How to Make Transitions Easier
For many on the spectrum, transitioning between different activities is difficult. It can trigger different behaviors where they act out. When leaving a preferred activity to one they do not wish to do, these transitions can be especially challenging.
Here are several strategies you can implement to makes these transitions smoother:
Create a schedule to make the day manageable and predictable. Visual schedules tend to work best, whether they utilize pictures or words. Anxiety is sparked by uncertainty for many on the spectrum, so predictability and structure helps with transitions as they are now predictable. It is important for many children to know what is going to happen next. Another strategy is to have your child check off each activity so that can see what they have accomplished as well is what to come.
As a new activity begins, be sure to continue identifying what will follow. By always preparing the child for what is to come, the transitions become manageable. Their brains are aware and already processing what is going to occur once this particular activity is through.
Let the child know how long activities are going to last as well as how much longer they have until completion. Knowing this information is important for many on the spectrum. One option is to use a timer so the child is aware for themselves how much longer they have. You may even wish to place a visual reminder of the next activity by the timer.
Early warnings help the child ease into transitions. Be sure to let them know how much time remains as well as a reminder of what is coming up next.
Reinforce transitions by celebrating switching activities in some way that is fun to your child. This could range from a high five, to a sticker, or statement of praise.
These strategies can help you aid your child in transitions between activities. While they will take a great deal of energy for you to begin with, you should find that as you do them consistently they become natural and require little effort.