For most neurotypical people (i.e., those who do not have autism), every little unexpected change in a day is something to which they adapt quickly. However, to people, particularly kids, on the autism spectrum, these tiny changes are automatically magnified. They are much larger and more disconcerting to people on the spectrum who need that sense of predictability in their days in order to feel comfortable and safe. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with autism, you will no doubt encounter a lot of meltdown situations until you are able to recognize the smallest changes impacting your child, how it is disrupting to them, and how to help them cope.
Something as seemingly insignificant to you as eating breakfast with a spoon rather than a fork is a big change to your child. Having to wait in traffic for more than the usual amount of time is a big change. Being late to preschool, daycare, or school is a big change. Having to go to the doctor's or dentist's in the middle of a school day is bordering on catastrophic. What is more, if there is a series of tiny changes in the course of a day, these add up and increase the anxiety levels of a child on the spectrum. You will experience their meltdowns more frequently and earlier in the day when so many little things have been altered. Because they do not seem like much to you, you have to train yourself to spot these differences, no matter how small, and prevent the differences or changes from occurring.
Managing Disruptive Change
To a child on the spectrum, he/she feels reassurance that all is right with his/her world when things go exactly as they expect. Routine is HUGE. It is why your child eats the exact same thing for breakfast every morning, in the exact same bowl or on the exact same plate with the exact same silverware. This is just one example of one small part of your child's day that has to be precise, or your child begins to feel the creep of panic within. When there is a major change to your child's day, like an appointment at a time when he/she is normally at school or daycare, you have to do all you can to prepare them for it and help normalize the situation by changing the expectation.
Helping Your Child with Autism Cope
Over time, you can slowly change routine patterns of behavior to help your child adapt. This requires very minute changes that turn into routines, and then changing each routing again until your child is no longer bothered by it. It will not happen in a week. It may not even happen in a month with a single change, but if you are consistent about it, it will happen. He/she will learn to cope with changes.
For more information, you will want to contact a company like Managing Disruptive Change.