Many children struggle with transitions and for those with ASD, transitions are even more of a challenge. Information processing delays, executive functioning challenges or hey just really liking the current activity, can lead to a meltdown when change needs to happen.
Here are 5 ways to help children with transitions to avoid meltdowns!
How To Make Transitions Smoother
Keeping the same routine whenever possible!
When a child can predict or knows what is coming next, they feel more comfortable in control. Use a visual schedule for those that may need a picture, use a written schedule for those that have a higher reading ability.
Always give a warning when an activity will be changing!
This can be a simple touch on the arm or shoulder, the use of a visual countdown timer or even a song or clapping game. To help this be successful to ensure that you have your child’s attention. If they are deeply involved in the activity, don’t assume that they have heard the cues.
When a routine will be changing let your child know!
Always talk about the change in routine and why it’s happening. Let your child know what to expect. If you’ve written a social story about a previous routine change, use it again. Keep track of successful routine changes – I like to take a photo and caption it – “You Did It!”
Review the success and point out that it worked last time, it can again!
Use a family calendar!
Use a calendar to mark down all of the activities that each person in the family will be doing in the month. When something changes – verbally and visually make a note of it. “Piano lesson was cancelled because the teacher got sick”
Discuss why and provide positive responses to questions!
Keep Your child’s interests in mind- Transitioning from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity is tough. Whenever possible, try to schedule activities with the least preferred one first and then transition to the more preferred
A “First” – “Then” visual often helps with this.
Transitions are a fact of life – they happen!! Developing strategies to help your child cope with transitions will make life a little smoother and help them develop the sense that “Change Happens!”