The routines and rituals of families of typically developing children compared with families of children with autism spectrum disorder: an exploratory study

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Purpose: The construction of routines and rituals plays a significant role in the organisation of daily activities and the health and wellbeing of families. Studies have revealed that the pervasive nature of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) influences the development of functional routines and meaningful rituals. However, there is limited information on the extent of this influence on families of children with autism compared with families with typically developing (TD) children.

Procedures: The mothers of children aged 2-6 years completed the Family Routines Inventory (FRI) and the Family Ritual Questionnaire (FRQ) to compare the role of routines and rituals in families with TD children (n = 10) and families of children with ASD (n = 12).

Findings: The findings revealed higher mean scores across all variables for the TD group compared with the ASD group, except for 'FRQ Planning'; however, the differences were not significant. The only significant difference between the groups was 'FRQ vacations' which revealed a higher score (t(20) = -2.30, p = 0.032) in the TD group, suggesting that families in the ASD group may organise and participate in fewer vacations.

Conclusion: When addressing the challenges faced by families of children with ASD, occupational therapists must consider the significant role of establishing functional family routines and rituals. These may provide structure and organisation and promote the health and wellbeing of families.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The British Journal of Occupational Therapy (BJOT) is the official journal of the College of Occupational Therapists. Its purpose is to publish articles relevant to theory, practice, research, education and management in occupational therapy internationally.

    BJOT publishes research articles, critical reviews, practice analyses, opinion pieces, editorials, letters to the editor, book reviews and an annual index. Please refer to the author's guide at

    Submissions can be made at

    The 2013 Impact Factor for The British Journal of Occupational Therapy is 0.897.

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