Transition Strategies For Autistic Kids
1. Be Clear on How Long the Activity will Last. A transition always includes a starting and a finishing point. By clearly defining that ending point you are helping your child feel some control over their environment. A visual timer is an awesome tool to help your child see exactly when the activity will end. We love using the Time Tracker because it provides both visual and audio cues to alert to the time remaining.
However you do it, give the child a lot of warnings for how long there is left to participate in the activity.
2. Whats Coming Next? Visual Schedules are an awesome way to clearly communicate what is happening next. If your child can see what is coming up they can prepare instead of feeling like they are being abrubtly pulled from whatever they are engaged in. We absolutely love this free printable Daily Routine Picture Schedule from Kori at Home.
3. Consider Preferred Activities. When creating your childs schedule strongly consider the activities that your child loves and those activities they dont much care for.
4. Use First/Then Visual Supports. If your child is still struggling with transitions while using a structured routine and visual schedule, breaking their visuals further down into a FirstThen chart may prove to be beneficial for them. A First/Then Chart is a way of showing a child that they must complete the task at hand before moving on to their preferred activity. The one that we use in our home along with 70 PECS is available in our shop.
Review Past Visual Strategies
In addition to having a monthly calendar as an overview, it is a great time to use any visuals you have used with your child in the past and set up new daily schedules or visuals for upcoming holidays, as well as the school transition. This might be a simple list using words describing what the day holds, board maker pictures, clip art, photos, or other pictures. Choose a medium that your child understands.
Create a space with easy access where the routine for each day can be displayed. Write down or use the pictures to show what happens as part of the morning routine, as well as what will happen during the day and the evening. Some children need more detail, and some need less. Chat with your occupational therapist or speech pathologist for guidance, if needed.
Once you have this list or visual, your child can tick things off as they are completed, or he/she can pull off the visual marker and put it in a finished box.
Often, the end of the school year is extremely busy and some of our strategies, such as these visuals, may be forgotten or not used as extensively. Getting ready at the beginning of a school year and starting afresh is a great way to support your child for the new school year.
Consider Fatigue With Transition
Monitor your childs tiredness during the holidays and in the return to school. Many children become very tired during periods of transition, and may not sleep as well or for as long as usual because they are nervous and excited. An earlier bedtime might help if they are becoming overtired, or some deep touch pressure exercises, such as squishing them firmly with an exercise ball, or using massage to help them relax and get to sleep more easily.
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Preparing Autistic Children For Starting Secondary School
One of the key ways to prepare your child for starting secondary school is to go to orientation days and programs. You can also ask for extra orientation visits so your child can meet key staff personally and get familiar with different areas of the school.
If you can organise these extra visits, its good to visit several times over a longer period until your child feels ready to go regularly. It can help to mark the dates on a calendar, so you can show your child how many days until the next visit. You can count down the days with your child.
Other practical strategies that might help your child to prepare for secondary school include:
- one or more social stories about secondary school for example, you could write a social story about going to different classes or having different teachers
- a photo book of the new classrooms, library, canteen, school fences and gates, school signs and so on
- a map of the school with important areas highlighted for example, the classroom, quiet room, photography club room and so on.
How To Help Your Child With Autism Transition To Adulthood
What do you want to be when you grow up? This question is first posed to youngsters before they even reach first grade and continues in some form for years to come. Those words can make parents of children with autism cringe. We are not sure what lies ahead for our children in the years to come. In fact, we are often unsure of the status of next week. Our focus is simply to get through the day. But, too often, thoughts of the future wake us up in the middle of the night.;
Action can be an antidote to worry. As the moms of two adults with autism, we suggest two avenues of action to help alleviate concerns: focusing on transition-readiness skills now, regardless of the age of your child, and advocating for systems that better meet the needs of individuals on the spectrum.
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Getting Used To Being Back At School All Day
A big part of the transition back to in-person school is getting back into the routine of being out of the home most of the day, Engstrom explained. For some kids, its a really big deal to be away from their family, as they have gotten used to being around them all the time. I have patients for whom this will be the first time being away from their parents for more than an hour or two since the start of the pandemic. This separation from family or caregivers can cause a lot of anxiety.
How to help: When possible, its great to walk the campus before the school year begins, to help your child get reacquainted with the grounds or to learn about a new campus, if theyre starting middle school or high school, Engstrom said. But I also have a lot of success using maps. Ive done google map tours with patients telling them, Heres your school, heres the cafeteria, heres the parking lot, and so forth. This kind of preparation and practice can help.
Use Visuals And Social Stories
A choice board is an excellent example of a visual. Many children with autism need visual reminders, prompts, and social stories throughout the day to stay on task and be successful. Using a variety of visuals in the form of pictures, flip charts, posters, and cards help support students needs. They are used to prepare students for transitions, to help make choices, to give them answer options to questions, etc.;
Social stories, in particular, are used to prepare children with autism for upcoming events or for transitions. Some stories are only simple sentences while others incorporate many visuals for non-readers. An example of a situation in which a student might need a social story is if little Johnny often has problem behaviors right before it is time to get on the school bus at the end of the day. His teacher creates a social story with visuals to read with him once he cleans his area up for the day and is waiting for his bus to be called. It consists of four simple sentences and describes why it is important for Johnny to get on the bus and the steps he must take to make it there. Johnny and his teacher will continue to read his social story each day, then periodically after once problem behaviors have ceased.;
There are so many pre-made social stories online for all sorts of situations and the site Your Therapy Source guides individuals through making their own from scratch.;
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Elements Of Visual Schedules
The consistent use of visual schedules with individuals with ASD can assist in successful transitions. Visual schedules can allow individuals to view an upcoming activity, have a better understanding of the sequence of activities that will occur, and increase overall predictability. A number of studies have indicated that visual schedules used in classrooms and home settings can assist in decreasing transition time and challenging behaviors during transitions, as well as increase student independence during transitions .
Be Consistent Each Day
Consistency is key! Children with autism thrive on steady patterns and a reliable schedule. Changing up their routines throughout the day, from day to day, is not advised. Giving a child with autism a visual schedule for their day and sticking to the plan can assist them in being more independent, in preparing for transitions and what is coming up next in their day, and helps lessen anxiety and worry. Children on the spectrum tend to prefer rules and routine over spontaneity and going with the flow. Teachers and parents of these children will learn quickly that being inconsistent is not what is best. Of course, things happen that are out of their control; in those instances, it is always good to know what the calming strategies are and also what Plan B is going to be.;
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Check On Your Childs Learning Accommodations
When speaking to your childs teacher and staff, make sure your childs agreed-upon accommodations are in place. More than likely, you have already signed an IEP or a 504 plan, but the beginning of the school year can be overwhelming for everyone, and sometimes things can slip through the cracks. Dont assume everything is understood and in placedouble-check. ;
Plan Personalise And Prepare
- Ensure that careers education and planning programmes form part of the young persons transition plan and appropriately reflect their individual requirements .
- Help them to choose goals that are realistic and achievable, but dont limit them.
- Support and encourage them to reach their full potential and work hard towards their goals.;
- Plan well in advance with the key people involved – the young person, their parents/carers,; SENCO, advocate , teachers and staff from the new setting, eg teacher, lecturer, support worker, employer.
- Use visual aids, eg videos and photographs of key people and buildings.
- Start travel training early. It may be a long and intense learning process, but one that can be very rewarding as you see autistic pupils become more independent.
- Be aware of the importance of;social skills;and social confidence.
- Organise familiarisation visits to the new college or;employer. These can be as staggered, eg trip to gate, trip to outside college and then a separate trip to inside.
- Have college staff visit your school to meet specific students.
- Organise peer support, eg a friendship group, buddy system if the young person is moving to the schools 6th form.
- Arrange visits from students/employees who are already at the future college or place of;employment.
- Advise that staff at the new education placement or employer have;understanding autism training.;
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Difficult Transitions For Children With Autism
We all process information differently, and this is part of what makes the world go round. If a child has autism spectrum disorder , they process information differently than children who are typically developing. For some children on the spectrum, this can mean challenges with difficult transitions from one activity to the next in their therapeutic preschool program, at home, or in the community. Some children with autism may exhibit problematic behaviors when asked to transition from one activity to the next . Why is this?
Children with autism often benefit from an environment with concrete routines that are highly predictable, leaving little room for any unknowns. When they are asked to transition to a new activity, this creates room for an unknown to appear. Many children on the spectrum also process sensory information than children who are typically developing. These kiddos may be hypersensitive to sensory information, such as light, sounds, textures, and more, making it difficult for children to move into a new activity or environment with new sensory input. While a child who is typically developing may not pick up on slight differences in lighting or textures, a child with sensory issues will be very sensitive to even the slightest changes. This does not mean that children with autism cannot learn ways to transition more effectively from one activity to the next!
Make Transitions Easier With Coping Tools
If your child has a particular toy, book, or fidget toy she likes to carry around with her, it may be one of the best transition strategies you can use! While we want our children to be able to participate in activities particularly those in a classroom setting without the aid of props, they can help make the transition from one activity to another much less traumatic. Consider offering the object a couple of minutes before a transition occurs and then gradually remove it as your child settles into the next activity. Having it within eye-shot during challenging activities may also be helpful.
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Mind Institute Experts Offer Advice To Help With The Change As Well As Whats Likely To Be Different In The Classroom This Year
Heading back to school after summer break can be tough for some students, but this year is unique. Because of the pandemic, distance learning and hybrid schedules have been the norm for over a year, and many kids havent spent a full, regular week at school since March of 2020.
UC Davis MIND Institute experts say theres likely to be a greater focus on mental health in schools this year.
For children with autism and other neurodevelopmental differences, transitions like this can be extra challenging. Routines are important for kids, and the long absence from the classroom, the mask-wearing and other changes mean they have to learn an entirely new school routine, said Patricia Schetter, a board-certified behavior analyst who coordinates the Autism Education Initiatives for the Center of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the UC Davis MIND Institute.
Transitions Can Be Traumatic
Sue;Larkey is a highly respected educator and workshop facilitator who inspires parents and educators to make a difference for children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder .
Her strategies and tips are invaluable for teachers, parents, carers and professionals and many can be adapted for any educational setting whether early childhood, primary, high school or college. Here she offers tips for easing the transition for students with ASD.
To know someone with autism is not to know autism
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Autism Transition Strategies: 5 Steps To Smoother Transitions
You might be wondering why children with autism have such a hard time transitioning from one activity to another. So Im here to tell you that we all have trouble with transitions. Ill be providing you with some autism transition strategies to help your child or clients with autism.
Ready to apply these autism transition strategies and help your child or client go through smoother transitions?
Each week I provide you with some of my ideas about turning autism around so if you havent subscribed to my YouTube channel, you can do that now and join the thousands who already have.
Ways To Encourage Smoother Transitions In Young Children With Autism
Have you experienced breakdowns in transitions with your child or student with autism?; Im sure you have wondered why this occurs so often and how you can help!; These 7 strategies can help make transitions smoother for your little ones with autism.;;
First things first.; As an educator or therapist, it is imperative to start by building a positive relationship with your student.; If you dont have a positive relationship, helping a child do hard things is going to be even more challenging.; Next up, what is a transition?; A transition can look like:; a child moving between activities, moving between different areas in the classroom, or between different areas in or out of the building.; Sometimes the breakdown in the transition occurs when it is a move from a highly motivating activity to a less preferred activity.; Sometimes the transition might break down when a child doesnt understand where they are going.; At home, transitions can include:; waking up in the morning, getting dressed, having to be done playing with certain toys, leaving the house to go to school, and getting ready for bed.
WHY ARE TRANSITIONS HARD FOR LITTLE ONES WITH AUTISM?
SUPPORTING TRANSITIONS IN CHILDREN WITH AUTISM
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Getting Started With Transitioning Out Of High School
Usually, between the ages of 14-16, parents of children with autism and special needs start planning for the end of high school. This is the age when it starts becoming a part of your childs IEP. Youll notice a shift toward setting goals and planning for what comes next. This obviously depends on your childs abilities, interests, and needs. It usually includes discussions about college, vocational training, independent living, employment and all of the factors each of these steps involve.
Special education often continues until 21 years of age and each state has its own requirements and plans for transitioning. Some states start the process even before age 14. Regardless of your state, all children with an IEP must have a transition plan in place by age 16. It is also required that your teen be included in all IEP meetings once discussions about their future begins. Autism Speaks has useful information by state on their Transition Tool Kit page.
Depending on your childs abilities, one of the most important things you can do is help your child is to start thinking about and identifying their goals and dreams. Speaking openly about their future and what they want will give you a place to start when considering options.