Helping Kids with Autism Deal With Transitions

September 17, 2014

For some children, transitioning between activities or to different places can pose some difficulty. Below are a few quick tips that may help smooth out transitions for your child.

  1. Give your child notice that the transition is about to occur.
    1. Providing a count down, such as “5 more minutes,” may help your child recognize that the activity is about to come to an end. Although your child may not understand the concept of time, providing this verbal warning allows the child some time to wind down, as opposed to abruptly ending the activity.
  2. Provide a first-then statement to let your child know what will follow the current activity. You can also use first-then statements to indicate that something positive will follow if the child is being asked to participate in a non-preferred activity.
    1. Example: First math then TV. First-then statements may be provided verbally or visually.
      First-Then statement card
  3. Use a timer.
    1. Timers are great tools to set limits and help with transitions. Use timers to limit the amount of time your child engages in an activity (video games, TV), or to extend the amount of time your child engages in an activity (brushing teeth, sitting on the toilet).
    2. Refer back to the timer to indicate how much time is left, providing a verbal warning that a transition is about to occur.
    3. Remember to be consistent! When the timer goes off, you must transition to the next activity!

Reinforce Reinforce Reinforce!!!! When your child transitions without difficulty, provide lots of praise and attention!

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