Connection: Scheduling & Cooperation, Pt. 2”

  1. Thanks for this great advice regarding all kids. Especially those who are frequent hospital visitors. Bless you.

  2. Jolene says:

    I agree completely, Synthiea. How I wish Amy had been around when our boy was little!


  3. Rachel says:

    I love reading Amy’s posts!=) Her advice is so great and practical. This post is very applicable to some things we are currently facing with our daughter, so thank you for sharing.

  4. Jolene says:


    I love Amy’s posts, too. I wish the two of you could meet. You would really enjoy one another in person, too.


  5. Nancy says:

    I have finally broken down, listened to the Holy Spirit, and bought a scheduling program. I am now eagerly awaiting it. I never thought about how it could help with my child’s daily anxiety. More incentive to use it!

  6. Amy Stout says:

    Thanks, everyone, for your encouragement.

    Nancy, I hope things go well with using a schedule. I am interested to know what comes in “the program”. We haven’t gone that formal/official. We usually use paper or a dry erase board. My daughter loves to erase each numbered line item as it is completed… one more step to “all done”! =0)

    My daughter has anxiety issues and is on medication for it, but we have seen major improvement with using a schedule. She doesn’t enjoy surprises and often asks us “What’s next?” The schedule is a comfort item for her.

    Great big hugs to all of you!! I love hearing from you and sharing life with you!

  7. Nancy says:

    Amy, check out
    It is intended for home school families, but it may be adaptable. I’ll try to come back and let you know how it goes. We moved to a daily schedule a year ago. For example, Wednesday is always laundry day and Thursday is always shopping day. We have stuck to it and has helped a lot with getting things done or picking back up when life is crazy.

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