This is an important area of focus even though the activities themselves will likely be planned by other people. The key to accomplishing this area of focus is to find out as much as you can about family routines and expectations. Whether the individual lives with their family or elsewhere, there are existing patterns of family interactions. It is important to make maintaining those routines a priority. Routine is important to everyone, but even more important to individuals with autism spectrum disorders. There was a time when people believed that relationships were not important to individuals with autism due to their struggle to interact with others, but we know that is incorrect. Close relationships, like family are even more important for at-risk individuals and no disability changes the need humans feel for close ties to others. If the family routine includes dad and the individual going to breakfast on Sat. morning so mom can sleep in or Friday movie night, this needs to be noted and maintained. It is still important even if the interaction does not occur at regular intervals. Perhaps the individual always watches certain sports with family members or attends a fair or festival with family. For balanced living, it is important to maintain positive family relationships. When the individual is ready to move out of the family home, these “traditions” can be maintained offering a set time that the individual will be with family members either at their new home or the family home.
If the family practices a religion, religious services often offer an activity that the family does together. Growing up going to religious services with family members is an important routine to carry into adulthood. It is not important what religion is practiced or when the service occurs. Rather it is important that the relationship with the religion and family members is maintained. Spiritual connection with a higher power can take many forms and if the individual chooses to change religions or discontinue practicing religion, this should be respected and other activities such as family dinner or set visitation times should be arranged. It is important to understand that while life brings many changes, close relationships, like those with family, stay - in one form or another.